What is a mandala?
The meaning of mandala comes from Sanskrit meaning “circle.” Even though it may be dominated by squares or triangles, a mandala has a concentric structure. Mandalas offer balancing visual elements, symbolizing unity and harmony. The meanings of individual mandalas is usually different and unique to each mandala. The goal of the mandala is to serve as a tool on our spiritual journey as it symbolizes cosmic and psychic order.
How do I use a mandala?
Along with the meaning of mandala, comes the use of it. There are many uses, the following paragraghs will outline the basic process.
The design of the mandala is to be visually appealing so as to absorb the mind in such a way that chattering thoughts cease, and a more philosophic or spiritual essence envelopes the observer which in turn leads to higher consciousness or awareness. In short, a mandala can be seen as a hypnotic, letting the creative hemisphere of our mind run a little more free while our analytical mind takes a little nap.
That said, we use the mandala as a form of meditation for the purpose of gaining knowledge, primarily the kind that resides within each of us.
Before meditating, we must first set an intention. Normally, we select a mandala that appeals to us. It is good to know what the meaning of mandala you’ve chosen - or set your own meanings/intention before focusing on it.
For example, focusing Native American labyrinth mandala, we know this meaning of mandala relates to beginnings, our enternal nature, and how this is relative to our life journey. So, before meditating on the mandala we set the intention to more clearly understand our life journey, or be shown guidance in a particular area we are having trouble on the path.
Once we have set our intention, we begin to focus on the mandala. Let your eyes take in the beauty of the designs, allowing your mind to wander as it will. If your mind begins to chatter (i.e., I should do laundry, have to get milk, need to finish that report for work), simply bring your attention back to the beauty of the mandala. Get inside the mandala, simply fall into it, swim in it, let it absorb all of your attention. As you fall into the mandala, you will begin to feel lighter, and intuitive thoughts may arise. Relax and float with the thoughts and feeling that come to you. If you begin to feel lost, uncomfortable or if you get the “chatter” again, simply focus your attention back on the mandala.
Each observer has different experiences. However, the overall consensus is that meditating with the mandala leaves the observer relaxed, and he/she comes away with a resolution or clarity concerning the intention that was set before the meditation.