What is a mandala, what is it for and how to make a mandala

What is a mandala and origin

According to Wikipedia, the word Mandala comes from India. This term comes from Sanskrit, in Tibetan, and means « circle ». It is an organization of symbols which evolve around a central point and which represents a sacred space, a spiritual dimension, the relationship with infinity, the relationship with ourself, the self in the universe, an interpretation of the life cycle. The mandala can have different meanings depending on religious, political or spiritual practices. Having a great popularity in India, Tibet and even in Japan, this type of drawing was also carried out by the Mayans, the Aztecs, the Persians and Christianity.

What is the use of mandalas?

Nowadays, the mandala is used for several purposes, namely:

  • As an aid to meditation by contemplating the mandala
  • As a tool in art therapy by making mandalas or coloring mandalas. Coloring mandalas helps relaxation and stress reduction by applying colors to a mandala
  • For the pleasure of shapes and colors, for the relaxation of coloring
  • As a decorative element. Mandala patterns are found on many objects and these symbols have now become very popular. They are found on canvas, fabrics, clothes, greeting cards,, etc.

Composition of the mandala

A mandala is made up of geometric shapes, figurative or non-figurative drawings, pictograms, colors, symbols, significant or not. Usually the symbols repeat around the center point, resulting in a wheel whose sections can be the same or different. The mandala is also available in a multitude of variants and we will come back to the different possibilities later.

How to make a mandala

To make a mandala, it’s very simple. Follow the steps below or check out my video on Youtube.

The material required to make a mandala is as follows:

  • A compass or objects of round shape, having different dimensions to draw circles
  • A ruler
  • A protractor (optional)
  • A pencil and an eraser
  • Colored pencils, felt-tip pens, watercolor, etc.
  • Paper or medium of your choice

Steps to make a mandala

  1. With your pencil and round objects or with your compass
    • Make a first circle in the middle of small dimension
    • Make a second medium-sized circle
    • Make a third larger circle
    • Make the number of circles you want
  2. With the ruler, draw a vertical line and a horizontal line in the middle of the first circle to have 4 equal sections
  3. For more than 4 sections, with the protractor, put a point on the angles of 45 and 90 degrees, then draw the line with the ruler according to the angles, for a mandala divided into 8 evenly.
  4. Draw the desired shapes inside the first circle (see below for shape ideas)
  5. Draw the desired shapes outside the first circle and inside the second circle
  6. Draw the desired shapes outside the second circle and inside the third circle
  7. If desired, trace the outline of the shapes with a permanent black pen. Only do this if you are not using watercolor. This step can be done before applying the color or after.
  8. Remove all the pencil lines which are no longer necessary
  9. Color or paint each element of the mandala with the desired color
  10. You can trace the outline of the shapes with a permanent black pencil if you did not do so in step 7

And there you go!

Shape ideas for your mandala

Here are some ideas of shapes to use for your mandalas.

  • Geometric: Circle, triangle, square, rectangle, oval, rhombus, line etc.
  • Symbols: braces, heart, star, etc.
  • Look in the emojis to find many symbols to integrate into your mandalas.
  • Forms inspired by nature: petal, clover, moon, sun, cloud, tree, eye, fruit, vegetables, flowers, etc.
  • Forms inspired by architecture: window, door, house, building, etc.
  • Shapes inspired by everyday objects: cup, fork, spoon, light, candle, etc.
  • People or characters
  • Fauna (animals, insects, fish, etc.)
  • Abstract shapes
  • Words, letters
  • Etc.

Color ideas for your mandala

Here are ideas of colors or combinations to use for your mandalas.

  • black on a white background
  • white on a black background
  • single color on a white background
  • single color on a black background
  • multicolored on a white background
  • multicolored on a black background
  • and all its variants, on a colored background

Atmosphere for making mandalas

Since making mandalas is a pleasant activity, why not have a nice music playing at the same time? Listening to relaxing or energetic music can give your mandala great energy and vibration. For relaxing music suggestions, see my article: Top 10 relaxing music for work, study, no stress, focus, concentration.

A mandala is unique

Each handmade mandala is unique and no matter how many are existing on the planet, your mandala will be unique like you.

There are mandalas that are made with software like Illustrator. They have very clear shapes and the repetitions are certainly identical. I like the “clean” effect of these mandalas made with software but the fact remains that I prefer the handmade versions which are filled with humanity and small imperfections which make them unique and vibrant.

I hope you have fun making your own mandala!

Watch the full video to make your own Peace and Love mandala!

For printed mandalas and greeting cards with mandalas and meditation theme, visit my Etsy shop!

If you enjoyed this article, share it on your social media and feel free to leave me a comment below. I am looking forward to be reading your comments!

May your life be filled with colors, joy and loving kindness!


Chantal Rioux

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