I painted my world with joy. Everywhere I went became my heaven.
~ Quiet Lotus
Mandalas in Meditation
"Who looks upon a river in a meditative hour, and is not reminded of the flux of all things? Throw a stone into the stream, and the circles that propagate themselves are the beautiful type of all influence." — Ralph Waldo Emerson
From Sanskrit, meaning ‘circle’ and also 'completion' and 'totality', mandala is a term used to describe the geometric patterns of Hindu origin, also a part of other Dharmic religions including Jainism and Buddhism, drawn as symbols of the universe in the microcosm of the circle. The circle itself is an ancient symbol, with circular patterns having spiritual and contemplative significance in religions and cultures around the world throughout history.
Used in meditation, the circular geometry of a mandala provides a point of focus and a space for contemplation. Representing cycles and seasons, death and rebirth, breathing in and breathing out, its circle becomes a mirror both of our world within and the cosmos of which we are a drop.
A mandala can be used in meditation either by gazing at its design or colouring and drawing in the circle. As a point for the eyes and mind to settle, the centre of a mandala's flowering geometry offers a restful place to focus. Calming and meditative, the small hand movements of drawing and colouring become an act of mindfulness, a pathway into contemplation and meditation, the space to be present held by the circle of the mandala.
Mandala designs to print and colour - Click on a thumbnail to open a copy you can print or save to your mobile device to open and colour in a sketch or paint app.
If you have ever watched a child colouring, or maybe you have a memory of colouring from your own childhood, you may have an image of a small figure hunched over paper, pencil or crayon in hand, completely immersed in the process of colouring, fully present in the moment.
The small movements and gentle concentration of colouring that draw us into the present moment as children, have just the same calming effect when we are adults. Combined with the microcosm of the mandala, colouring can be a deeply peaceful meditation.
Tips for Colouring
Choose one of the mandalas designs above. Clicking on the thumbnail will open a printable image. Alternatively, you might want to save the image on your tablet and open it in a sketch or drawing app.
Set aside some time for the meditation and be comfortable in a quiet place where you won't be disturbed. If you have limited time for the meditation, set a timer so you won't have to keep an eye on the clock.
Choose a handful of colours that feel harmonious to you. If you are colouring the mandala using a sketch or drawing app on your tablet, create a palette in corner of the page, painting swatches of colours that feel harmonious together.
Begin in the centre of the mandala, working around the mandala as you work from the centre out to the edge.
As you colour, allow your attention to come to the pencil, or crayon, held between your fingers. Notice the small movements of your wrist moving your hand across the page, each tiny movement of the tip of the pencil as it colours the paper.
Be curious about the details of colouring, the little sensations and feelings in your hand as you colour, the quiet whisper of the pencil against paper, letting your interest engage your mind fully in the moment.
Colour slowly. Don't be concerned with colouring the whole mandala before the end of the meditation. Let each tiny movement of colouring be the meditation.
As you drift into a quiet space, into meditation, let yourself become absorbed in all the tiny details of your colouring as you follow each movement from beginning to end, following each stroke of the pencil as a journey with no destination to be arrived at, just noticing what is in the moment.