Creating A Mandala
Person Coloring a Mandala Artwork

Creating A Mandala

Mandala is a Sanskrit word meaning ‘whole world’, ‘sacred circle’ or ‘magic circle’. Mandala-making is used for insight, healing and self-expression. Making and filling-in a circular design with colors, images, shapes and symbols, reflects the wholeness of the person creating it and provides a pathway of connection with the intuitive and unconscious parts of ourselves where insight and deeper understanding reside. The practice of drawing a mandala does not require artistic skill or experience – only a desire to learn more about what is going on inside of us as we move forward through loss and grief.


  • White paper in the size of your choice (8 ½” x 11” multi-purpose paper can be used).
  • A paper plate; the plate will be used as a template for your mandala.
  • Your choice of crayons, pastels, color markers or color pencils.

The Steps for Making Your Mandala

Step 1: Lay out all of your coloring implements in front of you for easy access.

Step 2: Relax the body and mind. Take a moment to do this quick relaxation exercise:

Close your eyes. Breathe a bit slower and deeper than usual to comfort. Focus on taking air in through the nose and letting it out through the nose or mouth. Do this several times.

Now focus in on the feelings inside of your body. See if there are any areas of discomfort, tension or pain, as well as areas of lightness, comfort and ease. Do an inventory of your body. Start with your head and face. Move down to your neck and shoulders, then to your arms and hands. Check each area of tension. Then move down to your chest and abdomen, your back. Then your pelvic area and buttocks. Your thighs and knees, calves and feet.

Go back to any areas of tension. Continue to focus on each inhalation and  exhalation as your breath, allowing the tense areas of your body to relax, one by one. Each time you release your breath, release the tension right along with it. Name each area and as you release the tension from that area say to yourself: My (body part) is feeling very relaxed.

Now focus your attention inward. Notice any forms, colors and shapes dancing before your mind’s eye; using as little though as possible, select a color, form or feeling from your inner vision as a starting point for your mandala. If nothing appears to you, that is o.k.

Step 3: When you are ready, open your eyes and look at the colors before you. Guided by your inner vision or simply in response to the colors, choose a color to begin your mandala. You may feel as if the color has chosen you.

Step 4: Draw a circle using your plate as a template. Continuing to use as little thought as possible, begin to fill in your circle with color and form. It is usually easiest to begin either at the center of your mandala, working outward, or begin at the edges, working inward. If you feel moved to draw beyond the borders of your circle, feel free to do so.

A mandala usually takes 5 – 20 minutes to make. Create your mandala at the pace that feels right to you.

Steps for Interpreting Your Mandala

  1. Turn and look at your mandala from all angles – what feels like up - like the top? Put a T at the top.
  2. Sign and date your mandala anywhere on your paper. If you make more than one mandala in a day number each mandala in the order made.
  3. Name your mandala; try not to over-think the name - go with your first response.
  4. Ask yourself: How did I feel when making this mandala? How do I feel when looking at my completed mandala? What is my mandala trying to tell me that I need to know? How does the name of the mandala relate to the three questions and the answers to those questions?

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