Mandalas Yoga living

Types of mandalas and how to understand them

First of all, get to know the function of a Mandala

Although the methods and mediums used to create mandalas vary throughout cultures, the purpose is the same. A spiritual student creates a mandala as part of a lesson in learning to focus her or his attention to a single a task. This lesson prepares the student for meditation. Designing a mandala also allows the person making it to create what’s called a sacred space. This makes the mandala, whether temporary like the Tibetan sand one or a permanent mandala, a valuable tool for meditation practices.

Many Symbols for Many Reasons

The symbols used within the mandala design are believed to aid you in journeying to the deepest regions of your unconscious mind or higher self. Many people believe this inner world is where your spirit or soul resides. For some, the mandala becomes a doorway into the cosmic realm of spirit. If you meditate by using a mandala, you can unlock universal truths, which in turn give you a greater personal understanding of yourself and your role in life. You’ll become aware of how everything in life is connected and dependent upon each other.

Tibetan Mandalas

The Tibetans create mandalas from colored sand and use it, in part, to express how temporary life is. Once the mandala is completed, the creators sweep it away because the completion signifies the end of the lesson or purpose of the expression. They then deposit the sand into running water, such as a stream, creek or river. The water then carries the mandala’s blessings into the world.

Tibetan Mandala Designs

Tibetan mandalas typically consist of two basic shapes. The outer one is a circle while the inner one is a square. Often times, creators replace the square with a smaller circle to signify that the world in which we live is contained by a larger one.

If you choose to create this kind of mandala, then you’ll fill the inner circle with various Buddhist symbols and glyphs. Many times, people place deity images nside the inner circle to signify the various stages of self-realization and the discovery of universal truths.

Japanese Five Buddhas Mandala

You may choose to recreate the famous Japanese mandala, the Five Buddhas, for your project. The Five Buddhas represent Buddha’s five enlightenments or wisdoms.

  • Vairocana
  • Aksobhya
  • Ratnasambhava
  • Amitabha
  • Amoghasiddhi

Historical mandalas depict what’s known as the Five Wisdom Kings Mandala (Womb Realm)that’s often used with the Five Buddhas Mandala(Diamond Realm). This combination demonstrates how the Two Realms are connected.

Traditional Mandala Meanings and Designs

A mandala conveys a sense of how small you are in a much larger universe. Yet, it also reveals how significant you are, just as each grain of sand is needed to create the mandala. If creating a traditional mandala, you’ll want to fill your circles with traditional geometric shapes and patterns to symbolize the cosmos.

Other Mandala Designs

You can recreate many types of mandalas from almost every culture. You may want to use some traditional symbols in your mandala.


  • The bell represents the female half of the Tantric polarity. The empty bell shape becomes a font for wisdom.

Dharma Wheel

  • The Eightfold Path is symbolized by the eight wheel spokes. This path leads to perfection.


  • The hardest known mineral. The diamond’s properties of clarity and refracting light in shards of colors represent your mind’s ability to focus with this kind of clarity while being able to understand and reflect all things (colors) into the world.


  • The lotus symbolizes the great teacher that Buddha became. Like the lotus, your feet (roots) become firmly planted into the earth, yet your spirit (lotus blossom) stretches to the heavens for enlightenment (sunlight).


  • The male counterpart of Tantric polarity. This half symbolizes the ability to affect change through the wisdom gained by the bell.

Your Inner World: Create a Mandala

You can use a traditional mandala pattern to create your mandala or you can create a unique personal mandala.

Where to Start

The first thing to decide is which medium you wish to use in order to create your mandala. For your first mandala, you may choose a large piece of drawing paper and a pencil.

  • Draw a large circle on the paper.
  • Meditate on the circle until your mind is quiet and at peace.
  • You’ll soon begin drawing within the circle. Give over to your inner self and draw whatever and however it guides you, to create inside the circle.
  • Add color with pencils, paints or markers.
  • The most important part of this exercise is to abandon restrictions or preconceived ideas about what your mandala should look like. Your job is to allow yourself the freedom of inner expression.
  • Continue to draw until you feel your mandala is completed.

Examples of Individual Mandalas

Many people share mandalas created during meditations on various websites.Below are a few mandalas individuals created:

  • Mandala Gallery
  • Mandola Oasis

How to Use Your Mandala

There are many ways you can preserve your creation. You can frame it, laminate it or affix it to an object. You’ll want to use it as your focal point when meditating. This mandala is a representation of your inner world and will be an aid to help you delve deeper into that world.

Adding Feng Shui Elements

You may want to add the symbol of yin and yang in your mandala. You can add feng shui enhancers such as chimes, red knots or even coins when you create a mandala.

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