Have you ever wondered how to draw those beautiful circular patterns that’s in every bohemian apartment on Pinterest? Mandalas have grown in popularity in recent years; you may have seen mandala patterns on your favorite harem pants, bedspread, or phone case (hello, that’s me).
Mandalas have actually been around for thousands of years. The word “mandala” means “circle” in Sanskrit, but the mandala symbol represents the larger concept of unity and the universe. Mandalas have been used in Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, and Shintoism as symbols, to aid practitioners in ritual and meditation, and for creating sacred spaces.
Not only do mandalas look beautiful and carry a rich spiritual tradition, they are also incredibly relaxing to draw. There’s a reason Buddhist monks have used mandalas to aid in meditation for thousands of years: drawing a mandala requires certain sort of focus similar to that used in meditation. No less than the father of psychotherapy, Carl Jung, brought the mandala from Eastern faiths to Western psychology. He drew his own mandalas and also had his patients make them in order to identify and heal psychological imbalances. “In such cases it is easy to see how the severe pattern imposed by a circular image of this kind compensates the disorder of the psychic state– namely through the construction of a central point to which everything is related, or by a concentric arrangement of the disordered multiplicity and of contradictory and irreconcilable elements. This is evidently an attempt at self-healing on the part of Nature, which does not spring from conscious reflection but from an instinctive impulse,” Jung said.
After I discovered mandala drawing, I was so excited to add it to my self-care routine: it’s both relaxing and productive! Mandala drawing is also a simple way to begin drawing when you do not have much experience or have considered yourself “not artistic” for years (hello, that’s me—if you’re in the same boat I encourage you to let go of that belief!). Mandala drawing is accessible to “non-artists” for a variety of reasons—it’s simple to learn, any mistake you make is not really a mistake and can be incorporated into the larger visual, and you’re nearly always going to end up with something really cool-looking.
How to draw mandalas
Let’s get started, shall we? The simplest way to draw a mandala is to start by drawing a circle or dot. Then you’re going to choose patterns and draw them out in a circle until your mandala is large enough for your fancy. Feel free to be as creative as you’d like when picking the patterns: there are no wrong answers! Some go-tos of mine are triangles, circles, half circles, flower petals, and hearts. You could also try more detailed figurative or symbolic shapes that represent something important to you. You can change up patterns by making them as large or small as you’d like, filling them in, half filling them in, maybe even incorporating different colors, anything goes!
If you’re nervous about sticking to a circle format (some of my mandalas end up looking more like ovals than circles) then feel free to grab a bowl and outline a pencil circle for guidance. This is not necessary by any means but it is an option! Remember that the “goal” is not necessarily the end product but rather the process of creating the mandala.
What materials should you use? I find a pencil, pen, or marker to be the best materials. Buddhist monks have been known to make giant mandalas in the sand. I have not tried to use other art materials like paint for mandalas—if you try it, let us know below!
Happy mandala drawing, dumplings! Have you tried this art form? Let us know in the comments!
Also by Maille: GF Vegan Mixed Berry Crumble
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Photo: Maille O’Donnell