Written by Fernanda Barcelo, LPC-Intern
Mandalas are everywhere these days — you might have seen one in your local yoga studio, in an adult coloring book, or maybe even tattooed on a friend’s body. But what do these intricate & beautiful designs actually represent?
Buddhist monks take days, sometimes weeks, to create delicate and astonishingly detailed mandalas out of sand. Careful to not breathe too hard or cough, they arrange the colorful sand grain by grain into a vibrant masterpiece. But what they do next is the most important step: after they are done, they wipe all the sand away and dispose of it. All of the diligent work removed without a trace.
This meditative process is done to help the monks practice the tenant of non-attachment. In Buddhism, it is believed that attachment causes suffering, especially when we attach our happiness to goals, people, roles, success, or money. We believe we cannot be happy until we have certain things “in place.” But what happens when we get them? We feel great — until things change. Jobs are lost, relationships dissolve, and people we love pass on. If our happiness rests in things that are non-permanent, we will always be suffering from either wanting or loss.
The beauty of the mandala teaches us to appreciate the process of creation, to be present in the moment, and to appreciate the beauty of something while it is around. Most importantly, it teaches us that all beautiful things are finite, and the more we accept that life comes in waves of good, bad, beautiful, ugly, painful, and joyful, the more we can sail ahead in a peaceful way.
How can you bring the practice of the mandala creation (and its benefits) into your own life? Try creating your own mandala, or buying a coloring book with patterns for you to color in. You can also purchase a print or wall hanging and try meditating while focusing on the mandala, allowing your whole attention to be on the colors and design. If you have a Buddhist center in your town, try checking the calendar for events that may include sand mandala-making, so you can watch this intricate process in-person.
They say that without a viewer, the mandala cannot be created. Where there is no you, there is no mandala. This reminds us that we are at the center of our own universe, creating our own realities, and have the choice to steer ourselves towards happiness and acceptance. Let go of what no longer serves you, appreciate the beauty in front of, and know that everything will pass. Whether that is good or bad isn’t the point; it is just what is.
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Here you will find articles contributed by members of our team. We hope to provide helpful information here to inspire mindful living and general wellness. The information provided here is not a substitue for professional mental health advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you need to speak to a professional regarding your mental health, please make an appointment.