“Mandalas symbolize the presence of the sacred in the realm of the mundane. Mathematicians tell us that the point at the centre of a circle is dimensionless. This ‘essence’ is contained within a limited space bounded by a circumference. Thus, by its very nature, the mandala is a symbol of the boundless and the eternal at the heart of circumscribed everyday reality.” – From the book
From the Pantheon in Rome to Chartres Cathedral in France, from the exquisite images painted by the 11th century Benedictine abbess Hildegard of Bingen to Hindu yantras, sacred circles appear in architecture, art, and even nature itself. Mandalas, a word derived from the Sanskrit word meaning “circle” or “sacred center”, are universal patterns that serve as symbols of wholeness, well being, time, community, nature, and the spiritual journey.
According to author Madonna Gauding, by contemplating the mandala, we discover the divinity at our own center. In her book World Mandalas: 100 New Designs for Colouring and Meditation, Gauding explains the role of mandalas in five traditions: Hindu, Buddhist, Christian, Celtic, and Native American. The first part of the book, illustrated with vibrant, full-color images, introduces readers to the various expressions of mandalas, including how they serve as powerful spiritual and psychological symbols. Gauding also describes the many meanings of color as viewed by Chinese medicine, traditional associations, and the Hindu chakra system.
Why color mandalas? Besides being an enjoyable pastime, the author expresses that coloring intricate designs demand mental focus akin to the concentration you can develop through meditation. This focus can allow unconscious thoughts and feelings to emerge, as well as flashes of inspiration and solutions to problems. The author provides ten ways to use coloring mandalas:
1. Relax and center for stress relief
2. Establish your true self
3. Feel integrated and whole
4. Face up to problems
5. Problem solve
6. Generate creativity
7. Learn from color choices
8. Share your best self
9. Find your spiritual path
10. Heal yourself
For example, if you feel overwhelmed by the many roles you play, you could color a mandala to feel integrated and whole. Gauding suggests choosing a mandala with a complex design, then write down a list of the many roles you play in life. Then list both positive and negative qualities associated with those roles. Begin coloring the mandala, using as many shades and techniques as you can. After completing the design, take a moment to reflect on these roles and qualities. Do you feel more accepting and loving of who you are?, she asks.
World Mandalas provides 100 blank mandalas from five spiritual traditions for coloring and meditation. They are large and easily reproducible using a scanner or photocopier. The mandalas are one-sided, so you don’t have to worry about color bleeding through if you use markers or paints. (Although I’d recommend putting paper between pages, just in case.) I have carpal tunnel syndrome in my writing hand, so coloring mandalas can be quite painful. However, I enjoyed coloring one of the Hindu mandalas with watercolor pencils, which depicted “the five ingredients for Tantric practices”. I found all of the mandalas to be quite beautiful; I could feel a sense of peace just looking at them in an uncolored state! I wish I didn’t have CTS so I could color mandalas as I used to; since I find the process very calming and centering. It is, indeed, akin to meditation. I own several mandala coloring books, and I believe World Mandalas by Madonna Gauding has the most contemplative, attractive mandalas of them all. Highly recommended!
Content copyright © by Janet Boyer. All rights reserved. This review was written by Janet Boyer. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission.