Applying the "Mandala Concept" to Your Life

By: Kelly Allen, RYT, UZIT

Earlier this year I attended a workshop with Therese Murphy.  So many takeaways from her teachings. One of my takeaways, or rather something I keep thinking about, was what I’ll call the “mandala concept”.

A mandala (emphasis on first syllable; Sanskrit मण्डल, maṇḍala) literally means “circle” in Sanskrit.  It is a complex abstract design that generally has one identifiable center point, from which emanates an array of symbols, shapes and forms.  Mandalas are also spiritual symbols in the Indian religions of Hinduism and Buddhism, representing the universe.

For the “mandala concept” think of your own universe, your own life and the center point.  Think of all of the ingredients in our lives (relationships, activities, dreams, etc.) as a mandala, as beautiful and intricate patterns that radiate out from the center.  Every time we add relationships or try new things our mandala grows.

Here’s an exercise to try.  List items you would include in your mandala.  Take your time with no attachment to the results.  Now if you were to draw your mandala what would that look like?  What do you see at the center of your mandala? Feel free to imagine a fluid impermanent “center” that can change and include more than one idea.  What would draw you to the center, to a point of balance?

As I contemplated this concept, I thought wouldn’t it benefit one to put something healthy at the center of the mandala, by healthy, I mean something that is fulfilling and lifts you up? Should the center bring one joy?  A beautiful sunset can bring one joy but what about when the colors fade? A delicious homemade chocolate chip cookie warm out of the oven brings a child joy, but six of them cause a bellyache. An amazing chip shot for birdie brings a golfer joy, but what happens when they double bogey the next hole?  So what could be more permanent? Is anything permanent?

I also thought about the fact that if something not healthy becomes the center of your mandala and your life experiences revolve around that, it may be time to reassess.  This may be true if that’s about over-consumption or abuse of anything I suppose. Now if you are sick or someone you love is sick, “health” takes on a new meaning. This may need to be a focus of your attention, part of your center.  But whether it’s ourselves or someone we love, self-care would be an important partner in that circle.

These are all things to think about as I work on my mandala and watch it grow and evolve.

What’s at the center of your mandala? ~Kelly