This is a step-by-step process to help you create your own personal mandala, which can lead to a more authentic and meaningful life.
Creating a personal mandala can be done alone or in a group; you will need some lined paper and a piece of blank paper, a round plate (for tracing), crayons or colored pencils—a radio or CD player is good if you want to have meditative music playing in the back ground.
Overall, the process will take approximately one hour, depending if you want to share your findings in a group. Wear some comfortable clothes, sit on the floor or at a table and let the process begin!
Ten Steps for Creating a Personal Mandala:
One: Stop. Take a few minutes to stop and relax before you begin the personal mandala exercise. Put on some soft meditative music and breathe deeply.
Two: Describe your perfect day: no limits, no responsibilities, just stream of consciousness of what your perfect day may look like. In a column, list as many things as you can as they jump into your head. No editing, no right or wrong answers—just thoughts that describe your perfect day.
Three: Underline all of the things that can be easily symbolized. For example: reading a book can be easily symbolized with a symbol of a book. Lying on the beach can be easily symbolized with sun or a beach towel or beach umbrella.
Four: Write a word that symbolizes the things you have underlined. Again, don’t think too much—if you can’t think of a word, perhaps a color will come to mind instead (ie: sun being yellow, beach being tan).
Five: Jot down the meaning of each symbol. For instance, a book might mean peace, solitude or rest to you. It doesn’t matter, everyone is different. Don’t think—just write the first meaning that pops into your head.
Six: Draw a circle with quadrants. Now, to draw your personal mandala circle, take a separate sheet of plain paper and trace a large circle on it. Divide the circle into quadrants.
Seven: Choose four symbols that resonate with you, wholeheartedly. Choose the ones that move your gut, that absolutely scream, yes!
Eight: Draw an image of the four symbols in the quadrants. Again, don’t take too much time on this. It doesn’t matter if anyone else understands your images—it’s only important that they resonate with you (ie: writing could be drawn as a pencil/pen, reading could be drawn as a book). After you have drawn your images, go back and write the meaning for each image somewhere within each quadrant.
Nine: Respond to your personal mandala. Take a minute or two and think about how you might incorporate this quadrant into your life.
None of this is literal, so if there isn’t a beach near you and it’s the dead of winter, you may want to focus on the symbol or meaning of the beach for you and figure out a way to get more solitude or rest throughout your day. This isn’t rocket-science—just a way for you to give yourself more of what you need, in order to feel more whole.
Ten: Jot down practical ways to bring each quadrant into your day. Ask yourself: how you might get more rest throughout your day? How might you get more solitude? What might this actually look like in your everyday life? When can you do it and how much time can you give it?
Eleven: Sharing is optional! When you’re done creating your personal mandala, turn to the person next to you and share your quadrants with him/her.
Don’t spend time analyzing, wondering or explaining what you have done. Again, it doesn’t have to make sense to anyone but you. Just share what feels comfortable to you. Maybe just focus on how you want to incorporate your quadrant into your life. The listener, just listens. Nod your head, smile, acknowledge your partner in ways that don’t require words. After approximately five minutes, switch roles.
When you are done sharing your personal mandala with others, make sure you display it somewhere where you can see it; good places include on your refrigerator or computer or anywhere where you will get a chance to absorb it on a daily basis.
Of course, your mandala will change as you change and your life changes. Feel free to augment it anyway you want or create a whole new personal mandala; it’s up to you and what works best for your current life and/or current situation!
Vera Snow finds the mystical in just about everything but is particularly mindful of it when it comes to pop-culture.
Editor: Bryonie Wise
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