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What Is Mandala Meditation?

By G. Wiesen
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Mandala meditation is a form of meditation in which a mandala is used either to facilitate visualization during the meditation or as a way to eliminate distractions. A mandala, Sanskrit for “circle,” is an image often associated with Hinduism and some forms of Buddhism, which at its most basic consists of a circle in which various designs representing the universe or other concepts are illustrated. More elaborate forms of mandalas can also be found that include stylized depictions of a structure around the circle, often with gates and a center meant to be symbolic sacred space. Mandala meditation uses these types of images to assist with the meditative process.

The most important part of mandala meditation is often the mandala a person uses. There are many different types and depictions of mandalas, and they have become increasingly famous due to the elaborate mandalas Tibetan Buddhists have made using colored sand. Many mandalas used in mandala meditation include a number of geometric shapes, such as squares and circles, in which various lines are created. The outer square of a mandala often has four gates, one on each side, around a number of lines that resemble the paths of a maze or labyrinth, in which a circle at the center represents a sacred space.

One fairly simple form of mandala meditation uses the mandala as a way to assist the meditative process by eliminating all other stimuli. Meditation can be difficult for some people since it requires the person meditating to clear his or her mind of conscious thoughts and ideas. This can be challenging, as many people can end up thinking about bills they need to pay, what happened at work that day, errands they need to run, or other practical matters. The use of mandala meditation can allow a person to look at a mandala and use it to push all other thoughts from his or her mind, allowing his or her eyes to move across the image and clear his or her mind.

More elaborate mandala meditation, derived from the Vajrayana or Tantric meditation of Tibetan Buddhists, uses the mandala as a visualization tool. During this type of meditation, the practitioner uses the elaborate shapes and forms of a mandala to create the image of the mandala as a real space in his or her mind. As the person meditates, he or she can navigate the gates and maze to reach the center, the space of peace in which he or she can come closer to the Buddha and his teachings. This type of mandala meditation can be difficult to master, as it requires focus and concentration, even while eliminating conscious thoughts from the mind.

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