Coloring Mandalas As a Meditation Technique

What is a Mandala?

Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain

Although you may not have heard of the word mandala before, you already know what it is. Mandala means circle in Sanskrit.

Circles are a powerful symbol found in every culture. We see them in halos, prayer wheels, and other religious symbols, architecture, and nature. Mandalas are sacred circles that have been long been used to facilitate meditation in the Indian and Tibetan religions. People create and look at mandalas essentially to center the body and mind.

Mandalas are entering medicine as a healing tool. An increasing body of clinical trials suggests that meditation may boost the immune system, reduce stress, combat depression, reduce pain, lower blood pressure, and stimulate the release of melatonin, a hormone believed to slow cell aging and promote sleep.

Mandalas are not just something to look at or meditate on. There are now mandala coloring books. Coloring a mandala using pencil crayons, crayons, paint, or pastels combines the benefits of meditation and art therapy.

People who color mandalas often experience a deep sense of calm and well-being. It's a simple tool that doesn't require any expertise, but it can be remarkably soothing and nourishing. Mandalas not only focus your attention, but allow you to express your creative side, which many of us neglect in our daily lives.

They can be particularly useful for:

  • children - coloring mandalas can help children deal with emotions and cope with illness. Instead of verbalizing their feelings, many children express themselves through color and art. Psychologist Barbara Sourkes, Ph.D., has used mandalas with children at hospitals.
  • people who cancer or terminal illness - The University of California at Irvine Cancer Center and the University of Pennsylvania Cancer Center are just two cancer centers that have offered mandala workshops to cancer survivors.
  • people who are trying to quit smoking - for the same reason that many smokers take up knitting when they quit. Coloring mandalas keep your hands occupied and relieve stress. You can bring your mandala book with you so you can pick it up for several minutes at a time whenever you have the urge to smoke.

But they are not for everyone. Coloring mandalas involve repetitive movements and gripping, which can aggravate the pain rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis in the fingers. It can cause pain in people with carpal tunnel syndrome, tennis elbow (known medically as lateral epicondylitis), and other forms of repetitive strain injury.

What You Will Need to Color a Mandala

From Coloring Mandalas 2 by Susanne F. Fincher; 2004. Reprinted by arrangement with Shambhala Publications, Inc.,

How to Get Started

1. You will need crayons, pencil crayons, chalks, pastels, paint, or markers in a variety of colors.
2. Print the mandala.
3. Find a quiet and comfortable place.
4. Start coloring. Don't think about your choice of color too much and don't worry about matching colors. Let your instincts guide you. After you've begun with the first color, the rest will follow naturally. Susan says: "One color on the mandala invites another, like a guest who asks to bring his friend to your party."

You are now ready to try coloring more mandalas and even creating them yourself!

The printable mandala is from Coloring Mandalas 2 by Susanne F. Fincher; © 2004. Reprinted by arrangement with Shambhala Publications, Inc.,

Disclaimer: The information contained on this site is intended for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for advice, diagnosis or treatment by a licensed physician. It is not meant to cover all possible precautions, drug interactions, circumstances or adverse effects. You should seek prompt medical care for any health issues and consult your doctor before using alternative medicine or making a change to your regimen.