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American Studies
Meditation Mandala Poem


For this exercise you will need to draw a mandala. Mandala means "circle" in sanskrit and they are used in meditation. Mandalas are circular patterns that can be drawn, painted, constructed (using colored sand or cut from stone) or even danced. The abstract designs of a mandala are used in contemplation and are said to represent our unity with nature. I often find the mandalas I make interesting because the abstract designs are compelling and reveal things to me.

First: Make a mandala. Draw a medium sized circle on a piece of white paper by using a compass or tracing a bowl. Using crayons, colored pencils, ink, or pastels, begin to fill in the circle with designs. You can make it symmetrical (as they are drawn traditionally) or you can go completely abstract, which is what I like to do.

Once you have drawn your mandala (it should take you about 15 minutes), gaze at it. Start taking notes about your impressions. What shapes emerge? What emotional states are suggested? From your contemplation and notes, write a poem.

Here is an example. This mandala had a funny winged person in it--like an angel or a bat-girl. The colors were vivid and the contemplation of it suggested that it represented anxiety about love and intimacy. There was a character imbedded in the mandala that looked duck-like and there was a shrunken heart thing dangling. So this is the poem someone wrote:


Love is a purple angel

half mermaid s-shaped

with a strong hip

Arms say danger: caresses

Weakness on the back

of the beaked man-duck

Love has carved the background bare

The bat wing strut across the dome

Held backs of arm wings

Heart: very skinny


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