From a Sanskrit word meaning ’magic circle or disc’, a mandala is a circular visual representation that is used as a focus point for the practice of meditation. When creating a mandala, the artist attempts to coordinate their personal circle with the universal circle, reflecting how their life fits into the larger whole. Although the mandala form is often associated with Tibetan monk artists, who use them as an aid to meditation and visualization, and Navaho Indians, who create them out of multicolored sand as a formal geometrical expression of sacred vibrations, mandalas transcend culture and religion, time and place. When a person concentrates on a mandala they are attempting to approach a higher plane of consciousness and, according to Jung, they are the ultimate symbols for uniting our inner and outer selves, being an archetypal expression of the soul. Jung found that the integrative properties of the mandala possessed considerable benefits in psychotherapy; by drawing mandalas, patients could impose order upon their inner confusion.
A mandala is typically a circle enclosing a square with a symbol in the center representing the whole of life. In dreams, it can appear in many ways: as a square garden with a round pond, a square with a circle in the middle, a painting with a circle and so on. It can often appear in dreams without you realizing what it represents and it is only when drawn afterwards that it is recognized as a mandala. This suggests that it is a true expression of your individuality. It can also appear as an eightpointed star that represents both your aspirations and your burdens, and indicates what you have achieved with your life and what you have learned from your experience, both good and bad. The mandala may often appear in dreams when your waking life feels confusing or difficult; your dreaming mind conjures it as a symbol of the journey from chaos to order.