how-to, mandalas, monthly mandala challenges

July Mandala Challenge – Pattern Play

Mandalas with all of their shapes and spaces lend themselves well for drawing repeating patterns. In this challenge, Kathryn Costa invites you to play with the design principle, repetition. Watch this quick video to see examples of how patterns can easily add detail and beauty to your mandalas.


How to Enter

  1. Draw a mandala.
    You may also use one of the many coloring pages found in the members library of the Sharing Circle. Be sure to select a mandala with lots of open spaces.
    Get your entry counted twice if you create a mandala from the Drawing I course.
  2. Fill the mandala with repeating patterns. Color is encouraged.
  3. Scan or photograph your art.
  4. Post your entry in the Sharing Circle. It’s a free membership website for mandala enthusiasts. Join Here.

    Deadline to enter is July 31, 2018.
    Winner will be announced August 8, 2018.

  5. No limit to the number of entries.See Contest Rules


One person will be randomly selected to win a copy of The Great Zentangle Book by Beate Winkler

Related Links

The Mandala Guidebook – Refer to chapter 4 for pattern ideas.

Mandala Drawing I – Learn how to draw the mandalas featured in this video. 10 video lessons under 10 minutes each. Perfect for those who are just beginning, experienced mandala makers looking for more mandala design options, and tangle enthusiasts in search of a drawing practice that compliments their love for pattern play.

Color I Course – If your color confidence is low, this color course gives you an introduction to creating color harmony. Includes product demos to learn how to use a variety of mediums popular among mandala enthusiasts.

The Zentangle® Method

My Favorite Supplies

Here is a short list of my favorite supplies and the one’s that I used to create the mandalas that you see in the video.

Note: These links will take you to Amazon where I’m an affiliate. I receive a small commission for each sale at no extra charge to you. Your purchases help support the work of this site and provides art supplies for demos and prizes.

Drawing Mandalas


Coloring Mandalas

Faber-Castell Pitt Pens – India Ink

TomBow – Water-based brush pens

Spectrum Noir – Alcohol markers

Micron Fineliners

Marvy LePen Fineliners

Uni-Ball Signo Gel Pen – My favorite white gel pen. The broad point works best.

Faber-Castell Polychromos Colored Pencils

Prismacolor Colored Pencils


Blending Stumps (aka Tortillons)


Mandala Meditation: Jupiter Yantra



Dr. Wayne Dyer was right. There is a power in our intentions.

For my yantra series, I decided to work next with the Jupiter Yantra. Sarah Tomlinson writes in her book, Coloring Yantras, “This yantra is associated with the planet Jupiter, which – as the largest planet in our solar system – imparts a sense of vastness and an openness to new possibilities. The name Jupiter in Sanskrit means “the one who removes the darkness and brings light.”

My intention in creating this yantra was to open up to new ways of expanding my business and using my skills and talents in service for the highest good of all. Even before I drew a single line, I found myself following a trail of thoughts that led to exciting new ideas.

Creating this yantra coincided with the full moon this week. I’ve been studying the astrological archetypes and following the lunar cycles. The full moon in Capricorn – ruled by the planet Saturn – is about making plans and being disciplined to see them through.

As I colored this yantra, I found myself writing down detailed lists to plan the next steps in my husband’s new venture as well as projects that I’m currently developing. In the spirit of Capricorn, the question is what do I need to do each day to see these ideas through?

I look at this predominantly yellow yantra and I’m reminded of the Manipura chakra. “I can,” a phrase associated with this chakra echoes in my head as I look at the yantra. I do believe that I can and I will.


Sitting on my work table is this beautiful shell. Its silver spiral reminds me of Stage Three Turning Towards the Journey in the Great Round Series. It’s the stage we experience when we are ready to start something new. That something new may be a project, career change, or even a move. It may be welcoming a new baby or grandchild, starting a new course of study, or picking up a new hobby. Here we can see the silver spiral in the shell as a path leading outward or inward depending on how you look at it. In my case as I’m looking to expand my business, it’s an outward journey.

I see another path in this photo in the trail of twinkle lights reflected in the glass in the framed yantra. In many ways, I feel as though I’m connecting many dots as I follow my curiosity about many subjects. Here the dotted path is illuminated and reassures me that I’m heading in the right direction.

Now it’s your turn.

Whether you draw this yantra or another mandala or even pull out a mandala from a coloring book, you can add light to any situation that you are encountering. It all comes down to your intention and being open to listening to the wisdom of your soul. Use golds, silver, yellows, and white to color the mandala of your choosing. Follow your thoughts as you color. You may want to have a notebook or piece of paper to record your experience.

Sharing Circle

Join me and other mandala enthusiasts in the Sharing Circle. It’s a free membership website for posting your mandala art and reflections. Each month I host a challenge that’s designed to inspire your creative practice.

Member Log-in

Join Today.

Related Links

Mandala Meditation: Ganesh Yantra

Coloring Yantras by Sarah Tomlinson

Power of Intention by Wayne Dyer

Great Round Course



how-to, mandalas

Learn How to Interpret Your Mandalas


Every time I sit before the circle, a new adventure awaits me.

I may start a mandala with a specific pattern or color palette in mind. Invariably as I’m drawing the mandala, a new idea pops into my head, “hmmm, what if I try this?” Then there are times when I goof in drawing a pattern. I roll with it and the design changes course.

I’ve been creating mandalas for over 18 years. You may be wondering, “Are you still getting joy from creating mandalas?

The short answer is yes.

The long answer lies in how each mandala that we create is a reflection of our Self. Within the patterns, colors and shapes that we use to create our mandalas, we can learn a lot about ourselves. The mandala is like a map of our unconscious, our internal landscape of thoughts, emotions, memories, and inner wisdom.

While I delight in learning new ways to construct and color mandalas (the art of mandala making), it’s the expressive and contemplative aspect of creating mandalas that I believe will hold my attention for a lifetime.


To illustrate how our mandalas can hold personal meaning for us, let’s compare these two mandalas. At first glance we can see some very big differences. The mandala on the left is very orderly with a symmetrical pattern. The colors are vibrant and strong. In contrast, the mandala on the right is organic, irregular, and has soft colors.

Each mandala was created in very different times in my life. The first mandala was created recently as part of a color study where the palette was inspired by a pot of beautiful spring flowers. The orderly pattern of the mandala reflects how I’m working on a project and towards a goal. The vibrant colors mirror my high energy and ability to focus.


This second mandala was created at a time in my life after a period of grieving. I hadn’t felt creative for ten months or more. My energy was low and I was considering quitting my blog and pulling the plug on social media. Buried deep within those feelings was a desire to rekindle my creativity.

When I created this mandala, it was the first mandala in several years and it was drawn spontaneously and intuitively. I started with the heart in the center using watercolor paints and a black felt tip pen. The drawing emerged with little thought or plan. In the process, I observed my thoughts and recorded my reflections in the area outside of the mandala.


After drawing this mandala, I spent some time looking at it and reflecting on what it meant to me. Here I saw my heart at the center, a place to focus on for guidance. The little dots around the heart look like seeds. I wrote, “Each circle around the heart is like a seed, each one holding potential projects, skills yet to learn, new experiences, new relationships.”

The many hearts feel like my support system of friends and family. The dashed lines in between the pink vertical lines create a basket like pattern and here I see how I was weaving my dreams. When I was drawing the semi-circle and the outer edge, I felt uncomfortable with how it was irregular and not a perfect circle. I wrote, “It reflects how I’m pushing the boundaries of where I’m at.”

Without any instruction, I was intuitively exploring the meaning of my mandalas.

One may look at this mandala and think it is awkward and even ugly. I look at this mandala and it reflects a turning point in my life where I began a new journey of listening to my heart and using mandalas as road maps for healing.

In the margins, I see where I wrote about my curiosity to learn more about the work of Carl Jung and the practice of creating mandalas for personal insight. Six months later, I took a deep dive into this study and opened up to a whole new practice of creating mandalas for self expression.


I discovered the work of Susanne Fincher and a fascinating framework called, “The Great Round” that explores twelve psychological stages that we all experience many times in our lives. I have worked through all of the stages six times, twice in my studies with Fincher and four times facilitating it for others. Each time, I uncover new things about myself.


Crazy Quilt Mandala

My latest “a-ha” came when I created this Crazy Quilt Mandala, a project from Susanne Fincher’s book, “The Mandala Workbook.”

This exercise is to explore Stage 11 called “Falling Apart” and reflects those times in our lives when changes have happened and we may feel disoriented and our familiar routines are disrupted or shattered. The change can be triggered by a natural disaster and we’ve lost our homes, an unexpected health diagnosis, promotion to a new position, or new ways of being that come with graduation, marriage, retirement, etc.

The first step in this exercise is to draw a circle and to randomly draw lines to break it up. I love to doodle, so I added additional patterns within each of the spaces. To color my mandala, I decided on a section that I would work on next and close my eyes and randomly select a colored marker. As you can imagine, I worked with colors and color combinations that I would never pick. This random approach is a good way of breaking patterns in how we work with color. While I found some of the results ugly, I made a couple of discoveries too.

The next step, is to cut out the mandala and then tear or cut it up into many random pieces. I was curious to see if there would be any sweet spots or interesting intersections of patterns and colors in the cut up pieces. Sure enough there was and they were highlighted when I completed the final step which was to arrange the pieces in a circular pattern on black paper. I was really surprised by how much I liked all of the colors set against black and in this new arrangement.


I had so much fun with this exercise that I pulled out some mandalas that I didn’t like and cut them up to create something new. The pieces almost look like stained glass set against the black paper. I loved how my opinions of the colors and patterns changed in each of these mandalas.

By arranging the pieces around a center point to create the suggestion of a circle, the results remind me of shattered glass. There is in each of these mandalas a feeling of movement.

This process of constructing something new after it has been destroyed illustrates how often we can’t welcome something new without something getting lost or changed along the way. In life, we may be changed by life circumstances and our lives may look completely different, but within us there are the memories. lessons learned, and perhaps new skills acquired. All is not lost.

Now for some who tried this exercise, they felt resistance in working with colors they did not like or felt uncomfortable with cutting up their mandala art.

The idea of not getting attached to the art and beauty that we create reminds me of the Tibetan Buddhist ritual of creating sand mandalas. Several monks will work painstakingly on constructing a beautiful mandala, one grain of sand at a time. At the end of the week, they ceremoniously sweep up the sand and release it in a nearby body of water. To see this process watch the video above.

Do you get attached to your mandala art? Sometimes I see students get attached to not only the beauty they create but more often they get attached to what they perceive as ugly art. They focus on perfection, creating perfectly straight or curved lines, at the expense of enjoying the process. It’s easy to get caught up in the striving and doing and lose sight of the joys of being in the moment.

I admit to feeing some resistance at the thought of working through a mandala lesson called, “Falling apart.” No one wants to feel like they don’t have control. What surprises me every time I show up for this lesson, is that I discover my child-like sense of play and curiosity in destructing the mandalas. There is a feeling of freedom and possibility. As I love piecing together puzzles, reconstructing the mandala felt much like a puzzle only better as I get to decide how the pieces go back into place.

My takeaway from Stage 11: Falling Apart, lies in these questions, “Can I bring curiosity and play into my life the next time I face uncertainty and when familiar routines are thrown off?” “Can I trust that not all is lost when things in my life radically change?”

GreatRound-2018-OverviewIf this sounds like a fascinating way to create mandalas, I invite you to join me for my next round of the Great Round. I’m really excited for it as I plan on taking the course as a participant (also while facilitating it). I now have the course lessons all dialed in after three years of study and work. I love how the video lessons for each stage turned out.

I’m eager to explore these stages in light of my big milestone, I’m turning 50 years old this summer. I’m curious to explore what needs my attention and to let go of any limiting beliefs that no longer serve me as I step into this next decade. Each time I go through the cycle, I see new things as I’m in a different place each time.

I’d love for you to join me and discover the adventures that the circle has to offer you.

Here are some details.

Great Round Online Course

Lessons run August 26, 2018 to December 9, 2018
Closing the Circle Celebration: January 2019 (date to be determined)

Instructor Led Course – Facilitated by Kathryn Costa.

15 Video Lessons – We cover 12 topics and there are over 100 mandala projects to choose from. Each lesson explores how colors, numbers, and symbols relate to the topics.

New for 2018! Twelve videos, one for each Stage plus supplemental videos on “How to Interpret Your Mandala” and “Introduction & Overview of the Great Round.” Each week a new lesson is released. Log in when it is convenient for you to watch the video lessons, download resources, and to post your mandala art.

100+ Mandala Projects – For each lesson there are several mandala projects for you to choose from to explore the topic. No art experience required.

4 Show &  Tell Webinars – We’ll meet live using Zoom to see and discuss the mandala art that you’ve created. This is a wonderful opportunity to connect with other mandala enthusiasts who share your curiosity for exploring the meaning of our mandalas. There is a lot of wisdom shared and everyone feels a sense of community by participating in these events. If you can’t attend live, a recording will be available.

Times will vary and will be scheduled based on the time zones of where participants live to reach as many people as possible. The webinar schedule will be determined after the first week of the course.


Handouts, References, Supplements – Beautifully designed helpful resources.

All this for only $75.


Not ready to buy but want to learn more? READ THIS.

mandalas, offerings

Mandala Meditation: Ganesh Yantra


“Where do you get all of your ideas?”

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard this question. I’ve been known to say, “Inspiration is everywhere.”

I think I’ll add to that statement, “Inspiration is everywhere. Look around you.” Thinking more about this, it’s more than looking around you. It’s about getting curious. It’s one thing to see something, it’s another to ask, “Why?” or “What if?”

I have a long list of topics that I’m currently exploring. I can never study just one thing. My mind loves devouring several topics at once and making connections between them.

One of my long time interests has been in exploring the meaning of our mandalas. The colors, shapes, symbols, and how they are arranged can tell us a lot about where we are in the moment. There are long standing traditions where mandalas are created with specific symbols and colors. One such tradition that I’ve been curious to learn more about is the Hindu yantras.

The earliest yantras date back 1,000 BCE in northern India. Throughout the ages, sacred teachings have been shared through mantras (sound vibrations) and yantras (visual representations).

The basic shape of a yantra is a circle with a ring of lotus petals. At the center, is a geometric pattern often with one or more triangles around a central dot. The entire shape is contained within a square with four “gates” in each of the cardinal directions. Color plays an important role in yantras as they bring energy, meaning, and intention to the design.

Yantras may be a part of a mandala where the yantra design is at the center and additional shapes, patterns, and colors are added as an expression of the artist’s exploration of the yantra’s energy and meaning.


To begin this new exploration, I thought it fitting to start with the Ganesh Yantra.


Lord Ganesha is commonly associated with the beginner of both inner and outer journeys and the remover of obstacles. It is also a good yantra as this is a foundational year for my career. There is a lot of uncertainty and my intention for creating this yantra is to bring clarity, confidence, guidance, and good fortune to my endeavors.


As I considered the shapes and colors for this yantra, I drew upon what I’ve learned from studying and teaching the Great Round and my knowledge of the chakras.

I thought of the root chakra and chose red for the square and “gates” for three reasons:

  1. The root chakra is about safety, security and having a solid foundation.
  2. Elephants are associated with the root chakra and Ganesh bears the head of an elephant.
  3. The sturdy square with the four gates is reflective of Stage 7 in the Great Round where we “stand four square in who we are.” Red is among the colors typically used in this stage.

Triangles indicate a direction and here the upward pointing triangle conveys moving forward.  We see upward facing triangles in Stage Four of the Great Round when we are about to start something new, a burst of creativity, or it can refer to our aspirations. It is the symbol for the element fire and is associated with masculine “doing” energy.

Within the triangle is the six-pointed star formed by two triangles, one pointing upward and the second one pointing downward. This perfectly balanced symbol brings together and harmonizes both the masculine and feminine qualities.

Blue is associated with emotions and I chose to color the inner symbols in blue to soothe and balance my mind and emotions, with what I’m thinking and feeling.

Green was chosen as it’s the color of the heart chakra. What better container for the mind and emotions than a circle of love?

Orange and red petals capture my creative spirit and passion which I know will help me and my projects to blossom.

Lastly, I added a gold dot in the center, referred to by Hindus as the bindu. The bindu provides a focal point for centering one’s attention during meditation.

After I decided on my color palette for this yantra, I allowed my mind to float as different thoughts about my hopes, aspirations, and dreams emerged while coloring in the shapes. At times my thoughts veered down memory lane and different work scenarios. As each color was applied, I felt my energy and excitement rise.


Meditating with this Yantra

I finished this yantra late in the evening. When done, I sat with it looking at all of the colors and memorizing each of the lines, shapes, and symbols. It wasn’t until the next morning during the liminal space between sleeping and waking that I intuited the meaning that this yantra had for me.

In my mind’s eye, I pictured the shapes and colors. I tuned in and felt my uncertainty and doubt around two recent projects. In both cases, I was doubting myself which is not a common feeling for me. Usually I’m decisive and when I take action, I accept that what is done is done. This time was different, perhaps because I’ve been feeling attached to the outcome.

Later in the morning, I spent time writing in my journal with periodic glances at the yantra. In a flash, I realized how much energy I was wasting by second guessing myself and listening to the opinions of others. When we put other peoples ideas, fears, and opinions before ours, we give our power away. Ah-ha! Now I see what is blocking me.

In my heart, I truly believe that the outcomes will be for the highest good for all. There is no need to worry. This is a time to relax in the uncertainty. As I easily and effortlessly released the worries, feelings of excitement filled my body, mind, and spirit. I can’t wait to see where my curiosity and creativity will take me next.


Traditional Colors for Ganesh Yantra

The next day I returned to the Ganesh Yantra and this time used the traditional colors. I added flowing lines within the green areas, my own artistic invention, to represent the flow inward that happens when obstacles are removed.


Version 3: Going with the Flow

Looking at my first two Ganesha Yantras, I decided to create a third one that is a fusion of some traditional colors with some colors and elements of my own choosing. I believe intention is the very most important ingredient in making powerful art. Before sitting down, I knew the palette and design for this yantra so I was able to fully let go into the process of creating it. Some of the lines are not precisely drawn, and I love it just as it is for it’s a reflection of my own perfectly imperfect container (aka body).

Thoughts drifted to the idea of flow, which coincidentally is my word-for-the-year. I thought about the importance of recognizing and releasing limiting beliefs and which ones that are blocking me. After I finished creating this yantra, I was moved to take an action step on an opportunity that I’m pursuing. I was impressed how the words for my letter flowed from my mind onto the computer screen.

This is the power of creating mandala art. We can relax and tap into our inner wise self, our inner Ganesha. The process of creating and coloring can be an opportunity for brainstorming, discerning, reflecting, and planning. It’s certainly so much more than making a pretty picture.


Are you curious to learn more about the meaning of your mandalas?

For the first time in three years, I’m offering my Great Round course in the fall. It starts on August 26, 2018. It’s a fascinating series that will give you insights about yourself and your life experiences. You’ll find the exploration both insightful and empowering.

Early Bird special, enroll before June 27th at get $20 off.

>>Get the details and sign up here.



5 Reasons to Start a Mandala Practice


Mandalas are everywhere. We see these circular designs with repeating patterns in coloring books, clothing, linens, and home decor. Mandala is a Sanskrit word that loosely translates as “circle” or “center.” While mandalas are rooted in Buddhist and Hindu traditions, humans have been fascinated by circular design motifs across all cultures and times. Celtic spirals, the Chinese yin/yang symbol, rose windows, and Navajo sand paintings are a few examples. In nature, we find mandala patterns in nautilus shells, pinecones, and the seed heads of sunflowers.

The practice of creating and coloring mandalas is more than making pretty pictures. Here are five reasons to start a mandala practice.

1. It relaxes the body and mind. A mandala practice can be as simple as coloring mandalas found in the many adult coloring books on the market today or downloaded for free from the web. When we unplug from our electronics in order to sit quietly and color, our bodies and minds relax. Focusing on filling the repeating shapes with color gives our minds a break from the worries of the day and the busyness in our schedules. As our minds relax, our bodies follow. For maximum benefit, turn off your phone and other devices, turn on some relaxing music, diffuse your favorite essential oils, and drink a warm beverage. Take it even further by practicing yoga, dancing, or soak in a warm bath before sitting down to color. The relaxation experienced from coloring mandalas eases stress and anxiety and helps you sleep.

2. It activates your creativity. Drawing your own mandala designs requires no artistic background. I tell my students, “If you can print your name and the alphabet, you can draw a mandala.” We use the same lines and shapes—vertical, horizontal, curved, diagonal—whether we draw the mandala freehand or within a grid. Within 15 minutes, I see students take flight in drawing their own mandala designs and discovering their creative abilities. Activating our creativity in this way helps us bring creativity to other areas of our lives.

3. It improves focus and enhances clarity. When you’re drawing a mandala, you can’t think about anything else. That clears the mind to be able to focus. After constructing the mandala, we shift gears to color it, and our attention may shift to our thoughts and feelings. We can quietly reflect on the day and use this time to brainstorm a solution to a problem, or consider possibilities for a decision that we need to make. One of my favorite practices is to focus on an intention, such as gratitude, while creating my mandala. I may even fill the shapes and spaces of my mandala with words and phrases to acknowledge what I appreciate in myself, others, and my life.

4. It centers and connects you. What’s the difference between coloring and drawing within a circle compared to other designs? The circle offers a safe container to focus one’s thoughts, feelings, and ideas—whether the mandala is in the traditional style, with the shapes radiating from the center, or a contemporary design that’s more freeform and abstract. As we draw a mandala and color it in, we see patterns emerge before us that may reflect the centeredness and connections found within ourselves, friends, family, colleagues, and communities, both local and global. These connections foster understanding and compassion toward ourselves and others.

5. It’s fun! Perhaps the number-one reason to start a mandala practice is the joy that comes from witnessing a work of art emerge from your own hands. A warning: Once you get started, you’ll find it hard to stop!

Originally written for

How to Get Your Mandala Practice Started

Read a Book: My book, “The Mandala Guidebook: How to Draw, Paint, and Color Expressive Mandala Art” is packed with beautiful illustrations and easy step-by-step instructions covering a wide range of styles, techniques, and mediums. Sample It! Download the first chapter.

Watch these Videos: I’ve taught thousands of people how to draw mandalas in my YouTube videos. Get your pen and paper ready and Tune In Here.

Take a Class: My book and YouTube videos are just the start. This 10-part series will guide you in creating mandalas quickly and successfully. Get the Deets & Sign Up!

Join a Mandala Community: The Sharing Circle is a private website for mandala enthusiasts. It’s the best place on the web to get encouragement, especially when you are just starting out! Join Here Did I mention it’s free?