What Are Mandalas?

Mandalas, an ancient word for circle, represent wholeness and have been used for millennia in cultures worldwide as a tool for self-expression, spiritual transformation and personal growth.

Wanderlust Mandalas are digital images created with photos from my world travels. Each mandala represents the emotional and spiritual essence I experienced on my various trips and invite the viewer to have their own contemplative experience of my journeys.

As an artist, I’m always looking to grow and evolve. And as a photographer, I see life through the lens of a camera – always framing and capturing that moment. And even if it’s not through the lens of a camera, that’s how moments are captured in my mind. So rather than just showing these images and how I see them, I wanted to find a way for others to have their own contemplative journey of my experiences – and for them to walk away with a little piece of what I felt at that moment.

Over a period of time and experiments, I finally “stumbled” upon the idea of creating mandalas – an art form I was originally introduced to in Nepal. It only made sense that my first mandala would be from a place that made a tremendous impact on my life and has inspired me ever since.

Photos by Michaela Potter
Excerpt from The Mandala Project

Sand Mandalas: Different cultures, similar expression
Both Navajo Indians and Tibetan monks create sand mandalas to demonstrate the impermanence of life.

In ancient Tibet, as part of a spiritual practice, monks created intricate mandalas with colored sand made of crushed semiprecious stones. The tradition continues to this day as the monks travel to different cultures around the world to create sand mandalas and educate people about the culture of Tibet.

The creation of a sand mandala requires many hours and days to complete. Each mandala contains many symbols that must be perfectly reproduced each time the mandala is created. When finished, the monks gather in a colorful ceremony, chanting in deep tones as they sweep their mandala into a jar and empty it into a nearby body of water as a blessing. This action also symbolizes the cycle of life.

A world away, the American Navajo people also create impermanent sand paintings which are used in spiritual rituals – in much the same way as they are used by Tibetans. A Navajo sandpainting ritual may last from five to nine days and range in size from three to fifteen feet or more.