Mandala your way to Mindfulness

May 21, 2019
Closeup of woman's hand drawing mandala with a blue pencil on the wooden table


Today I’m so pleased to welcome Denyse Whelan as our guest poster for ZTT #18.  I’ve known Denyse (virtually) for many years now.  Denyse is an Aussie blogger and retired school Principal.  She has quite a few stories to share and if you don’t already know her, you can get to know her over at her blog (you’ll find the link in her bio at the end of this post).  Denyse is one of the most generous, kind and caring people you ever could hope to meet.  In the Aussie blogosphere she’s well-known and very well thought of, and deservedly so!  Today she’s sharing how the creation of Mandalas has helped her reach Mindfulness and Zen during times of stress and difficulty.  I hope you enjoy the read!

If you’re joining us for ZTT Link-Up #016, welcome and I look forward to reading your post!


A trio of Mandalas drawn by Denyse Whelan


In 2016 I began creating mandalas using my ‘old school’ compass, pencils and paper. It all came back to me learning about making a ‘flower inside a circle’ from Year 6 geometry. I bought a book. Then another. I was bitten by the mandala bug!

I have used creative activities as a means of relaxation, stimulation, mindfulness and more in my post-retirement years and it helps me greatly through times of stress and worry. I found continuing to design my mandalas in hospital after cancer surgery in 2017 gave my focus to the creation. It was very helpful. It still is. I often have a mandala started so when I need to ‘shut out’ what can be distracting or stressful, I sit at my desk and am immediately calmed by doing “just one thing”. I come away more zen-like and able to manage my emotions better.

Each time I create a mandala or I notice one in nature out in the world I stop and admire it. I am literally attracted to them and can ‘see a mandala’ where others may not. Flowers, shadows, furniture, outside on the pavement, succulents. Once you “know” about mandalas you too will notice them.

Floral Mandala

Floral Mandala

Mandalas seen in succulents

Succulent Mandalas

How does noticing a mandala help?

It focusses me on just one thing.

That moment.

That experience.

It is, for me, the ultimate in mindfulness.

It is, in the spirit of this guest post, putting me in a zen moment or more.

But What IS a Mandala?

A mandala is a spiritual and ritual symbol in Hinduism and Buddhism, representing the universe. The basic form of most mandalas is a square with four gates containing a circle with a centre point. Source: Wikipedia.

The word Mandala basically means circle and it represents a wholeness in a cosmic diagram that can remind individuals of their direct relation to infinity. Mandalas extend beyond their form and write into our minds and our bodies. These are symbols of great power and actually appeared to humans in almost every aspect of our life including the moon, the sun and the earth. These circles encompass not only physical forms but communities, family and friends.  Source:

The second (see ‘Resources’ at the end of this post) teaches much more about the spiritual connections to us via mandalas. This is for those who want to go further in learning about mandalas.

How I create a Mandala

I used this first book, as noted below, in my early learning stages. It was once I was established and more confident of my designs that I began to do more. In fact, I made over 200 in a year or so. Some are A3 size, now laminated, and are placemats or framed for viewing, and the smaller A4 ones, give others enjoyment as I display them on-line and give them away!

This link, takes you to my “how to make a mandala” post on my blog.

I hope if you do give making mandalas a go, you too find the joy and fun they can be. Remember, if you learned to do one of these in school, then you can do it again now!

Last year I did a free 4 week course at my local library on Mandalas and Mindfulness and each of the participants felt more relaxed and ‘in the moment’ as they created they told me.

Flower Mandala drawn by Denyse Whelan

One using the ‘flowers’ in the circle to start it.

Flower Mandala drawn by Denyse Whelan

A variation on the flowers in the circle.

An Aboriginal design Mandala drawn by Denyse Whelan

This one was Aboriginal in design.

Resources: both of mine were purchased from BookDepository (not sponsored)

  • The Mandala Guidebook. How To Draw, Paint and Colour Expressive Mandala Art. Kathryn Costa. North Light Books. 2016.
  • The Mandala Workbook. A Creative Guide for Self-Exploration, Balance and Well-Being. Susanne F. Fincher. Shambala Publications. 2010.



Photograph of Denyse Whelan


Denyse is a retired K-6 educator from Australia who is married and has two adult children and eight grandchildren. Denyse began blogging in 2010 as a means to greater connection socially after retirement. In 2015, moving away from the family and finalising her work as a part-time University tutor, Denyse found these transitions to a new life, a new place and a new lifestyle a challenge. Always looking to help herself, art pursuits are a balm for her. However, a major upset to the retired life was a cancer diagnosis in May 2017. A rare squamous cell carcinoma in her mouth meant major surgeries and re-constructions in the past 2 years. Denyse loves the social aspects of blogging and is always keen to support others. She has a Monday link up on her blog called Life This Week. Optional prompts are provided but come on in, old posts or new are welcomed!


You can connect with Denyse here:  Blog  |  FacebookTwitter  |  Instagram (ask to follow)



#ztt, #zentiptuesday, #zen, #balance, #mind, #body, #spirit, #tuesday


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  • Reply Denyse Whelan May 21, 2019 at 8:11 am

    Thank you for the opportunity to share my story about how mandalas and mindfulness and what a difference they are making to my health. I do hope some readers take the chance to check out how easy it can be to make a simple mandala by clicking through.

    Off to Sydney today for my 2 year cancer check! Hope all is good.

    I shall be back later to catch up more.

    Denyse x

    • Reply Min May 21, 2019 at 10:08 am

      My pleasure Denyse – thank you for taking the time to share as part of my ZTT series! All the very best of luck to you for your appointment today! xo

  • Reply Lydia C. Lee May 22, 2019 at 7:08 am

    I’m not sure I get the mandala thing but noticing things, really focusing on what’s around you is a great way to easy depression (because you’re in the now, not your head) #MLSTL

    • Reply Denyse Whelan May 22, 2019 at 2:58 pm

      Yes it is a great thing to do: noticing!! It is the best way to take yourself out of your head I agree. Mandalas just “drew” me in (oops, pun there) and I notice them and really enjoy the rhythmic was of making them and how I get mindful. For my husband it’s wood working and music. For me, it’s being out in nature and noticing AND my mandalas and other patterns. Denyse

    • Reply Min May 22, 2019 at 4:49 pm

      It can be different things for different people I believe but with the same objective and outcome – focussing the mind, distracting from the swirl of thoughts, bringing into the present, relaxing us! I love to draw, crochet, walk and photography! 🙂

  • Reply Terri Webster Schrandt May 22, 2019 at 9:04 am

    As a photographer, I also notice shapes and colors, Min. Denyse’s ideas for creating mandalas look relaxing and the coloring is therapeutic. I do an online coloring app that relaxes me and I can save the image digitally! Reading from #MLSTL today 🙂

    • Reply Denyse Whelan May 22, 2019 at 3:00 pm

      Thanks for your lovely comment Terri. I have always been visually oriented first and when I was retired and no longer as busy with caring for grandkids, making art designs helped me have fun for me. The designs grew into mandalas and because they were/are so peaceful and mindful to create, I have kept on going!

      Denyse x

    • Reply Min May 22, 2019 at 4:51 pm

      I love photography too Terri – it is what relaxes me, distracts my busy mind, brings me into the present. I love ‘light’. You’d know all about ‘the golden hour’ – early morning or late afternoon – my favourite times for photography. I also like to draw and walk and crochet – these all have the same or similar affect on me. I haven’t tried drawing mandalas but will one day! 🙂

  • Reply Leanne | May 22, 2019 at 11:48 am

    Denyse your mandelas are always so pretty – they must take a lot of patience to draw and then colour! I cheat by using a colouring book for my arty side. I totally agree that it puts you into a lovely “zone” where the world around you stops and your brain ceases its churning for awhile.
    Thanks for linking up with us at MLSTL and I’ve shared on my SM 🙂

    • Reply Denyse Whelan May 22, 2019 at 3:02 pm

      Thanks Leanne. I don’t think it’s cheating to use the colouring book. I had quite a few and some pages got coloured but given I “like” a challenge, I decided to give drawing my own mandalas and patterns to colour a go. It is the best way for me to focus on “just one thing” when my head could be racing with concern as it has regarding next cancer appointments etc. In fact, I have a big page of one inch squares I drew and I added an individual design in each over quite a few days, and now using more time-out I am adding black to some of the spaces. It pulls me back to ground.

      Denyse x

    • Reply Min May 22, 2019 at 4:53 pm

      I agree Denyse’s mandalas always look so beautiful! I haven’t drawn any mandalas but do love to draw so must try one day. I love doing things that put me in that “zone” – a lovely escape from the constant whirling thoughts that can go on in the mind. 🙂

  • Reply Debbie Harris May 22, 2019 at 7:34 pm

    This was really informative and interesting post Denyse and Min! I learnt something and agree with others about the creativity and beauty of these mandalas. #mlstl

    • Reply Min May 23, 2019 at 11:17 am

      Glad you enjoyed Denyse’s post Deb! 🙂

  • Reply Nancy W Dobbins May 22, 2019 at 8:34 pm

    Hi Denyse and Min,
    Lovely to see Denyse here, and I love the idea of the Mandalas. They are beautiful, and I can see how they would focus and relax one.

    • Reply Min May 23, 2019 at 11:21 am

      Thanks Nancy – I’m always so impressed by the detail in Mandalas and the effort that goes into creating them. I’ll be seeing them in nature all the time now too! 🙂

  • Reply Christie Hawkes May 22, 2019 at 10:05 pm

    Thank you Min and Denyse. These are beautiful and it was interesting to learn about mandalas. I’ve been attending a Buddhist sangha gathering periodically for a while now, so I enjoyed that connection too. Have a lovely, mindful day. #MLSTL

    • Reply Min May 23, 2019 at 11:23 am

      So glad you enjoyed Denyse’s post Christie and that’s interesting to hear that you could see the connection between Mandalas and your attendance at Buddhist sangha gatherings. Maybe that’s something you could write about one day! 🙂

  • Reply Sue from Sizzling Towards 60 & Beyond May 23, 2019 at 6:37 am

    Hi Min and Denyse, I was positive I had commented on your post but obviously something went wrong. I had never heard of Mandalas until I met Denyse and I love your intricate work. It must be very soothing as you colour them and I love how they are present in plants and nature. I’ll be looking out for them now when I go for my walks. Have a great week and thanks for sharing at #MLSTL. I also visited at #ZTT. xx

    • Reply Min May 23, 2019 at 11:28 am

      Thanks Sue – I think I’ll be seeing Mandalas everywhere in nature when I’m out and about too! 🙂 xo

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