The signs of your deeper self are everywhere you look

Some psychotherapists, most notably Carl Jung, imagined the psychotherapeutic process to be like a mandala. It may be true that the natural process of the psyche attempting to become whole again is also very much like a mandala i.e. that one works their way from where they are on the edge of their psyche toward the center where the Self, the source of their being lay. It’s a healing process really. Spiritually we are said to be complete and whole until we are born and become separated from the whole both psychologically and physically. It’s the Adam and Eve story symbolically imbedded in the birth of every child. But the symbolism doesn’t stop there.


Most religions have some sort of mandala that symbolizes the Way, the path toward the source of our being, the way back to the Eden prior to our birth if you will. Essentially it is the center that represents the goal whether that goal be the Christ, God, or Source or the healing of a fractured soul. Jung in his book, Psychology and Alchemy (1944), wrote, “The way is not straight but appears to go round in circles. More accurate knowledge has proved it to go in spirals…” (pg. 28 in the English version of the 1993 edition). Dreams can be like this as well in that the symbols of a theme can spiral around a central point of the dream.

Navajo Mandala–Found on

It seems as though certain image patterns, very specific symbolic patterns show up across all cultures and even between species e.g. the auspicious symbols of the Tibetan mandala, the Rose mandala of many Christian churches, the mandala of the Azteca, the Navajo and the Hindu, the circular pattern in a rose or the DNA double helix when observed from the top down. All show this spiral pattern circling toward some center.

These repetitive themes remind me of a favorite quote from my mother, “Ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny” a mouthful that is defined in Wiktionary as “the physical, cultural, moral, or intellectual development of each individual [that] passes through stages similar to the developmental stages of that individual’s species, society, or civilization.” We see our development process, what Carl Jung called the Individuation process or Abraham Maslow called the Hierarchy of Needs show up everywhere we go, in our dreams, the spiral of a nautilus, or the face of a sunflower.

Symbolically all manmade mandala represent the movement toward wholeness. These patterns are archetypal in nature and indicate strikingly similar symbolic meanings.

In many ways the patterns represent life itself and the manner in which it works.

An example of a mandala in a dream

When these archetypal symbols such as the mandala show up in my dreams I try to pay special attention because I know there’s important information to be had that’s pertinent to my psychological and spiritual growth.

For me it’s heartening to know that the universe is out there always showing me the way if I can just learn to read its often enigmatic signs.

What’s a mandala?


Think you know what a mandala is? Until about ten years ago I thought it was one of those intricate drawings that Buddhist meditators used to focus their mind. Other than that I imagined it to be a ritual tool of the religion i.e. something to do with the spirit.

Did you know that mandalas show up in your dreams as well? I chuckled at this at first for I don’t ever remember seeing a mandala in any of my dreams. But a closer look revealed some interesting results. I had dreams of circles, car and bicycle wheels and a couple of alien UFOs showed up on two separate occasions. Turns out these might have been mandalas.

So I asked myself, and later Googled, what’s a dream mandala all about?

My research took me to a number of different sources some of which I’d had in my library for ages had I bothered to read the books a little more thoroughly, and no I don’t read every book cover to cover, being more likely to scan and skip to what at the time seemed like a more interesting section before getting what I thought I wanted and shelving the book without finishing it.

The truth is that I probably wasn’t ready to hear the information I’d missed until more recently. That happens a lot and that’s why I try to make a habit of returning to a book more than once to see what I’ve learned in the interim that will make the book teach a different lesson. My favorite book to do this exercise with is Richard Bach’s Illusions. It never ceases to amaze me how much more I understand over time. Some people do this with the Bible and books they read as a young adult or child. It’s a good way to track your own growth I think.

But I want to get back to the mandala thing.

In the Book of Dreams that I’ve developed over the years the entry for mandala can be found in the Archetypes section and looks something like the following.



mandala: Any circle, e.g. a Celtic cross, yantra, a bicycle wheel, rose, and even the shape of your typical UFO represents the wholeness of the personality. Jung believed that they showed up in one’s dreams when you were going through intense personal growth. They can represent the order of ones inner life, the layers of oneself leading to the soul and the center of oneness.



Usually our minds are in constant chaos in that a maelstrom of issues, fears and passions create a continuous imbalance.

The mandala is like a template, or blueprint, for the mind. It does this by showing us that there is within us a central point to which everything else is related. Both the material within ourselves and the external material interface continuously. The patterns of this interface can help us to understand ourselves and our relationship with the world more clearly.

Interestingly the mandalas across every culture and throughout recorded history have shown a quaternary pattern that literally squares the circle i.e. a pattern that brings order to the architecture of the human psyche that the mandala represents.

The mandala seems to show up across all cultures and displaying such a commonality that it makes it part of the collective unconscious of the human psyche.

Carl Jung saw it as an image representing the self and the wholeness within us. It expresses the fully Individuated person. It is said that the Mandala can be read like a dream so as to get some idea of one’s progress in the march toward wholeness. He also suggested that they show up in our dreams when we are ready to transform some aspect of ourselves and/or go deeper into the unconscious


“The mandala is the psychological expression of the totality of the self.”                                                                                                                            –Jung