Donnalley, E. (2021). Mandala – path of integration: A phenomenological study [Unpublished Master’s thesis]. Alef Trust & Liverpool John Moores University.

Globally, we are experiencing a pandemic mental health crisis. Adolescents and adults have not been adequately educated with tools and practices to regulate the difficult emotions inevitably present in life. This can lead to mental dis-ease. Personal mandalas are being increasingly used in therapeutic and clinical settings to enhance psychological well-being, integrate trauma, reduce negative mood states and increase self-knowledge. The purpose of this phenomenological study is to explore the lived experiences of five individuals. We follow their experiential process of creating three personal mandalas and attempt to understand if they enter an altered state of consciousness similar to meditation. Meditation is known to be a practice that brings physiological and psychological benefit that involves focused attention and calm to the mind. It is theorized that the mandala may be a valuable alternative to meditation with similar benefits. Results indicate that all five participants had a meditative-type experience while creating mandalas, and four of those five may have entered what might be considered an altered state of consciousness.

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