Jung used mandalas in his psychotherapy by getting patients, who had no knowledge of it, to create individual mandalas.
This enabled him to identify emotional disorders and work towards wholeness in personality. He realized there was a great deal of similarity in the images they created.
Mandala is a graphical representation of the center (the Self at Jung). It can appear in dreams and visions or it can be created spontaneously as by drawings all formulated into lived experience. In our dreams, the mandala indicates the phenomenon of centering of the ego in relation to the psychic wholeness.
— Michael Koth, MyPhysicology.com
Jung and Mandala
Mandala is a graphical representation of the center (the Self to Jung). It can appear in dreams and visions or it can be created spontaneously as by drawing. It is present in the cultural and religious representations.
Examples of mandala can be found in all the ancient cultures. We find it in Christianity under the form of frescos with animal images representing apostles (and the zodiac). The astrologic zodiac and its versions are examples of mandala. Also, in the Indian spiritual practices we find fascinating examples of mandala, with symbols of the local pantheon.
In yoga practices, mandala can be a support for meditation or an image that must be internalized through mental absorption. This image organizes the inner energies and forces of the practitioner and puts them in relationship with his ego-consciousness.
Generally speaking, a mandala is a geometrical form – a square or a circle – abstract and static, or a vivid image formed of objects and/or beings.
In our dreams, the mandala indicates the phenomenon of centering of the ego in relation with psychic wholeness. It is part of the individuation process as described by Jung in his works.
In modern dreams, a mandala can be a sophisticated electronic device: an electronic watch or a piece of sophisticated circular machinery. Often the UFOs seen in the sky or in dreams are also mandalas.
Other mandala images can be circular fountains, parks, and their radial alleys, square market places, obelisks, buildings with a circular or square shape, lakes, rivers (radial water networks).
In Jungian therapy, which includes the recognition and the conscious integration of the contents of the collective unconscious, the spontaneous drawing of mandalas is required.
There are a lot of illustrations that testify this technique practiced by Jung himself.
Carl Jung About Mandalas
In 1938, I had the opportunity, in the monastery of Bhutia Busty, near Darjeeling, of talking with a Lamaic rimpoche, Lingdam Gomchen by name, about the khilkor or mandala. He explained it as a dmigs-pa (pronounced ”migpa”), a mental image which can be built up only by a fully instructed lama through the power of imagination. He said that no mandala is like any other, they are all individually different. Also, he said, the mandalas to be found in monasteries and temples were of no particular significance because they were external representations only.
The true mandala is always an inner image, which is gradually built up through (active) imagination, at such times when psychic equilibrium is disturbed or when a thought cannot be found and must be sought for, because it is not contained in holy doctrine.
It seems to me beyond question that these Eastern symbols originated in dreams and visions, and were not invented by some Mahayana church father.
It is not without importance for us to appreciate the high value set upon the mandala, for it accords very well with the paramount significance of individual mandala symbols which are characterized by the same qualities of a – so to speak – “metaphysical” nature. Unless everything deceives us, they signify nothing less than a specific centre of the personality not to be identified with the ego.
— Psychology and Alchemy, Princeton University Press, 1993)