The Mandala Medicine Movement

“Creativity awakens in us the power of now and brings value and meaning to every aspect of our lives.”

One of the ancient principles of Mandala making from India and Tibet is that their creation signifies the transformation of a universe of suffering into one of joy.

The Mission of the Mandala Medicine Movement is to bring mandalas as points of connection, beauty and peace to cities and towns all over the world. Foundational to our method is that it is free, involves people of all ages and all artistic abilities. We are fostering the next generation of community arts activists in the method so the joy, beauty and sense of belonging may be shared and continue to grow in our communities.

The Community Mandala is a large painting on the ground, in the street or in a park, that is designed and planned with a team and brought to the community to paint. It is a 40ft-60ft Diameter circular painting that is drawn with chalk and painted with tempera paints. It is not permanent and can last for months, fading over time. One of the ancient principles of Mandala making from India and Tibet is that their creation symbolises the transformation of a universe of suffering into one of joy.

Community Mandala making is often allied with city celebrations and special events such as Earth Day, etc. They provide a "magic carpet" or stage upon the ground on which ceremonies for special events can take place. They also provide a beautiful stage for spoken word, musical and dance performances to take place. 

(To bring the Mandala Medicine Movement to your town please email River at with the subject "Mandala Medicine Movement.")

 Mandala Medicine Movement Benefits:

  1. Creates a sense of place in present time
  2. Adds cultural value and community identity
  3. Adds uniqueness and meaning to the community
  4. It’s free and it provides a rare melting pot for co-creating intergenerationally and across economic strata.
  5. It creates a positive feeling about the community which has provided it
  6. It creates a sense of belonging for many of the people who paint on it

We base our method on these principles:

  • Inclusivity - all ages, all abilities.
  • Honesty - We are sincere and straightforward in our communications
  • Love - we treat each other as friends. We care about each other and exercise and model compassion.
  • Humility - everyone is important. Their presence and participation has value.
  • Creativityeveryone is a creative and we encourage and inspire participants to be brave and to allow their creativity to shine forth.
  • Generosity - All materials and guidance are provided free of charge to participants. This is possible because of generous support from the community through donations, grants, support from the city and local  organizations and the volunteerism of our friends, neighbors and visitors. 
  • Love of Place - We guide the pictorial artists to consider what they love about their locale and to consider the four elements, Earth, Air, Fire and Water. This directs them to the “spirit of place” which places the participants in the here and now, and is foundational in the mandala method. 
  • Cohesiveness - All participants and helpers are guided to work well together. We foster harmony in the space.
  • Freedom and Improvisation - we encourage sharing ideas on the spot and supporting each other's expression in the space. 
  • Respect - we respect each other, from the smallest baby to the eldest and all those in between. 
  • Peace - a peaceful atmosphere is promoted and protected.
  • Wisdom - we make decisions and take action keeping the good of the individual and the whole in mind. We apply our experience and knowledge with sound judgement. 
  • Legacy - We are sharing this method of community engaged mandala making with the intention of leaving a living legacy and published “blueprint” for those yet to come. 

The painting event works best when we have “grandmothers” in leadership.  Participants naturally feel safe and seen when elder women are facilitating. Grandmothers care for others and have come to terms with their egos and that's where we want to lead from. This comes from natural order. Our elders who have reached mastership guide the group.

The method works best with a mix of ages and genders on the support team. That is not to say that younger people or other genders cannot lead, it is an observation from over 30 years of the method. 

Quotes from the Community:

 "The mandala allows a community to tell a story together of identity both local and global. As a large public art piece it enhances and creates identity in the public space. It transforms cities as well as the way people recognize and contemplate the world around them."

"The mandala is like putting a carpet down on the earth, a gathering place for curiosity and fun seekers and appreciators to meet. Small children especially, and children of all ages, are attracted and delighted and run and play on it."

"Each Mandala shows the uniqueness of the community and is a reflection of the people, the time and place in which it is made."

“I learned about an incredibly thoughtful, intricate and planned process that involves members of the community across generations, backgrounds and artistic experiences. It demonstrates what community can do when it works together on a shared vision with a solid plan, and skilled leadership.” 

"The Mandala is a multi-collaborative effort to bring together various participants of a community to work together in the making of the beauty that is and surrounds the Mandala. Whether it be hand on painting the day of the Mandala, pre designing, marketing, strategizing, production, networking, or volunteering, there are opportunities to be part of it in many ways."

"Through its structure, there is an ability to improvise one's art, making a one of a kind, in person/real time collaborative piece unique unique to it's time, place, and design."

 "The mandala is inclusive - not just to various ages but to varied cultural identities, learning differences, diverse socialization approaches ( a person can work alone or in concert with others )The mandala is an exercise in geometry and mathematics in which supporter and participants can engage with in a variety of ways that suit their desire and skills and also offers educational opportunities."

 "The mandala is structured play encouraging individualism and artistic vision within the context of a universal message. The Mandala reminds us that from everyday items we can create beauty and meaning." 

"I consider my participation in your Ojai mandalas a part of your mentorship. Learning about mandalas from you has changed my life, as my community, San Juan Bautista, now has her own mandala project each year! I love the way you put it, River: I'm part of a lineage, now. and honored to be so.”  

(To bring the Mandala Medicine Movement to your town please email River at with the subject "Mandala Medicine Movement.")