A mandala meditation is a meditation on a single visual point or object. There are many different sorts of mandala meditation, and the boundary between mandala and trataka meditation is quite fuzzy. Essentially, with a mandala meditation, we pick a single visual point or allow the mind to choose one.
The Significance of Mandala Designs
The mandala designs we often see, associated with Eastern traditions, represent ancient images with many symbolic meanings in the Hindu, Buddhist, and other Eastern traditions. Generally, the lines converge at the centre of a mandala to maintain our focus on that single point at which all lines converge. This is the same as the breathing practices, such as following the breath, except that they use a visual point of focus rather than a sensory one. The meditation is essentially the same.
Cultivating Focus and Awareness
We focus on the single point, the mind wanders, and we return our attention to the single point and repeat. This cyclical process brings us the skill of becoming aware that our mind has wandered and recognises that. This is known as the 'moment of recognition' and is the mental training at the heart of mindfulness meditation. Of course, other meditations, such as gratitude meditation and so on, are immensely useful. Still, for mindfulness meditation, we want to repeat the practice of continuously noticing the mind wandering and returning to some experience. The visual single point of a mandala is ideal.