Part 4 – The Meditative Reflection of Flower Petal Mandalas

This is a four-part series on DIY flower arrangements and the mental benefits of floral therapy.

Part 1 – Introduction to the Power of Flowers
Part 2 – Floral Healing through Preparation
Part 3 – The Art of Ikebana
Part 4 – The Meditative Reflection of Flower Petal Mandalas

Flower Petal Mandalas – a Connection With the Universe

What if you don’t have a vase, or want to try a different kind of flower arrangement? A flower petal mandala is another wonderful form of flower arranging that involves mindfulness.

Have you heard of ‘Mandalas‘? Mandala means ‘circle’ in Sanskrit, and are sacred symbols used in meditation, prayer, healing, and art therapy. Mandalas originate in Tibetan Buddhism practice. Geometric configurations are made of crushed semiprecious stones and laid on a flat surface as an offering that symbolizes the universe. The mandalas are created by multiple monks intricately working together for several weeks. This process is a way to meditate on the impermanence of life, one of the important teachings in Buddhism. The completed mandalas also depict different stories and teachings of Tibetan Buddhism. As a ceremonial act, the beautiful sand mandalas are then swept into a pile, carefully transported, and released into flowing water streams in nature. This act symbolizes the hope of spreading the message of holy blessings to the world.

Tibetan monk creating a sand mandala

Different forms of mandalas are found across Buddhism, Hinduism, Jainism, Christianity, Shintoism, and other indigenous religions. A great traditional example of mandalas incorporating flower petals are found at the annual Hindu festival called Onam in Kerala, India. During their 10 day festival, a flower art mandala called Pookkalam is created slowly expanding in circle sizes as the days progress. They believe the floral carpet symbolizes the fights between demons and demigods, while the circle rings represent deities in Hinduism. 

Mandala Art Floral Therapy

white flowers

Why are mandalas used in floral therapy? Mandalas were made aware in therapy after Swiss psychologist Carl Jung introduced its use in his psychological studies. He believed in mandala art as a healing activity, a path to self-awareness, and a connection to the current psyche of a person. Since then, the mandala has been used in various ways within art and floral therapy. Studies indicate that mandala art therapy decreases anxiety and impulsive behavior while boosting mood, increasing cognition, and nurturing creative development. The slow attentive process to create mandalas in many rituals promote meditation and mindfulness by the sole act of it too.

DIY: How to Create a Flower Petal Mandala

Flower mandala
  1. Gather a collection of floral picks, including branches, leaves, and rocks. We want multiples of the same kinds to ensure the creation of repetitive patterns.
  2. Find a comfortable space with a flat surface to create your mandala. This can be on the ground outdoors, on the floor indoors, on your desk, on a piece of paper, or even on a plate.
  3. Think about how you would like to use your materials. You can use just the flower petals, as Alisa Burke does in her video, where all the petals are pre-plucked. Or you may want to incorporate various materials including whole flowers like Well + Good demonstrates in their video. Online images and videos may help your inspiration.
  4. Create a relaxing environment where you can concentrate on the process without any distractions.
  5. Start from the center and work outwards, creating a circle.
  6. Make sure to keep a symmetrical design throughout. It can be helpful if you divide the circle into sections with grids.
  7. As soon as you finish, sweep away the flower petal mandala or leave it in nature to wither away. The whole point is to enjoy the process, appreciate the beauty nature offers, and accept the impermanence in life.

Embracing Impermanence in Floral Therapy

Small pink flower petals and leaves

You may feel the want to preserve your flower petal mandala when you finish. After all, we did previously mention the sole benefits of displaying floral arrangments, and you’ve spent so much time making it. However, a great part of the benefit and lesson this mandala activity offers is in the ephemerality of it.

“Impermanence is a principle of harmony. When we don’t struggle against it, we are in harmony with reality.

– Pema Chodron

Embracing impermanence is an essential value in Buddhism as well as positive psychology. We as humans have a tendency to try and hold on to things, whether it be objects, status, money, relationships, memories, emotions, etc. For many, ‘change’ is sometimes a fear factor, where preservation and permanence of a situation can seem important. We can try to liberate ourselves by letting go of our desire to control and accept seemingly negative situations when they occur. Becoming less reactionary to fleeting circumstances will help us gain the stability, perspective, and clarity we need to move forward. The capability to handle forthcoming transitory aspects in life, whether good or bad, is a strength to aspire for. As much as it may seem a small part of the exercise, letting go of your beautiful flower mandala at the end is the part that teaches us these perspectives of life.

Woman with a flower crown

I hope this four-part series, DIY Floral Arrangements as a Therapeutic Art Practice, was helpful in understanding the therapeutic power of flowers and floral therapy. There are so many ways to go about enjoying DIY floral arrangements and hopefully some of the ideas here can enhance your experience and perspective for your future projects. Even if you don’t feel like making one yourself, it can be fun to just think about the origins of flowers and the arranger’s intent when you spot at an arrangement next time.

→ Looking to improve your mental health? Try the SELF MIND app FREE for 1 week!
If you’re looking for more tips on how to care for your mental health, check out some of our past blog posts!


1. Adobe. (n.d.). Adobe Color. Adobe Color. Retrieved July 8, 2020, from

2. Annamadeit. (2017, August 20). Ikebana – a brief overview of Japanese flower arrangements. Flutter & Hum.

3. Augustin, S. (2013, June 1). The Mental Health Benefits Of Flowers. HuffPost.

4. Babouchkina, A., & Robbins, S. J. (2015). Reducing Negative Mood Through Mandala Creation: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Art Therapy32(1), 34–39.

5. Bauer, B. (2020, June 6). Aromatherapy: Is it worthwhile? Mayo Clinic.

6. Belcher, B. (1993). Creative Flower Arranging. Amsterdam University Press.

7. Boeckmann, C. (2020, March 2). FLOWER MEANINGS: THE LANGUAGE OF FLOWERS. Old Farmer’s Almanac.

8. Bolwerk, A., Mack-Andrick, J., Lang, F. R., Dörfler, A., & Maihöfner, C. (2014). How Art Changes Your Brain: Differential Effects of Visual Art Production and Cognitive Art Evaluation on Functional Brain Connectivity. PLoS ONE9(7), e101035.

9. Canning, D. (n.d.). How Ikebana can positively influence your life « Unique Japan. Unique Japan. Retrieved July 10, 2020, from

10. Eason, A. (2018, April 17). How To Embrace Impermanence and Why It Is So Important. Adam Eason.

11. East Coast Daily. (2017, August 16). Traditional Athapookalam: Symbolic meaning of Pookalam made during Onam. East Coast Daily English.

12. Hess, K. (Host). Anderson, M. (Guest). (2019, June 19) “EP 94: Flower Arranging as Therapy and Art with Morgan Anderson.” The Flowerlounge with Katie Hess. [Audio podcast]. Retrieved from

13. Homma, I., Oizumi, R., & Masaoka, Y. (2015). Effects of Practicing Ikebana on Anxiety and Respiration. Journal of Depression and Anxiety04(03), 1–5.

14. Institute for the Psychological Study of Human Flower Relations. (n.d.). Psychological Study of Human flower relations. Retrieved July 13, 2020, from

15. Jacoby, M. (2019, February 13). The state of glass recycling in the US. Chemical & Engineering News.

16. Japan Home. (2019, November 3). How To Ikebana – The Japanese Art Of Flower Arranging.

17. Kostyunina, N. Y., & Drozdikova-Zaripova, A. R. (2016). Adolescents` School Anxiety Correction by Means of Mandala Art Therapy.International Journal of Environmental & Science Education11(6), 1105–1116.

18. Lee, S.-S., Park, S.-A., Kwon, O.-Y., Song, J.-E., & Son, K.-C. (2012). Measuring Range of Motion and Muscle Activation of Flower Arrangement Tasks and Application for Improving Upper Limb Function. Korean Journal of Horticultural Science and Technology30(4), 449–462.

19. Li, Q., Kobayashi, M., Kumeda, S., Ochiai, T., Miura, T., Kagawa, T., Imai, M., Wang, Z., Otsuka, T., & Kawada, T. (2016). Effects of Forest Bathing on Cardiovascular and Metabolic Parameters in Middle-Aged Males. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine2016, 1–7.

20. Moriyama, M., & Moriyama, M. (2000, January). A Comparison between Asymmetric Japanese Ikebana and Symmetric Western Flower Arrangement. Graduate School of Keio University.

21. Munro, C. (2019, October 28). You Know Slow Food. But Have You Heard About Slow Flowers? Refinery29.

22. Prinzing, D. (n.d.). Slow Flowers. Slow Flowers. Retrieved July 8, 2020, from

23. Sasaki, M., Oizumi, R., Homma, A., Masaoka, Y., Iijima, M., & Homma, I. (2011). Effects of Viewing Ikebana on Breathing in Humans. The Showa University Journal of Medical Sciences23(1), 59–65.

24. Shimbo, S. (2007). The Ten Virtues of Ikebana. Living Now.

25. Singh, S. (2019, October 7). Ikebana – Where Creativity meets Spirituality. New York Spirit.

26. Slegelis, M. H. (1987). A study of Jung’s Mandala and its relationship to art psychotherapy. The Arts in Psychotherapy14(4), 301–311.

27. Smitheman-Brown, V., & Church, R. R. (1996). Mandala Drawing: Facilitating Creative Growth in Children with ADD or ADHD. Art Therapy13(4), 252–260.

28. Tamil Nadu Agricultural University. (2014, October). Horticulture :: Landscaping :: Flower arrangement-Fresh Flower Arrangement. TNAU Agritech Portal.

29. Watters, A. M., Pearce, C., Backman, C. L., & Suto, M. J. (2013). Occupational Engagement and Meaning: The Experience of Ikebana Practice. Journal of Occupational Science20(3), 262–277.

30. Wilson, K. (2016, March 24). Part 1: What are the brain benefits of looking at art? Little Van Gogh.,pressure%20and%20even%20cortisol%20levels.