Flower Mandalas

Flower Mandalas

Flower Mandalas: My story


I am a psychotherapist, photographer/digital artist, and writer.

I was born in Buffalo, New York, in 1951. I started photographing in high school where, as yearbook editor, I took most of the candid and “art” pictures. After college, I moved to New York City. There, for several years, I did black-and-white street photography, took pictures of musicians for a book I wrote on American folk music, shot an occasional record album cover, and worked part-time as a photojournalist. When I left New York, I left my darkroom — and photography — behind.

In 2001, after a 20-year hiatus, I bought a digital camera and started shooting again. The shift from straight black-and-white, wet-chemistry photography to shooting in color and manipulating images on a computer was literally an eye-opener. Rather than the people and buildings I had shot in my black-and-white days, I found myself shooting patterns of color and light. I learned to manipulate the images, hoping at first merely to improve them, but soon realizing that once an image file was on my hard drive, I could do anything I wanted with it.

Although I still take pictures of street life, nature, and people, my current preoccupation is with transforming photographs of flowers, stone, metal, wood, and the sky into mandala-like images. My early influences included Walker Evans and Diane Arbus. The present work is inspired by the paintings of Georgia O’Keeffe, the nature photographs of Andreas Feininger, and the flower images of Harold Feinstein, with whom I briefly studied.

My personal motivation in creating the Flower Mandala images featured here was to heal from a decade of physical and emotional trauma, the consequence of a near-fatal event in Albany, New York, in 1993. This event, which culminated in a near-death experience, set me on a spiritual path I’m still following today.

Creating the flower mandalas is part of that path. I tend to work on several mandalas at once. On each piece, I spend anywhere from a few hours to a sequence of several-hour sessions spread out over a couple of months. The experience is reminiscent of meditation.

My choice of the hexagram (the Star of David, “beloved” in Hebrew) as the organizing shape for most of these mandalas was subconscious, but I believe this choice was no accident. In many traditions, the Star of David, composed of two overlapping triangles, represents the reconciliation of opposites — male/female, fire/water, and so on. Their combination symbolizes unity and harmony. Listening to what the mandalas were telling me led me out of a dark place and, indirectly, to my decision to become a psychotherapist.

Carl Jung, one of the fathers of modern psychology, believed mandalas are a pathway to the essential Self and used them in his own personal transformation. In a small way, as both psychotherapist and mandala artist, I carry on Jung’s tradition. I live north of Boston, MA., where I do psychotherapy primarily with artists and people with addictive behaviors. I display several of the flower mandalas in my treatment rooms, and from time to time they become part of discussions with clients. The combination of natural elements and digital manipulation seems both to stimulate and to relax them.

The selection of mandalas I’m posting here is part of a book-in-progress. My intent is to pair 52 images with inspirational quotations such that each image-and-quote pair resonates with a fundamental aspect of human experience. I invite participation from anyone who cares to contact me, either through commenting on the blog posts here, by e-mail, or through the Flower Mandalas Project group on Beliefnet.com.

I hope publication of these images, and opening the discussion of art, healing, and transformation to the Beliefnet community, will further the process of harnessing the power of art to heal and to transform on both a personal and a global level.

Your stories

What about you? I invite you to share your stories, ideas, and feelings that pertain to art, healing, and transformation — all the arts, expressive and performing, classical and popular. How has art influenced your life, either as creator or consumer? You can present your stories in the Art, Healing, and Transformation group on Beliefnet.com, or you can e-mail them to me at phototransformations@verizon.net.


More anon,

- David


My Story

Art, Healing, and Transformation group

Flower Mandalas Project group

© 2007, David J. Bookbinder

  • Linda from Virginia

    Beautiful, wonderful images, each so unique, very talented.
    I love looking at a certain plant called hens and chicks. I can’t remember the latin same, maybe sempvirus? One species I have has a cobweb mesh in side the plant. Really cool. Am a artist but also Master Gardener!
    Take care, doing good!

  • Kikipotamus the Hobo

    I’m glad I found your blog, David. I worked with a Jungian analyst for 3.5 years and I also have a deep interest in mandalas because of the transcendent effect they have on me.

  • Elisa


  • Carmen

    Hello my name is Carmen. I am a student of psychology fourth year at the University of Tarapaca in Arica, soy de Chile, a town called Arica, is a small city, I do not think that you know.
    Reach your blog because I love mandalas, was looking for pictures or drawings of these on the Internet, I like drawing, relaxes me a lot. They are very beautiful which have a page.
    At my university we work with Ramos media, we have a blog as faculty and I manage a blog in particular is called theory and psychological systems, because work helping the teacher in that class. Soon the professor begins to pass through C Jung. He left the invitation to visit our Blog and make a comment if you want, if you want I can raise some reflection you. I would, I think it would be very motivating to the students that a psychotherapist them abroad Post.
    This is the blog theory and psychological systems (branch that if you want can make any comment or article):
    And this is the blog of the race, here you can find the link that are on the right side and access other Ramos:

  • samantha

    very inturesting
    im starting to create my very own mandalas

  • http://www.flowers2world.com/send_flowers_online/flowers_gifts_australia.asp send flowers to australia

    Hey great stuff, thank you for sharing this useful information and i will let know my friends as well.

  • Patricia Ramenzoni


  • Marry

    Thank you for sharing very interesting post.I am working in paper writers team and now I am executing work regarding fractals.I think your symmetric flowers can be transformed in homogeneous fractal image.

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H1Pixffh31E&feature=youtu.be Team Mak

    thanks for sharing this to us, your blog is really great we can learn something to it, keep up the good work my friend.

Previous Posts

"Fifty-Two Flower Mandalas" eBook!
How to buy a Fifty-Two Flower Mandalas eBook I've created a PDF version of my book Fifty-Two Flower Mandalas. If you'd like a copy, send $10 to my PayPal address, david@davidbookbinder.com, and I'll email you a download link. The PDF is viewable on tablets such as the iPad and Kindle Fire, as w

posted 11:40:22am Oct. 22, 2014 | read full post »

"Fifty-Two Flower Mandalas" book is here!
Well, almost here. Fifty-Two Flower Mandalas, three years in the making, is nearly complete! Final book copy will go to the printer early next week. Copies of the 228-page, 9"x9" softcover first edition should be available in about three weeks. The price will be $45 plus shipping and sales tax (

posted 1:04:39pm Sep. 20, 2014 | read full post »

Imagination and Reality
Imagination and Reality This showed up in my morning email, via Tricycle magazine, a wonderful center for all things Buddhist: "Imagination draws its energy from a confrontation with desire. It feeds off desire, transmuting and magnifying reality through desire's power. Fantasy does the opposite

posted 9:57:16pm Jan. 22, 2014 | read full post »

Help me choose the 4-5 best essays!
Dear Readers, I'm planning to enter an essay/memoir contest and need to choose 4-5 of the Fifty-Two Flower Mandalas essays from the 58 I've written so far. If any of you have particular essays you remember liking more than others, I'd love to hear about it, as I have no objectivity with them.

posted 10:43:51am Dec. 23, 2013 | read full post »

"Art of Healing" podcast by Bernie Siegel
Art of Healing Just a quick note to let you know about a new podcast on the Art of Healing by Bernie Siegel. The podcast comes to me through the Art and Healing Network. Here's a link to their current podcasts, including this new one by Dr. Siegel: The Art of Healing with Dr. Bernie Siegel More

posted 11:53:09am Dec. 19, 2013 | read full post »

Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.