I got this mandala pendant necklace a month or so ago. I fell in love with it immediately. It has a green and purple design on one side and a pink and orange one on the other.

I was first drawn to mandalas when I found printouts of them online to color with my kids. There’s something incredibly satisfying about choosing the colors, filling in the pattern, and making something beautiful—and it’s also fascinating to see how the same design colored by two different people looks unique in each incarnation.

But a mandala is a lot more than just a sophisticated color-by-number. The word comes from the Sanskrit manda (which means core or quintessence) and la (container). A mandala is the quintessential container—it symbolizes the cosmos and everything within it, much, I think, as the sound of Om represents the sound or energy of the universe.

There are countless intricate, symmetrical designs to be found in nature—think snowflakes, or spiderwebs. Tibetan Buddhist monks create intricate mandala patterns of colored sand and then destroy them, signifying the transience of all things.

This verse from the Hatha Yoga Pradipika (another book I came across during my yoga teacher training) made me think of my mandala pendant:

Empty within, empty without, empty like a pot in space.

Full within, full without, full like a pot in the ocean.

A container being filled and emptied. An inhale and an exhale. Drawing in and extending out.

Our physical body is our own personal mandala: It’s the quintessential container of our self. And we can move our bodies in such a way that we can start to feel that pulsation of being filled and emptied. Of filling and emptying ourselves, in each moment of every day, whether we’re aware of it or not. Just by taking a breath.

I love my necklace not only because it’s lovely and colorful (and my wardrobe needs all the help it can get when it comes to color) but because it’s a reminder, a talisman of sorts. Of all that’s contained in me, in everyone I know, in everything. Of everything.