Mandalas are geometric patterns starting from a central dot, working outward in repetitive patterns, often integrating symbols and vibrant colour. A circle within a circle is a universal pattern full of symbolic meaning. It is simple yet contains an element of the eternal. Mandalas remind us of our relation to the infinite world both beyond and within our bodies and minds.
There are numerous ways to teach kids and teens about the beauty, complexity, universal nature and healing powers of mandalas. Three of which will be discussed here along with specific examples and applications.
Explore Mandalas in Nature
Mandalas are all around us. One simply has to walk through a garden to find beautiful flowers in bloom and appreciate their circular, repetitive patterns. Increasing awareness of the many manifestations of mandalas in nature can begin by examining an atom. Each cell is a mandala. On a grander scale the universe with the rotation of the planets around the sun or the shape of the galaxies and other cosmic manifestations demonstrate mandalas as a fundamental form. Mandalas are present in almost all scientific studies from geology and biology to physics and chemistry. Becoming aware of their ever present nature allows individuals to find mandalas in previously unrecognized locations.
Examine the Universal Cultural Use of Mandalas
Mandalas are found throughout the world. From Tibetan monks who create sand mandalas as a form of devotion, to Navajo sand painting used during complex healing ceremonies, mandalas are present in nearly every culture and religion. Showing kids and teens the universal nature of this art form helps to build connections and cultural understanding. Two easy ways to teach the use of mandalas by different groups include:
- Research Project: Providing a list of cultures/religions (Buddhist, Hindu, Christian, Celtic, MesoAmerican, Aboriginal, etc), allow children to search for the use of mandalas by that culture/religion. This is highly effective in partners or small groups where each group is assigned one culture and then asked to present their findings to the class.
- Matching Game: Using photos of various mandalas and a world map, match the mandala with its geographic location, include a discussion on the similarities and differences.
Create Personal Mandalas
Once kids and teens have a basic understanding of mandalas, creating their own mandala allows for ownership and integration of the principles being taught.
Personal Mandalas: Often personal mandalas are used as a form of meditation or colour therapy and assist in calming the mind and nourishing the soul. Producing specific, multicoloured mandalas is a creative and individual process. Any variety of medium can be used including sand, shells, tiles, string, chalk, collage, crayons, paints, glass, fabric, etc. However, it is important to maintain the shape and repetitive geometric patterns classic to mandalas.
Group Mandalas: Similarly group mandalas offer many personal rewards but also incorporate cooperation and teamwork. These are wonderful expressions to celebrate workshops, events or special celebrations. Connections are strengthened and the use of symbolism explored as a group works together to create a representation of their time together.
Mandalas are powerful. Their presence throughout nature and use by many cultures demonstrate their connection with humanity and the universe. Teaching kids and teens about mandalas helps them to more fully understand the world and themselves.
Visit Mandalas Universal Across Cultures for visuals and explanations of the use of mandalas by a variety of cultural and religious groups.
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