Three effective ways to teach children and teenagers about mandalas
Mandalas are geometric patterns that start from a central point and work outward in repeating patterns, often integrating symbols and vibrant colors. A circle within a circle is a universal pattern full of symbolic meaning. It is simple but contains an element of the eternal. Mandalas remind us of our relationship with the infinite world both beyond and within our bodies and minds.
There are numerous ways to teach children and adolescents 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 blooming flowers and appreciate their circular and repeating patterns. Increased awareness of the many manifestations of mandalas in nature can begin by examining an atom. Each cell is a mandala. On a larger scale, the universe with the rotation of the planets around the sun or the shape of galaxies and other cosmic manifestations show that mandalas are 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 people to find mandalas in previously unknown places.
Examine the universal cultural use of mandalas
Mandalas are found all over 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 almost every culture and religion. Showing children and teens the universal nature of this art form helps build connections and cultural understanding. Two easy ways to teach the use of mandalas by different groups include:
- Investigation project: Providing a list of cultures/religions (Buddhist, Hindu, Christian, Celtic, Mesoamerican, Aboriginal, etc.), allows children to look up the use of mandalas by that culture/religion. This is very effective in pairs or small groups where each group is assigned a 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 to its geographic location, including a discussion of similarities and differences.
Create personal mandalas
Once children and teens have a basic understanding of mandalas, creating their own mandala allows them to take ownership and integrate the principles being taught.
Personal Mandalas: Personal mandalas are often used as a form of meditation or color therapy and help calm the mind and nurture the soul. Producing specific multicolored mandalas is a creative and individual process. Any variety of media can be used, including sand, shells, tiles, string, chalk, collage, crayons, paints, glass, fabric, etc. However, it is important to maintain the classic repeating geometric shapes and patterns of 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 is explored when a group works together to create a representation of their time together.
Mandalas are powerful. Its presence throughout nature and its use by many cultures demonstrates its connection to humanity and the universe. Teaching children and teenagers about mandalas helps them better understand the world and themselves.
Visit Mandalas Universal Across Cultures for images and explanations of the use of mandalas by a variety of cultural and religious groups.