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Lesson Plans


Mandalas

[ Thread ][ Subject ][ Author ][ Date ]
Marsh, Cindy, & Moses Hudson-Knapp (hkfamily)
Tue, 1 Sep 1998 09:38:00 -0400


My wife, Cindy, often has students do a mandala at the beginning of
the year in her public High School art classes here in Vermont. She had
been concerned about how much to explore the psychological dimensions of a
mandala, in contrast to your concern about religious fears. Basically, a
mandala is a circle in which you may places colors and forms and possible
symbols - which on one level are elements of yourself. Suzanne Fincher has
a wonderful book entitled Creating Mandalas for Insight, Healing and
Self-Expression (Boston, Shabala, 1981) paper $15.00 ISBN 087-773-6464.
Suzanne began to explore mandalas guite by accident(?) while grieving the
death of a child. She found that doing artworked comforted her and when
she did a circle with a design within it she felt a little better... which
gradually led her into exploring art therapy and eventually into leading
whorkshops on creating mandalas, one of which I was fortunate to
experience.
Suzanne's book explores the origins of mandalas in MANY
cross-cultural forms from ancient rock carvings, to stonehenge, to Native
American shields, through Tibetan mandalas, rose windows, and more. People
through all ages have been drawn to creating circles. Then Suzanne
explores numerous sugggestions for the processs of creating mandalas. These
have been helpful to Cindy as a teacher and to me in leading workshops (for
Christian adults and teens). Suzanne explores a number of systems for
exploring potential meaning in mandalas including design, color, symbols,
numbers.
Cindy had students do mandalas for years and never talked about
posible meanings because she felt uncomfortable about that. But a couple
of years ago she asked one class if they would like to have me share some
comments with her about POSSIBLE meanings of their mandalas. 85% of the
class wanted her to do that. She was stunned by the overwhelming response.
So we looked at the works together. It was surprising how many of the
works, in terms of design, fit into stages on the "Great Round" of mandala
designs. Many colors and symbols reflected aspects of each student's
character as Cindy experienced them in class. So she talked with them
about some general meanings of colors, symbols, etc. and the class was
thrilled. Adolescents are so hungry to sort out who they are. (Never mind
the rest of us). If you would like to know more about that experience you
may email her.
Even if students do not talk about the symbolism of mandalas,
simply creating one and hanging it up it to see can be a great gift to a
young (or older) person. It allows us to see pieces of our fragmented
lives all gathered together in a circle and helps us get ourselves
"together" whether or not words are ever spoken about symboliusm or
meaning.
Because of my own interest in mandalas and their importance in my
own journey I have sought and reviewed many books about mandalas, and many
of them are heavily oriented toward a particular religious tradition, some
of which are uncomfortable for me because I do not understand or
participate in that framework for seeking meaning in life. I Have found
most other books a little threatening for Christians. But Suzanne's book
is very rich, diverse and inviting.

Rev. Marsh Hudson-Knapp, pastor
First Congregational Church of Fair Haven UCC
Ms. Lucinda Hudson-Knapp, art teacher
Mill River Union High School
19 West Street
Fair Haven, VT 05743
Tel. Church Office 802-265-8864
School: 802-775-1925
Home: 802-265-8605