Take a gallery walk to see some amazing creations through

art and writing!

Mandalas, Sculpture, Enrichment &

Essay-writing Class: November 2020

In this class, students learned about how Tibetan monks create mandalas as a form of Mindful meditation. In a time of uncertainty and challenge, promoting and practicing mindfulness has never been more relevant to the wellbeing of adults and children alike. Hence, students learned about art as a mindful practice. They drew 2-D paper mandalas that reflected  their unique personality and ideas about the world. Exploring the idea of impermanence and ephemerality, student then created sand art mandalas that were purposely  swept away. With each lesson, students built on to concepts with a growing word bank, discussion and deepening insights. They wrote reflections that later served as pre-writing exercises for essay writing. These essay pieces, like the art work, beautifully capture the students' unique outlook, creativity, and experiences. 

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The mandala project that was a beautiful way for students to create and work on literacy skills simultaneously!


Class Objectives

  • To construct and illustrate a mandala that reflects one’s personalities and ideas about the world.

  • To examine one’s many sides, opposing traits, strengths, and weaknesses with a unifying element at the center of the mandala.

  • To learn about the historical and cultural context of mandalas.

  • To write about a personal mandala and what it reflects about oneself.

  • To practice mindfulness

  • To learn organizational writing strategies 

  • To bridge time zones, place, and experience by connecting, sharing and having fun as a learning community!







The word mandala originates from the Sanskrit word

for circle. A mandala contains symbols of a person’s

  1. inner self,

  2. guiding principles, and

  3. overall ideas about the world.


The significance of objects within a mandala is conveyed by

  1. shape,

  2. size &

  3. color (and are usually abstract designs or specific drawings of people, places, and ideas that are central to a person’s life.)

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One of the highlights of this 4 week class was welcoming professor and artist, Nan Park to join our class. She shared samples of her art work and taught students about the role of mindfulness in art.  Her work included examples of  "permanent" collage work and also ephemeral art that uses and draws upon nature as inspiration. 

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Quotes from Students 

"The whole project made me feel calm."

"Pouring the sand, not knowing quite where it was going was at first a little frustrating because I wanted to control it. Then, I just let it flow out and got excited by the design I made."

"My mandala projects taught me things about myself that I hadn't really thought about before."

"When I started this class, I had never heard of a mandala and I had no idea what it was. I now know that mandala art is  not just pretty to look at, but meant o help us notice."

" I thought sweeping away the mandala might make me sad because I thought I was destroying my beautiful art. As I brushed the sand and made designs, I then felt like I was the wind and water from nature. I also noticed the new designs were sometimes more beautiful than the first! Then I was happy being reminded that nothing was actually destroyed; just changed."


 "Ephemeral art teaches you to think about and embrace change."

"I can't believe how beautiful these turned out. All of the colors. All the different ways we created something and yet each is unique, just like us."


Excerpts from Student Essays

           A mandala is a meditative art form traditionally made of sand. Tibetan monks have made them for centuries to meditate upon, clear the mind and promote peace and goodness in the world. Mandala is a Sanskrit word meaning circle, or circle of life, and can be made of concentric circles. These concentric circles have meanings; the inside or inner circle is what is most unique to a person--their inner thoughts, for example. The middle show the guiding beliefs a person has , like believing in and being kind to others. The outside is like the concrete world and what the world around a person is like.

 The Tibetan traditional mandalas require 4-5 years of training and can take many months and even years to complete! These mandalas are made with sand flowing through funnels that make the design very precise and exact. While I did not spend my mandala is not as exact in design, I believe mine is also very beautiful and served the same purpose. In fact, I felt the same way Tibetan monks do when they made their mandalas; calm. My design was also made with colored sand and some objects I had collected from nature. The result was a design that consisted of mostly blues, turquoise, purple and other colors. My mandala was  true to me; it was uniquely my own and about my life.  Mandalas are beautiful, symmetrical works of art and a great way to learn about and exercise mindfulness.

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               We started this project to help with mindfulness and also to learn more about ourselves. Mandalas are a visual and 3-D way to show your inner self. A mandala is a circle of peace for mediation and better understanding.  It can be made in many different ways. One way is to make them out of coloured sand, just as Buddhist monks have made for centuries  designed with geometrical designs. Mandalas are a great way to reflect our beliefs and allow for mediation, healing, and the bringing of hope. The people of Tibet started mandalas and thought it was a positive form of mediation. The technique approximately takes five years to develop. When Tibetans finally finish mandalas, they wipe it away. It serves as a reminder of impermanence and that nothing is permanent in human nature.

              I made two mandalas; one drawn and one made out of materials like sand. On my drawn mandala, I used symbols to represent my life. They include special aspects of my life; my family, interest and belief system. My illustration was not as symmetrical as others, but I do like what I did. I especially liked my sand mandala, however. As I moved the sand all over the plate and put objects like feathers and leave on it, I felt relaxed, calm, centered, and mindful. I also felt a little nervous that I might knock it over and have sand pour all over the floor. In the middle of my sand mandala I put  swirls with colours of colours and let my mind feel free. When I was brushing it away, I felt a little sad. Yet then, I felt really satisfied when all of the colours mixed together, however. I had fun making and drawing my personal mandalas. I hope other people do this kind of mediation because it is  interesting, enjoyable and fun.

        I used the mandalas that I made to represent; my personality through art. In the process of creating my own mandalas, I found my guiding principles and core values. I used this as a chance to represent me. I used symbols and drawings for this representation. I also used metaphors in my illustration mandala. Some  of the metaphors that relate to nature in both of my mandalas. Both mandalas were relaxing to make. I enjoyed the time I spent working on them because the world felt peaceful while I focused on my work. The time we spent working on our mandalas and our essay was a time to reflect on ourselves and the world around us. This is especially important, as we are living through such a strange and sometimes chaotic time. History has shown that mandalas can benefit your mental health through meditation. It allows your brain to clear itself and to let your mind wander. During a time of uncertainty, mandalas and mindfulness have a special purpose. They are actually a way of staying healthy. Additionally, mandalas are a beautiful way of practicing mindfulness and showing how life isn’t permeant and that that is actually okay and a beautiful thing.

        I think mandalas are really calming and really help with stress. At the same time, they are art and are simply beautiful. For my mandala, I have a flower in the center to represent that I am always growing. On one half the flower there are waves of the sea. I also represented the montains and views that my mum, dad, brother and I see on our trips to Galway and Roscommon. My creation respresent what inspires me, what I am grateful for and what I want to be in my life.