Descriptions of things can only go so far. I can describe the incredibly soft t-shirt I’m currently wearing – but if I’m doing that while standing right in front of you, what do you think you’re going to do? You’re going to reach out and touch it.
The adoption of the sand mandala in North America has not yet taken off as a viable alternative to the meditation practices we already know. And part of the reason is because of accessibility. Very few people have actually seen a sand mandala being worked on. Even less people have the tools necessary to complete one. I can describe the feeling you get when you’re working on one – the intense state of mindfulness you’re able to reach. But these are just descriptions. These descriptions are validated once you touch or experience the thing that is being described.
To go back to my first example – if I’m standing in front of you describing how soft my t-shirt is, you’re going to reach out, touch it, and determine just how soft it is for yourself. We want to do the same with the sand mandala. There have been many posts describing its benefits and how wonderful it is. Now, we want you to reach out and touch it. We want you to experience it for yourself. That is the reason why we’re taking part in this year’s Metaphysical Show of Montreal. They will provide us with a platform that we can use to share this wonderful meditation practice with the public. They will provide a platform where people can come and touch it. You can win a free Sand Mandala Set just by trying it live!
The event will take place in Montreal on the 29th of July. For more information, visit their website
Last weekend, we had our very own table at the Metaphysical Show here in Montreal. We had the opportunity to share with people the meditative power of the sand mandala. The brave ones stepped up to the plate and tried it out. Others were captivated by the calm and concentration of those who were doing the sand mandala. To all of you – We say “Thank you”. We are super happy to have been able to share this practice with so many of you and look forward to doing it again very soon. In the meantime, here are some pictures from the day:
Meditation is a tough thing to practice. Our brains are constantly packed with thoughts that keep running all day long. So, to all of the sudden ask yourself to turn your mind off and not think of anything for ten or even five minutes is, to most of us, ridiculously unrealistic.
Nevertheless, I think we can all agree that clearing our minds every now and then is becoming more and more important. That’s why it is vital to find ways that make it easy for you to get into a meditative state. For some, Yoga does the trick. Others find that running helps them clear their mind. For us, it is the sand mandala art meditation practice.
Sand Mandala Art meditation is relatively new in North America. But it has been around for a long long time. In short, this is a Tibetan Buddhist tradition involving the creation and destruction of symmetrical patterns made from colored sand. That, however, is a definition that doesn’t begin to scratch the surface. The sand Mandala stands for so much more than that. It is a vehicle to generate compassion, which stems from the realization of the connectedness between your personal circle, your social circle and ultimately the universe. This tool also nurtures and develops mindfulness; and it also highlights the impermanence of reality. The word “Mandala” is a Sanskrit term that is translated to mean “world in harmony”. Tradition dictates that after completing the beautiful design, the sands must be swept up and discarded. This represents the impermanence of all that exists. It teaches us that life is beautiful, colorful, and fleeting. Therefore, we should make the most out of it.
The video below shows the process of completing a sand mandala design. The whole thing took one person about a week to complete, with just an hour to ninety minutes of work every day. The incredible thing was that this period of time would usually fly by, given that it was so easy for the person using it to get into a meditative flow.
Benefits of the Mandala
As you go through your own practice, you will notice surprising changes to how you perceive things and how you view the world. These benefits vary from person to person, but can be grouped into four broad branches: Focus, Connectedness, Patience, and Mindfulness.
Completing a Mandala is not easy. It requires your full attention. But as you see the sand fill the grooves of the board, your mind starts letting go of worries and to-do lists. The noise of daily life suddenly starts to quiet down – allowing you to achieve a level of focus that is hard to come by. The more times you go through the process, the easier it gets to translate this focus to other areas of your life – allowing you, for example, to: become more productive, easily establish priorities, and immerse yourself in the task at hand.
Patterns in the Mandala are generally concentric. The internal designs remind us of our inner personal circles, the middle ones symbolize our relationship with our community, and the external ones symbolize our connectedness with the world. By attaining a balance between these three circles, we are able to experience a ‘world in harmony’. The colors you use might be chosen to express a particular feeling. With every time you complete the Mandala, you will notice the evolution of that relationship – and how your mood changes accordingly.
The first few times you try to complete your Mandala, you will feel an urge to finish it the same day. This often happens due to our impatience. We want to see the finished product and we want to see it now. With time, and through practice, you will feel more at ease with stepping away from the Mandala for the moment – coming back to it reinvigorated at a later time. This is extremely useful in our daily lives. There are so many instances where we can avoid getting angry or frustrated if we simply knew how to walk away temporarily and come back to the situation at a later time. This tool allows you to hone that skill.
It is hard to look at something you just made; something beautiful; something that took effort to complete; and consciously get rid of it. Instead, we tend to cling to material things. The Mandala teaches you that everything in life is temporary – your house, your job, your car, your relationships, even life itself. This realization makes you mindful of everything around you. Mindfulness allows you to appreciate the things you spend time on and the people that surround you.
Let us know in a comment below what is your favorite form of meditation. We’d love to hear from you!
I was 12 years old and I was being bullied by an older kid. He was 13 and he kept making jokes about me, pushing me around, kicking me and pretending he was about to punch me so I would flinch – showing the world my fear. I had a small group of friends and one of them defended me a couple of times –which was embarrassing for me. They would ask me: How can you Continue reading “How a couple of punches helped me find love”→
I was telling my best friend who is just starting a family how I faced some challenging situations and still managed to be smiling and start new projects. At some point, he asked me -how do you manage at work or in your relationships to not lose it completely? To what I answer – I do lose it and it used to be very frequently. I just kind of gave up, I gave up arguing with my partner, or coworkers, because in the heat of the argument I can have one of the following outcomes:
Am I able to prove my point to the other person that is agitated? Most likely not.
If I’m right, who cares? Probably I am damaging something more important which is the relationship itself
The most important thing about surrender to the conflict was not the fact that I stopped wasting time and energy arguing but that I would wait for a better opportunity to respond, keeping the relationship in good stand and well, why not….my own health. I’m not a guru but I learned from losing so many million arguments in my 40 something years.
My friend who facing a work dilemma, and knows how hot headed I used to be, then asked me -Then, how do you do to control the otherwise natural impulse to respond, moreover when you are right or when you notice somebody is just saving face while possibly making you look bad?
I spoke like 5 minutes about how multiple examples, but then we needed to go back to our offices, and I said, in summary what makes me rekindle the relationship with my girlfriend, what have saved me from losing my temper, what have given me best results in personal and professional life is to follow these 3 easy to remember steps:
1 No matter what delay your response.
Most of the time, we feel that we need to have an immediate answer to look good, or that we would lose the argument of something. Learn to take a pause, knowing or not the answer, take a pause, it would make you look better and smarter (think of Obama). It will help you to think and prepare your answer. It will help you to even evaluate if the issue in question deserves an answer. Just always delay your response.
2 Look at yourself as if it was a movie, then think how you’d like to look
Ask yourself: Are you mad? Are you agitated by this issue or by past issues? Do you feel pressured to respond? Is it your ego talking on your behalf? Are you just trying to win the argument? What are the stakes?
Act as your hero in the movie of your own life. Or as I’ve read many times: What advice would you give to your best friend if she/he was in the same situation?
Remember it is always better to be known for being nice and good team player than for being a know it all. Don’t burn bridges. You can take distance and yet be elegant, decisive and kind. Opportunities come easier when your reputation is of openness and team player.
3 Measure the consequences
Sometimes, we are too quick to respond and we don’t give ourselves the chance to evaluate the consequences. Some situations don’t even deserve and answer. Some answers are better given verbally other in written. Most often than not, the results we want are not achieved by winning an argument, and very often we assume others position entering in an unnecessary conflict and making others feel bad. As a project manager, I know that assumptions alone are dangerous, every assumption must be made (if required) putting ourselves in the other person situation, and always accompanied by a risk assessment. For example, would you absolutely need to eat at the place of your choice sacrificing your partners and family experience? I personally rather have a good time, by enjoying and making others enjoy the moment instead of insisting until the other party gets mad. After all who would want to eat if everyone else is angry?
These steps are not going to give you the path of the fame and fortune. They will surely make you flow better in your own path and making your life just simpler and more pleasurable, for you and the ones that surrounds you.
Finally, my friend said -wow how did you change so much? you are so good, it must really help at work.
To which I replied – by making the same stupid mistake so many times, that I’ve gotten so tired, and so much to lose that ended up giving up and started meditating. As with any sport responding this way is question of practice, the more you practice the better you get. I still fail many times, but I remember to practice again and again. Meditation surely had helped me a great deal to delay the response, detach from the situation, looking back at myself from the outside (step 2), breath and know that is not that important winning an argument, It is not that you will get paid more, it is not that you’d lose your position in life. I just remember that I have much more to win by earning trust and having a reputation of teachable-team player.