Mandala Meditation

In a corner of the convention center, a group of Tibetan Monks are gathered and working on a sand mandala. A mandala is traditionally a circular painting or picture used to aid in focusing attention and meditation. TIbetan monks have taken to creating mandalas through sand painting. They spend hundreds of hours creating an intricate mandala made of sand – placing each grain of sand precisely to create a beautiful work of art. They have created an amazing mandala here at the Parliament.

I have visited the area each day to see the progress and to experience this work of art. And to experience this expression of focus and meditation.

I am reminded, as I watch them, of how fast I move all the time and how rarely I sit and do something directed and focused. There are forms of meditation that include working on a task — a task without specific a deliverable — that you work on with diligence and with intent.

I have always been a fan of puzzles — good old-fashioned jigsaw puzzles. I often leave a big puzzle out on the table and find myself drawn to spend time quietly working on the puzzle. It allows me to relax and think less — a blessing on some days. And that has become my form of meditation. I sometimes feel a little guilty about taking time to work on a puzzle — because it feels frivolous … after watching the Tibetans — my mandala is my puzzle and it is my meditation. And I should celebrate the focus.

The more amazing practice is what will happened today. As the mandala is completed, a group of the monks will gather and gently blow the sand away. All of the work will be gone and the beauty will be only a memory. The true beauty of the mandala is the process and the meditation.

May I remember this the next time, when I crumble the puzzle and place it back into the box.

  • Kathleen

    Cathie, I love this reflection. Sometimes we Americans are so production oriented that if there isn’t any measurable, useful, tangible result to our efforts, then there is no purpose to them. A mandala has no “purpose.” It is not “useful.” So it is with much of our meditation and prayer. It is not a vending machine, a factory machine, or even a slot machine!! But is it worthwhile? Yes!!


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