I love mandalas.
They are one of the most effective ways to teach children mindfulness skills while they meditate.
The idea behind mandalas in Buddhist practices is to create the mandala out of coloured sand while paying attention to thoughts, body, breath and emotions. Then when complete, the mandalas are released to symbolise impermanence and non-attachment.
However we can use paper mandalas just as effectively with young people.
If you find it difficult to get your kids to sit still and meditate in the way you think they should, then you need to change the way you think about meditation. Mandalas can help you do this.
The idea is to colour in the mandala while paying attention to thoughts, feelings and the body. An intention can be set (eg; this mandala is to make me feel….. or I would like to let go of this …… ).
Not only does it help kids to meditate, it can be a way for them to express (through colour and shape) what they are feeling and thinking but finding it difficult/impossible to articulate.
It doesn’t have to be a neat and tidy experience – and you don’t need to stay within the lines. The idea is that whatever we are feeling comes out onto the paper. Then the choice is to keep or release the mandala that has the ‘energy imprint’ of what was being experienced at the time.
If you are thinking about teaching your kids mandalas then it’s a good idea to get down there and do them too. Top tip for the adults – use your non-dominant hand. We do this in class and it is a powerful way to bring balance into the body and the mind. Not easy, but worth it! Research by Thomas F. Denson, a psychologist at the University of New South Wales, suggests that using the non-dominant hand can help self regulation – which is an issue for kids with ADHD.
For teens you may think that a mandala is too child-like? But look at the increase in colouring books for adults! Once again, they can help young people express what they are feeling but which they can’t put into words. This releases the inner tension inside the body and the mind. Pinterest is a great source of designs.
Here’s what some of our Connected Kids Tutors had to say about working with mandalas:-
“I found it quite a revelation. However, trying to use my non dominant hand was really unnerving at first and then very liberating as you stop going into doing mode and arrive at sensing mode, that is you don’t make the same habitual choices – you are freed to just go with your deepest intuition.” Sam KempI found it quite freeing to colour the mandala really randomly. Instead of being guided by my logical mind to colour all of one shape in the same colour, using my non dominant hand helped me let go of this idea. not having to be symmetrical was quite liberating for me.” Julie Woolrich Moon
“my 10 year old Autistic/OCD client uses mandalas to release his feelings since we used them in our work together. At a children’s party over Christmas he became overwhelmed, asked for his colouring, took himself off to a quiet room and patiently completed a mandala by himself. Afterwards he said he just needed to ‘see some of his feelings’ and now that they were outside, he was ok again.” Nina Farr
“I remember losing myself in the mandala. At first using my non dominant hand it just felt so concentrated and by the time the session ended I had completely lost the concentrated feeling of which hand I was using and only realised again when you had asked what it felt like xx” Claire Chris Linturn
“I can clearly remember the sense of feeling “liberated’ when using my non dominant hand to colour the mandala, in fact it is a method I rave about to most adults when describing a meditation practise. My brain literally unclogged and an overwhelming sense of calmness came over me. I have used this method with my own two daughters, one of whom is very logical, the other very emotional – I timed it at the end of a busy day, before bed.Our bedtime became a little later as they were both so in tune with the moment and we let it come to its own natural conclusion. My eldest mentioned she felt “inquisitive Mumma – is that a word?” and my youngest almost purred with a stillness.” Kate Duffy
“I can remember initially feeling frustrated as I was not staying in the lines and that it did not look perfect and then as I just let go and accepted that the colour may go outside the lines and that is ok, I really started to enjoy it. It went from frustration and feeling not good enough to acceptance, joy and fun.” Dhriti Mehra
- Learn how to teach kids meditation (online course)
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