Seeing the Chapter House roof of York Minster and the effect it had on me reminded me of the process and visual power of the Mandala (Sanskrit for ‘Circle’).
For me, with Sand Mandalas this visual power is apparent through two ways.
First, there is the ritual creation (and destruction) of the shapes and patterns with significant meanings within the image. It is almost as a performance piece,
( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9piFA7MCmbQ and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Al4zxj7WNsY ) using simple apparatus – chalked string and chakpus (metal funnels used to gently knock the sand out). And there is also the actual aesthetic attributes of such an image, which may come from the use of radial symmetry or of universally used imagery and shapes such as the circle and square etc.
T. Anderson (2002) shares a very powerful group story around the use of the mandala within teaching Instrumentalist art and how to get a message across to an audience. From this article I got a real sense of a transformative experience for the group and the teacher.
Within a learning environment, it made me contemplate the idea of a group as a community. And that the process of forming a collective through the art can be achieved through that journey itself – a cyclical process of a group creating art that creates a group.
I think that within arts and well-being this is something that I could explore more with a group. I think I would have to feel confident and knowledgeable enough around the process so as to do it justice and with culture sensitivity. This would require much more research and experimentation myself before I considered offering this to a group.