Mandala with Jennifer Brandt - Rancho La Puerta
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Mandala with Jennifer Brandt

Mandala is the Sanskrit word for circle. These beautiful geometric designs are commonly created out of colored sand with elaborate shapes and temporary. They are a meditative exercise to transform the mind into a place of calm. They represent the moment and life’s impermanence—an excellent tool for today’s world.

A small group of us are sitting in the warm shade outside the Art Studio. We’re here for Artist in Residence Jennifer Brandt’s Mandala class.

“The traditional focus for meditation is the breath,” she tells us. “Drawing a mandala is a great alternative. When that restless, chattering part of the mind is active, I pick up a pen and create a mandala. I can feel the temperature of my mind cooling considerably. The idea is a single-pointed focus. Here we focus on the tip of the pen. It keeps you focused right here, right now, and nowhere else.”

“I keep a little sketch pad and pen with me. It’s life-changing,” she says. “You can change your relationship to travel delays or a meeting that starts late. Once you get into the habit, it can become a way to find stillness and a deepening and softening. You’ll feel it as you shift your relationship to the moment. It’s a slowing and step-by-step stilling of the mind and spirit. The endless thinking, the monkey mind it’s called, slowly vanishes.”

“All Mandalas start with a dot in the center, a Bindu, in Sanskrit.” She tells us as she hands out pens and paper. “It’s like a visual representation of “you are here.” All consciousness and reality precede from that still point of consciousness, of the observer.”

After we make the first dot in the middle of the paper, she guides us to begin making a shape from the dot to the top of our page then reconnecting it with the dot. We rotate the page and repeat this around the dot until it’s enclosed. From there, we add another layer of shapes. After several rounds, I finish my first mandala, grab a fresh paper, and begin another.

Jennifer shows us a postcard she created and explains, “A 35¢ stamp will make you so incredibly popular with your friends and loved ones. Write their name on the back of your mandala and slap that stamp on. Instead of people looking into their empty mail slot, you’ll fill it with thoughtfulness. Such a simple act can make a big difference for people to know you thought of them.”

See more Mindfulness offerings at The Ranch.