I'm pretty sure that all of my posts on this blog are completely out of order chronologically, but oh well! A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to visit the Philadelphia Folklore Project with a class to see Tibetan artist & monk, Losang Samten, create a mandala. A mandala is a form of sand painting where every color and design is intentional and represents something to the artist.
In the following two images, they placed a bright light at the left side to show the depth of the sand:
As you can see in the pictures below, Losang holds two metal "sticks" - one filled with sand, and one to create vibrations on the other. He carefully distributes the different colors with these tools. We gave it a try, and it's incredibly difficult. It takes Losang about a week to create this size of a mandala, and at the end of the week he destroys and demantles it to symbolize the fleeting aspects of life.
While Losang is creating the mandala, he's constantly praying with God. He said that not everybody has the stillness of mind to just sit and meditate, so this is a beautiful way of being in communication with God through action. Even though the two of us come from different religions, that sentiment was something I appreciated a lot - I don't think I have ever successfully gotten through a prayer in my mind without thinking about something unrelated or falling asleep. Instead, I have to journal as a means of collecting all of my thoughts into coherent sentences, and that's how I pray.