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Living With Harmony

27 Wrights Way, South Wonston, Winchester, UK


Meditation / Mindfulness

The concept of mindfulness is not new. The idea that being quiet in your mind helps well-being has been part of many traditions, notably Buddhism.

Mindfulness is currently popular and is associated with many benefits for mental health. 'Music and Mandalas' is an accessible mindfulness practice.

The Practice

Music is understood by the brain as meaningful. Music which is familiar will bring memories and associations. This is a clear benefit when using music with people suffering from a dementia for example. However, unfamiliar music without lyrics can be calming as background music. It reduces thoughts in the mind. Releasing thoughts and thinking is central to meditation.

The mandala is an archetypal form based around a circle. The symmetry of a mandala creates a sense of order for the mind. The task of colouring a mandala focuses the mind on the act of engagement with the archetype. This again encourages the letting go of thoughts. Colouring a mandala has already been shown to bring improvements in well-being in the more general population.

Combining listening to new music with the opportunity to colour a mandala is the the essence of this practise. Colouring a mandala with background music which intends to create a musical cradle of sound, gently holding the meditative mood, is a simple and possible path to the health benefits of mindfulness for everyone.

Moods transmit from one person to another. One person giggles, others giggle and likewise panic can easily spread among groups. Therefore the tranquillity associated with mindfulness can also be shared if the practise is done in a group.

With the understanding that moods transmit between people in a group setting, those who are able and willing to colour a mandala are encouraged to do so, while others who are only able to sit in the session are able to so as well. This allows the maximum number of people the possibility of entering a quieter, more tranquil meditative space.

The outcomes

The aim was to create the meditative mood. It was important that the mandala was meaningful and appealing to the person colouring it. Only authentic engagement with the practice would create a powerful mood of mindfulness which could then be share round the room. Making the practice genuinely useful for supporting staff as well as the vulnerable adults was key to the success of the session.

In a before and after self report evaluation 22 people filled in mood scales. Analysis of the results showed a 27℅ improvement in mood. This result is significant and highly likely to be due to the music and mandalas practice.

The less formal feedback from the participants was also positive. Reports included that it was like a yoga session and that feeling of calmness and letting go of worries while focusing on the colouring was experienced. As practitioners facilitating the session, the calm mood was palpable.

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