Mandalas as a teaching tool

At the same time that I was preparing for my health class I was also participating in a Facebook group called “2016 New Year Mandalas”. Each member of the group (there are more than 600) was invited to post a mandala a day for 12 days beginning Jan 1st.

Since I had to come up with a mandala a day – and needed a handout for my health class – I decided to ‘kill 2 birds with one stone’ (a terrible saying) and make a “Dare to be 100′ mandala.

I had nicknamed my health class “DARE to be 100” (the phase coined by Walter M. Bortz II, M.D. from his book of the same name) and had been trying different approaches to explain the basic concepts in the book. Dr. Bortz makes 100 suggestions for healthy aging and breaks those 100 suggestions into 4 parts – D.A.R.E. – Diet, Attitude, Renewal & Exercise.

The mandala provided a visual of these 4 concepts. Some students really ‘got it’ while others thought it was confusing. This is just a ‘first draft’ and I will continue to work with the idea. One idea is to give the students a blank mandala – or partly filled-in and have them fill out their own.

The mandala itself works as a symbol of healthy living. One concept – Balance -is inherent in the mandala. The above symbol illustrates that to achieve optimal health one’s life must contain a balance of a good diet, a good attitude, regular exercise, and renewal (life-long learning). These together help you achieve the ‘target’ of a longer life (100).

The mandala is a symbol of Life. The circle is constant movement – like breath and a heartbeat it never stops. It is the earth, the moon – the stars – and the atom. It represents the entire universe and our connection to it.

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