I had a rare opportunity yesterday to watch someone create extraordinary art and provide healing at the same time. I was only 2 miles from home, and for 30 minutes I watched in silence as two monks delicately filtered colored sand particles into an elaborate and complex mandala pattern. It was gorgeous, mindful and like nothing I have ever seen.
Until yesterday morning, I had never heard of Sand Mandalas or the Namgyal Monastery in Ithaca, New York, but thanks to Wicked Local, I found out about them just in time. At Wellesley College’s Davis Museum, over the course of three weeks, two Tibetan monks from the Namgyal Monastery have been creating a mandala made entirely of colored sand that has healing powers for those suffering from mental or physical afflictions. The belief is that just by seeing this mandala the healing can occur because of the deep subconscious visual impression that it leaves. And I must say, I felt the energy.
I watched in silence (with camera in hand) as they delicately tapped sand in a fine stream onto a large table covered in the most intricate and colorful design I have ever witnessed. Spectators watched in fascination as the monks quietly selected the perfect color and proceeded to tap/vibrate two metal ‘siphons’ together so a focused stream of sand fell to exactly the right place on the design matrix. While one monk tapped, the other “carved” through the design with a pencil, pushing sand in one way or the other to further hone the pattern. I witnessed a peaceful concentration and laser focus like I have not witnessed before.
As for the mandala’s healing powers, as if the mesmerizing design wasn’t enough for me, the silence and penetrating “sssszzzsssszzzzs” sound of the metal siphons rubbing together made me feel about as zen as I’ve felt in months. I highly recommend a visit to the Davis Museum in the next 2 days while they finalize the mandala. On Wednesday, October 11th, they will symbolically complete the process by depositing the sand into Lake Waban. ⌛️