Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Jenna's mandala & essay

The first assignment all of the kids had in freshman english was to make a "mandala" (a geometric figure representing the universe in Hindu and Buddhist symbolism) about themselves and write an essay about it.  Jared's mandala was pretty sparse, but Jenna and Rachel both made beautiful mandalas and wrote beautifully revealing essays.  I wanted to make sure that these weren't lost forever so I'm putting them here.

My Mandala
Just a Chapter in my Story

Mandalas originated in India, first appearing in buddhism and Hinduism. It is a circular art form, often used in religions for spiritual or ethnic purposes. Personal mandalas can be used for many things, some common ones being meditation and reflection. They can also be used as a way of personal expression or story-telling. My mandala is not the whole introduction of who I am, nor is it the whole story of myself. My mandala is a representation of some of the aspects of my life and parts of myself, which I’ve split into my Family, my Religion, My Negative Part of Me, The Musical Part of My Life, and my Interests.
The center of my mandala, known as the “bindu”, represents my family. My Family has always been very important to me, and I love them, so that is why there is a red heart. The heart is also wrapped in a wave, because my family loves the beach, and we go there every year. Above the wave there are three peas in a pod, which represents me being a triplet.  Below that there is an eight which can also be interpreted as an infinity sign. It is an eight simply because there are eight members in my immediate family. It is also an infinity sign because in my religion we believe that families can be together forever, and since I love my family, this is a very important thing to me. All of these things also have yellow in them because they are happy things, and then most of the background in the section is yellow because it represents joy. One thing that has been a big struggle for my family is Cystic Fibrosis. My oldest sister was born with CF and it has made a lot of things very hard. Because this thing is a really sad aspect of my family, the background color changes to blue behind the symbol that represents CF, which is the purple Cystic Fibrosis ribbon.
Instead of making a solid border, I made my family section merge into the section below it which is my religion. I did this because the importance of families is very emphasized in my religion. Some other things in the section are some symbols of my religion (which is LDS). One of the symbols is the tree of life, which represents the love of God. Another thing is the empty tomb, which represents Jesus’s resurrection, and the sacrifice he made for us. Another thing is the LDS temple, which we believe is a very holy place, and a house of God. Above this there is a yellow sun because my religion is a happy thing. Lastly I left the background white to represent peace, because my religion can often help me to find peace when I’m having a hard time.
At the top is the negative parts of my mind. I’ve always felt like my mind is sometimes just a mess. This section might seem like a mess, but perhaps that’s just one more way it represents what’s going on inside my head. The background for the picture is black because this is a dark and hard part for me. In this section there are two pictures of me. The first represents all my red and hot emotions that come from problems I have. The red in my head is for rage and panic. The yellow in my shirt for the feelings of insecurity and being afraid. My shoes are red, with a lightning bolt because when I get these feelings I feel like I need or want to get away. There is then a thought bubble that represents my mind. The first symbol in the bubble is an ear with red lines representing sound going to it. This picture represents misophonia, which is a disorder that  makes me feel rage or anxiety whenever I hear a trigger noise.  This has always been a big struggle for me, so it is a symbol that takes up a lot of room in the bubble, and is also my main inspiration for making the first figure of me covering their ears. The Warning sign, as well as all the other exclamation marks throughout the section represent my anxiety.  The second picture of me symbolizes the more blue and cold emotions, like sadness or hopelessness. Everything on the figure is blue to illustrate that, and there is a chain and ball around the feet of the figure to show that with those emotions I feel more like not wanting to move or go on. Next, the picture of people represents the problems I have with people, and communicating with them. I am a shy person, and an introvert and I feel I have a really hard time connecting with people, and I often feel like because of my poor communication skills I often get misinterpreted by people. I also feel like I maybe am terrible at communicating and connecting with people because sometimes it takes me a while to process things, or to think of something else to say, which is what the loading sign in the bubble stands for. Lastly in the bubble the swirls of fog, and the question marks represent my overall confusion I have for who I am and how I should feel about things. I feel like I’m always trying to figure out where I am and where I stand. They also represent the confusion I feel in myself because I have a hard time sometimes figuring out what to say and how to interpret my feelings into words.
The part to the left of the picture represents the musical part of my life. It is connected to the negativity part with a pair of earbuds leading from my ears to an ipod in the section. This is because music is often a thing that can help me to cope. There is a brick wall mostly separating the two sections, which is there because I often use listening to music to block out things. The music notes coming from the ipod transition from red angry colors to calmer colors like green and blue, to represent how music helps me. Beside the music notes there is a ukulele, which is yellow because playing the ukulele makes me happy, and also because the one I have is yellow. Beside that is a guitar, a piano keyboard, and a flute because these are all instruments that I play. The background for this section is pinkish red because music is something that I love.
The last section is on the right of my mandala and it is my interests. This part is also connected to the negativity part through a paintbrush held in the hand of the second picture of me, illustrating that things like this can also help make me to feel better. The paintbrush itself represents art, and the heart with the painting coming from it represents multiple things.Vincent Van Gogh is one of my favorite artists, which is why I chose his painting to go in the heart. The painting represents my love for art and for Van Gogh. I also chose Starry Night out of many of his other paintings because the night sky is something I’ve always found enchanting. Next in the picture there is a cat, which illustrates not only my love for cats, but my love for animals in general. When I was little I was really obsessed with “fashion” and was always playing around with it. Now I’m not so crazy about it, but I’m still interested in style which is what the little clothes in the section represents. I also really love drawing and writing which is what the pieces of paper with the words and the drawings illustrate. Finally, The rifle, sabre, and the flag that is my border is there because I do color guard. The background for the section is orange because it’s a color that could represent enthusiasm, and these are things that I’m enthusiastic about.

My mandala symbolises many things about my life. There was also some symbolism in the way my mandala was organized. The Family and Religion section were merged together not  only because of the influence that family has in my religion, but also because I felt that both of these things could be in the center of my mandala. The Music section went beside religion because music is an important part of religion, and as I already mentioned, it is beside the negative section because it is something that helps me with that. The interests section was next to the negative section for reasons already written, and it was beside the religion section to show that I can have both my religion and my interests side-by-side, and still have everything work out, because often it seems people believe that there are a lot of restrictions on all the “fun” I can have when I’m religious. Ultimately the Religion section and Negative section were opposites in the sense that they were on opposing sides, but also because the background colors, black and white, were opposites. I did that to kind of represent how my mental illnesses are separate from my religion, and how I believe that these negativities in my mind are worldly things and trials I will not have when my life on earth is over, while religion is what I will have after this earth. Lastly, my mandala does not represent all of me, but does illustrate some aspects that make up who I am. For example, I do talk a lot about my religion in this, but I am a lot of things other than religious. Overall I think that making a mandala is a great thing to do because it helps to be creative and to be self expressive.

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