11. Miscellaneous Responses to the Mandala

Contributor: Ellen E. Swanson
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There have been a variety of responses from those who have become acquainted with the mandala. These responses included some skeptical comments like “It will never fly” and “This is very much needed but too cutting edge for you to see it adopted in your lifetime”. There were also responses with new ideas and insightful interpretations which led to improved explanations, expanded perceptions, and different applications. These latter responses illustrate the holistic nursing theory concept of expanded consciousness.

Let’s start with a retired business professor who was attending a workshop featuring the individual application. As we summarized at the end of the workshop, where posters of the mandala as well as the traditional linear organizational chart were on display, she wondered out loud how it would be to use that same traditional chart, but instead of the boxes, put in mandalas. This next image reflects that idea.

Linear Mandala Organizational Chart

A previous exemplar, “Healing the Hierarchy”, ended with ideas for merging the traditional linear hierarchical paradigm with the circular paradigm. The first image provided was one of an arched linear organizational chart. The explanation talked about the strength of stone arch bridges which last centuries, in comparison to linear bridges like the bridge that collapsed in Minneapolis on Interstate Highway 35W. What would that arched version look like with mandalas instead of boxes?

Arched Linear Mandala Organizational Chart

How do these affect you differently than the traditional organizational chart? Practice your felt sense on these. Is this another way of merging the two paradigms?

In another previous Exemplar, “Dual Organizational Application”, the interfaith community made their mandala into a poster for the wall of the meeting room. The community wanted to attract new members, and hoped for some youthful additions to the group. As I got to know some of the younger people who joined the group, I was told that the reason they came back was because of the mandala poster on the wall. In this situation, it was used to orient and inform newcomers about the community.

In another situation, while visiting with a local colleague, I was explaining this Holistic Nursing Mandala.

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I shared with her my vision of having this mandala digitized. If you clicked on the theorist, up would pop her biography. If you clicked on her theory, up would pop her website or the written theory. If you clicked on the body/mind/spirit segments, up would pop information about AHNA. If you clicked on the holistic concepts in each of the Feng Shui Ba-Gua life aspects, up would pop the definition of the holistic concepts and which theorists referred to them. My colleague exclaimed. “Ellen! If you did that you would have an entire semester’s course content for holistic nursing theory on that one page!”

In a different situation, I found that just thinking of the mandala helped with a family sitting together while their loved one was actively dying. They all wanted to reminisce about her life. At one point I asked the group what energized their loved one, what her passions were. After all shared and we acknowledged that different family members had different experiences with her, we then talked about what each learned from her.

Next we talked about her body, mind, and spirit. Then we talked about what was important to her in each Feng Shui Ba-Gua life aspect. This sharing brought a new level of intimacy to the family. They each saw more fully how they could carry her with them into the future.

I also used the mandala to explore a question to myself. My question was, “Why is this whole hierarchy topic so important to me?” I divided my life up into seven equal age segments for the rainbow ring spots. In those spots, I added the name(s) of people who embodied the hierarchy to me during that age segment. In ring 2, I noted what I learned from each of them about the hierarchy, pleasant or unpleasant.

In ring 3, I noted what I grew from, then to, in the body, mind, and spirit areas. This was based on what I had uncovered from age one through the present in the first two rings. In ring 4 and the center, I did the same thing for each life aspect: what I grew from, then what I grew to.

I sat back and studied the completed model, from the beginning to the present. I gasped. It was clear all those experiences with the hierarchy had a purpose. Each expanded on the last one until I arrived at this current project of finding a way to create a visual for a nonhierarchical way of organizing information. I turned a corner and discovered gratitude for all those unpleasant experiences that got me to this rewarding period of my life, instead of regretting them or seeing them as mistakes or injustices.

Has your consciousness expanded? If so, how?

Holistic nursing concepts source:

Frisch, N. (2013).  Nursing theory in holistic nursing practice.  In B. Dossey & L. Keegan (Eds.) Holistic nursing a handbook for practice, 6th Ed.  (pp. 117-128).  Burlington, MA:  Jones and Bartlett Learning.