Mandalas – Batteries for the Brain

The word mandala means “circle” in Sanskrit and is the name given to geometric patterns that Buddhists have used in the practice of meditation for centuries.

Making a mandala from natural materials is an activity that enables the brain to restore its batteries.  Focusing on an activity such as this requires little attention. At least, it doesn’t require the same fixed attention as, say, making sure appointments are met or needing to remember what medication is taken and when. It helps our minds and our bodies to relax and allows time for the brain to re-charge its batteries ready for when it needs to focus on more demanding tasks.

Think of making a mandala as a bit like doing a jigsaw puzzle.  You can make them in one go or take time over several days, adding to it now and again. Useful if you feel you don’t have time to do one in one day; you can stretch it out and enjoy the activity over several days. Either way, the time spent in is relaxing and fun and can be done by an individual, as part of a one-to-one or group session or as a family activity. How large it becomes is entirely up to you. Here are some examples of mandalas made by carers:

If you would like to create your own mandala, just look around your garden or whilst out on a local walk for berries, leaves, twigs, grasses etc that you can use to create circular patterns as in the images above. Here’s a short speedy film to demonstrate how we make them in our sessions…although perhaps not quite as quick as this!

Wendy Brewin, Creative Spaces Project Manager

Sensory Trust

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Q&A with Sydenham Garden; dementia, nature & outdoors

Outdoor activities at Sydenham GardenThis month we chat to Rose Pickering – dementia project lead at Sydenham Garden. Rose works to improve the quality of life for people living with dementia by incorporating nature and the outdoors.

Can you give a brief outline of what you do at Sydenham Garden and the type of people you work with?

Sydenham Garden is a unique wellbeing centre utilising its gardens, nature reserve and activity rooms to help people in their recovery from mental and physical ill-health in Lewisham, London. Continue reading

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Using your garden throughout the seasons

collecting flowers at Potager garden

As autumn approaches it can often feel like the garden is winding down for the winter. While there are many clearing and pruning jobs to be done it is also important to remember that the garden and in fact any outdoor green space can be an important indicator that the seasons are changing.  Gardens provide us with a wealth of sensory experience, and when caring for people with dementia, gardens can be used Continue reading

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Rainy day activities – Guest blog

Using a nature spotting postcard

Our Clays dementia friendly walking group has been up and running for almost 12 months;  they’ve done over 50 walks and have become close friends that share laughter, fun and support each other through tough times.  We’ve been lucky with the weather over the past year; only having to cancel 3 walks – much to the dismay of the group.  So with winter being so wet and damp it was time to develop a Plan B, we’ve arranged walks in locations where Continue reading

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Animation project

animation filmingA few months ago we started a mini animation club for people with dementia and their carers.  We decided to use the regular walking group as inspiration and then just let things run to see what happened. We enlisted the help of Karen Hayes a librettist (she takes words and puts them into poetry, operas and much more) and she chatted and listened to members of the group as they explored some local clay landscapes as part of their weekly walks. Continue reading

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Guest Blog – why walking works

walkers at bodmin beacon

This week we’re pleased to invite guest blogger TK to write about his time spent with our dementia friendly walking group.  We always enjoy welcoming members of the community along to our walks as this project is about people with dementia and their carers making new social connections and in turn showing their community that there is more to dementia than a diagnosis. Continue reading

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Nature stimulates cognitive ability

Participants learn about using outdoor activities for MCST sessions

 

Its true, nature can stimulate cognitive functions, and we’re spreading the word.

Last month we led a training session for 8 MCST (that’s Maintaining Cognitive Stimulation Therapy) facilitators from Age UK Cornwall.  CST, or ‘Cognitive Stimulation Therapy’, is a pyschosocial treatment for people with mild to moderate dementia Continue reading

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October’s Nature Palette Challenge

A selection of autumn nature palettes

Nature Palette’s are a great way to observe the changing of the seasons, they invite the user to hone in on their natural environment, touch, smell, collect and create.  By getting up close to nature you often notice things you might have overlooked before, the different hues of green on an acorn, the texture of a pine cone, the smell of grass.   Continue reading

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