Color Me Calm

I’ve never considered myself artistic and only recently have embraced that perhaps there may be a bit of a creativity lurking inside. So when I recently heard about the popular trend in adult coloring and specifically mandala color books as both a creative outlet and a calming tool, I jumped on the bandwagon. While I initially read about this popular trend in The New Yorker, I was really inspired by my niece who I consider both creative and artistic and has taken up coloring mandalas as a summer activity. So off to Amazon Prime I went and ordered my Mandala Coloring Book along with a set of gel pens which are not required, but I have a thing for a good felt tip pen.

There are many benefits to this trend that people are discovering as they tap into their childlike creative curiosity. According to a recent article in the Huffington Post,

“The activity not only provides a low-stress, low-stakes way to unlock your creative potential, it also unlocks memories of simpler, childhood times, when the biggest cause of anxiety was how to avoid your next nap. “I recommend it as a relaxation technique,” psychologist Antoni Martínez explained to the Huffington Post. “We can use it to enter into a more creative, freer state. I recommend it in a quiet environment, even with chill music. Let the color and the lines flow.”

I found it as a great creative outlet and effective mindfulness tool. Here are my initial musings.

1. Playing with color – Clearly I’m a lover of color. So for me, it was really fun to play around with different color combinations. Because I consider myself a visual person and have some awareness around the role color can play in our lives  (more on that later), I was able to use the act of picking out colors as a tool to become aware of how I was currently feeling physically and emotionally.

2. Zone out – There is no question, coloring invites a deep focus  and practice of single tasking that feels enjoyable and filled with ease. The mandalas are especially helpful in staying focused on a specific segment. Like in any meditation, I would find myself wandering to the larger image to see how it would all fit together. So it was an excellent practice to keep focusing on the segment at hand without trying to jump ahead.

3. Staying in the lines – I consider myself a recovering perfectionist so staying in the lines while coloring invites all sorts of internal critiques and judegments. I’ve realized that I can be my own worst critic. But as I learn to offer myself more kindness, I find myself letting go these expectations (both internal and external). As a result feel much more lighthearted in my everyday. Like any meditation, it is a daily practice and I have found that coloring is an excellent tool to enforcing this awareness. Having the intention to stay in the lines is so helpful, but sometimes, we simply need to draw outside, whether by intention or accident. Either way, an unexpected beauty likely emerges.

4. Check check – There is simply a wonderful satisfaction that comes from completing something from start to finish in one sitting. Granted you don’t necessarily have to finish a drawing all at once, but as someone who has many big projects on the horizon with not that many bookends in my daily life, I appreciate the task of starting and completing something. All together, I would say that one mandala can take anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour.

There are adult coloring books for all different preferences from cats to birds to gardens to Ryan Gosling. You can find some of the top selling coloring books on Amazon here.

All in all, I find this a grounding, creative and relaxing mindfulness tool. But by far the biggest benefit I appreciate is the coloring time that I now get to share with my niece.

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