How many of you out there have had this exact conversation with some well-meaning person.
“I’m so stressed!”
“You should meditate.”
“Meditating stresses me out!”
However, what if I was to tell you that anything that you get mentally lost and engrossed in has the same meditative benefits? Just think of the world of possible alternative meditative activities you could choose. With that in mind, let’s take some time to examine the Benefits of using coloring as meditation.
What is the connection between mindfulness and meditation?
To be mindful means to inhabit a mental state where the focus of your mind is fully connected to the present moment. People train for years, attending retreats, going to workshops and classes. Endlessly sitting on little round cushions.
All with the hope of stilling the proverbial monkey mind that forever insists on jumping from the past to the future, and from the future to the past. All while spending only a fleeting glimpse of time actually connected to the moment at hand.
However, many of us are not even aware that a countless number of our everyday activities induce a meditative state without us even trying. Some people get lost in cleaning their homes. For others, time fly’s by when they hike. For many, an entire afternoon can pass without nary a thought while gardening.
Whether you are knitting, painting, building, or training a physical skill such as qigong, martial arts, or yoga, creative endeavors easily connect our minds to the moment. When we are connected to the moment, stresses of the past fade away, and anxieties of future events vanish like mist.
Most children know the joy of the simple activity of coloring in a coloring book. It’s an often-used “go-to” parental time-off period. Sit the kids at the table with a pale full of crayons and a booklet of outlined drawings and suddenly and magically….. it's QUIET!
So why don’t we “color” as adults? Well, it just so happens that people are starting to wake up to the fact that what was good for the kids, might just be good for the adults as well.
What are the Benefits of Using Colouring as Meditation?
The simple act of coloring in a pre-outlined picture stimulates the mind and body in a multitude of ways.
1# Colouring stimulates both the right and left hemispheres of the brain
The creative aspect of coloring a picture stimulates both sides of the brain. The beauty of seeing the combinations of colors come to life as you add them to the page engages both the creative and analytical centers.
Because there is no “right” color to use in a particular space, the creative right side of the mind is free to use whatever it chooses without fear or self-criticism. While the left brain is engaged by the cognitive decision-making of choosing what color to use and where, as well as engaging the motor ability to use the coloring pencil.
Pick a color, pick an outlined space, fill it with color, and enjoy the beauty created, both on the page and in the stillness of your mind. It's really that simple.
2# Colouring Lowers Stress
As we become lost in our coloring creation, our autonomic nervous system disengages our sympathetic fight or flight stress response and reengages our parasympathetic rest, digest, and heal mode. The best part is, it really only takes a few moments to get engrossed in the simple act of coloring a picture.
Every moment we connect to colors being added to the page in some specific way is one more moment that stress is not damaging our bodies and making us sick. Yes, coloring can actually be healing.
Our minds work either for our health or against it. You see the fact is, our bodies don’t know the difference between real or imagined stress. But what it does know, is that the nervous system can only handle stress for short periods of time before internal systems start to be negatively affected. When that happens, the body creates a toxic cellular environment that leads to illness.
3# Colouring is a Great Creative Outlet
For the average adult, having a creative outlet they could engage in, never mind one that serves as a meditative practice, might seem like a fairy tale. But that is the magic of coloring. The transformation from an over-thinking adult to a creative inner child happens faster than you think.
There is a ton of adult coloring books out on the market (and I don’t mean coloring boobs guys lol– grow up!) Which you can find online or at art supply stores, bookstores, and many big-box retailers. They are quite inexpensive and for just a few bucks, you can be on your way to a quieter and healthier mind.
All you need to do is find a book full of outlined pictures that speak to you in some way. Grab a box of crayons or pencil crayons. Find a table to sit down at and regain your mental peace and quiet once again.
4# Colouring is much easier the Seated Meditation
There are many different beneficial attributes derived from regular meditation practice. Some emotional, some mental, some physical. But like so many other learned skills, it is in regular practice that the benefits are noticed and gained.
When it comes to seated meditation, the notion of seemingly not doing anything is the hardest hurdle to overcome. The immense effort exerted to just quietly sit still can be a daunting task for many to entertain. It is also, why many people give up their meditative journey before they ever really get anywhere.
A crutch of some sort is often helpful to progress on your meditative path. Counting your breath, your heartbeat, your fingers, even sheep for God’s sake! Anything to serve as a focal point for your mind is helpful.
But what is lacking for people trying a seated meditation practice is a sense of “fun”, and that is where the benefit of using coloring as meditation comes in.
5# - A Sense of Accomplishment
I am a big promoter of celebrating the small accomplishments. In life, we are often quick to overemphasize our failures and belittle our successes. Why is that???? I tackled the answer to the eternal question of why we are never satisfied with what we have, in the article on “How to cope with Expectations”. Therefore, for now, I will simply say that success is built on feelings of success, no matter the size.
So engaging in simple mechanical tasks that have a clear completion or “end”, such as colouring in a picture, has a way of imbuing us with a wonderful sense of accomplishment seldom felt in everyday life.
6# - Feeling like a kid again
Last and maybe most importantly is the ability for coloring to transport us back to childhood. Whether it’s the one we had or the one we always wanted. Getting lost in our own inner child can be one of the most energizing and healing activities imaginable.
Tell me it wouldn’t make you smile to see an adult skipping through the park? Building a sandcastle on the beach. Chasing butterflies in a field. Rolling down a hill. Making a snowman. Why should these activities be restricted to preteen life?
In that same vein, one of the most amazing benefits of using coloring as meditation might just be rediscovering the “you” you were before life molded you into something else…. Give it a try!
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