Mindfulness through Coloring
Have you heard of adult coloring?
We have discussed mindfulness in several prior posts, including this one where I offered the following introduction to mindfulness:
"One definition of mindfulness is paying attention, on purpose, to the present moment without judgement. Another definition is, the ability to be aware of your thoughts, emotions, physical sensations, and actions in the present moment with compassion (kind attention), and without judging or criticizing yourself or your experience. Mindfulness is becoming more aware and intentionally paying attention to your internal and external experiences. Mindfulness increases awareness of self/others/present moment, increases acceptance of things as they are in the present moment (not because we want it that way, but because it “is” that way), cultivates compassion for self and others, helps with focus and concentration, and decrease stress response. It can also help cut down distractibility in order to cultivate a more focused mind."
In that same article I reviewed a number of activities where one could engaged in mindfulness and then last fall I offered the additional suggestion of mindful walking.
Today's post really continues on that theme and offers yet another specific activity where one can practice mindfulness. Really, we can bring mindfulness to any activity, but it can be helpful as we learn to engage in our lives in a mindful way to have some specific practices to help build the habit. Mindful coloring is yet one more way to practice.
Coloring utilizes areas of the brain that enhances focus and concentration and nurtures attention. Mindful coloring is a purposeful act of paying attention to what we are doing in the present moment, rather than being on autopilot. Example: notice the design you are coloring, notice color choices you are making, notice how your hand/fingers move on the page, notice how the color starts to fills the space you place it in, how your hand feels running along the page as you color, etc.
Coloring gives our mind a focus which can help us temporarily let go of or detatch from some of our stressful thoughts, or at least postpone giving these thoughts energy until the end of the coloring session (or another more appropriate time). If thoughts do come up that you need to take action with, write them down in your memory support system (MSS) planner (or other system where you write things down) so you don’t forget, and then return to your coloring. If you catch your mind wandering into another thought, aside from the task at hand, gently bring your attention back to what you are doing and describe the experience to yourself. Reconnect your mind to your immediate environment. Remind yourself that the beauty in coloring is that there is no correct way to do it, so let go of expectations. Let go of judgements as to whether or not the color is correct, whether or not it’s messy or neat, or whether or not you did a wonderful job or a terrible job. It just is what it is.
Mindfulness can help train our mind and deepen our ability to stay present, rather than going into unhelpful default networks of our mind. It is not about distracting ourselves from problems in order to avoid them or not deal with them, it’s about strengthening areas in our brain that allows for higher order brain functions. That way we can respond instead of react. Mindful coloring, and mindfulness art therapy, may lower stress and increase creativity and relaxation. Coloring is easy to do, and you can stop the activity whenever you want and resume it at a later time. There is no need to finish what you started all in one sitting.
Adult coloring options include both paper adult coloring books, and downloadable coloring applications for phones/tablets/computers. For example, paint by number/color by number application programs can be found under your phone's App Store. You can paint by touching the color with your finger and depositing it on the part of the picture you want painted. You can purchase adult coloring books online or the store (make sure you purchase something to color with such as colored pencils, fine tipped markers, crayons etc.). You can also print free coloring pages online.
Have you tried this one? We'd love to hear your experiences or other ways that you've practiced mindfulness in your life!