Instead of Meditating…
Dear Nicholas, Right now (and perhaps forever) I’m coloring instead of meditating. For me, for the moment, it works better.
I’d been dutifully and impatiently, sometimes resentfully, doing the meditative mindful breathing routine every morning for a while. Then I realized I was getting a more relaxed, free-of-mental-buzz experience out of the time I spend coloring–and feeling a little silly for doing it.
I’m hoping that recognizing the meditative effects will help me stop chiding myself for what seems a juvenile “waste of time.” It’s hard not to think of it as the hobby of second-graders. I often think: I shouldn’t be doing this, I should be drawing or painting, doing “original work.”
But that feels like work to me. Takes too much effort.
And so I keep on with my coloring books, thinking “maybe I’ll do some drawing later tonight.”
I’m now resolving that the coloring is doing good things for my health, mental and physical. Here is my logic. Coloring induces a meditative altered state for me, with a drastic reduction in unwanted thoughts. This state reduces the unhealthy effects of stress. Therefore, coloring is health-improving. (This is based on the law of classic logic called modus ponens: if A then B and if A then C, there fore if A then C. This is the only learning I’ve retained from the logic course I took in order to meet the math requirement without taking calculus.) Result: I will no longer be at all embarrassed by my coloring habit.
The Color-Me-Mindful idea is not news. What’s changed is that I’m now convinced.
The coloring book industry has largely promoted the activity as relaxing, mind-clearing, anti-anxiety activity. And there’s research that bears this out. The journal of the American Art Therapy Association cites experiments in which “coloring significantly reduced anxiety and increased mindfulness.” Participants also scored higher after coloring on generating original ideas.
The Peaceful Garden
Many book titles emphasize the mindfulness slant. My own stack of completed books includes The Peaceful Garden, The Mindfulness Coloring Book, volumes one and two, Buddhist Mandalas, etc. An artist friend who was staying with us saw this stack and said, “If you’re going to do it, you should sign them.” I haven’t gotten around to that. Instead, I’m posting a few here.
Certainly a lot of people have found it appealing. The big jump in enthusiasm happened in 2015, with sales of adult coloring books rising from $1 million in 2014 to $12 million the next year. Sales have been lower since but still impressive.
A Hot Movie Star?
There are coloring book subjects I haven’t explored and many many lists of “best coloring books” of the year. One subgenre is drawings of swear words, for getting out angry frustration. Lots and lots of those in Amazon’s top 100 sellers, one especially for call center workers. There’s also a fan coloring book, advertised on Amazon as “featuring drawings of hot movie star, Ryan Gosling” and titles including Drinking Animals, Pastel Goth, People of Walmart, The Splat, Stoner, and a book devoted entirely to sloths. I’ll probably stick with gardens and mandalas.
It’s good thing, right?
#coloringbooks #colormecalm #mindfulcoloring
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Tags: altered state, anti-anxiety, coloring book industry, coloring books, coloring habit, generating original ideas, health-improving, meditating, meditative effects, meditative mindful, mindful breathing, mindfulness coloring book, original work, reduction in unwanted thoughts, swear words, time I spend coloring, works better more relaxed
rememering August 1950 first day – first grade – the “fat” crayons, box of eight – my brain / mind was so emptied at that moment in my life I carefully noted the sequence and always returned the crayons in the exact same order: red – brown – yellow – green – orange – purple – blue – black -still meditative to me (and perhaps more than a bit of Aspergers). Oh by the way spouse (age 77) on Thursday most recent in attempting to stop mid-way up a steep incline and get off her german-engineered bicycle (very heavy) tipped over to her left side, bicycle on top of her, resulting in fractured left wrist. In 77 years this is her very first broken bone. I was there.
Good thing you were there, Bob. And it sounds like you two are lively sporting pair. I love that you memorized the order of the crayons. I hope things go well with her wrist.
Love your coloring… I do much the same thing… doodling and coloring has always calmed me and helps me focus. Love all the colorful pictures. ENJOY! 🙂
Thank you, Lynn! I’ve always doodled while on the phone with clients and it makes me more attentive. I’ve wanted to do it during face-to-face meetings but it doesn’t SEEM attentive, so I’ve held back. I’m glad you like my pictures!
So beautiful!! I get performance anxiety just contemplating such an endeavor, so it just goes to show that all god/godesses’ children need their own strategeries. . .
I allow myself to make a mess and tear out the page, Amey. My performance anxiety comes up with drawing– I feel every effort has to turn out better than the last. Doesn’t have to be good, just better. And that’s hard to do. And I’m glad you like my pictures! And my Comment alerts don’t seem to be working, because I only accidentally happened onto this comment of yours.
I’ve been saying for 3-4 years that I need to buy some good colored pencils or markers and get back to coloring. It IS meditative and mesmerizing!
Bob, I hope you will realize how limiting a broken wrist is. I ( age 80) broke my right wrist at y to he end of Sept. and I am just now getting the use of it, but not fully. Cut her some slack.
I keep telling myself that coloring is a bit like arranging flowers, Judy. In that it’s choosing what color to put where. The flowers are a bit trickier though, not quite that simple. I’m glad you’re finally getting your wrist back right, Judy. Not sure what Bob comment you’re referring to. And my Comment alerts don’t seem to be working, because I only accidentally happened onto this comment of yours.
quoting Robert Braxton: by the way spouse (age 77) on Thursday most recent in attempting to stop mid-way up a steep incline and get off her german-engineered bicycle (very heavy) tipped over to her left side, bicycle on top of her, resulting in fractured left wrist. In 77 years this is her very first broken bone. I was there.
Okay, I thought she was talking about my husband Bob.
I am a world class doodler, so coloring sounds just fine to me as a brain soother. I would probably prefer abstract, multi-colored designs, but in the name of love I would lay crayons on Ryan Gosling.
And you put it so well, as always, Lee. “Lay crayons on” may well enter the Book of Idioms”.
I have anxiety about finishing what I started quickly, I loved coloring, my husband was suffering from congested heart failure, knowing his life was coming to an end, it did help, but always felt the need to get it done.
I sympathize, Lh. It’s so hard to shake such hovering needs. When I do any drawing, I feel I must make the result better than the last one. And most of the time it’s enough to keep me from doing the drawing. I wish I could shake that one.
Let the colors free!
Does that mean color outside the lines, Bob?
To be discussed!