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May 11, 2015

Color Me Calm.

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Today a friend gave me a present: a coloring book for adults.

It calls itself The Mindfulness Colouring Book. “Anti-stress art therapy for busy people“, says the cover. Sounds magical. I was intrigued.

So tonight I ventured into the blackness of my attic. Amongst other time-worn treasures, I hunted by torchlight for an extra special tin. And I found it—dust covered and shabby—but safely enclosing my collection of school-day coloring pencils. The feel of it in my hands brought back comforting memories.

Then I arranged myself (and my collection of prized pencils) at the dining room table and I opened up the little coloring book I’d been gifted. I began to leaf through the exquisite templates. Pages of beautiful nature-inspired line drawings unfolded in front of me. And I found myself drawn to a busy design, about a third of the way through.

This line drawing is made up 43 overlapping flowers, each one a slightly different size and shape. With the indigo blue pencil perched between my forefinger and thumb, I began shading the innermost petals of a bloom.

As my hand worked its way across the page, and through my tin of pencils—bringing the book’s images to life with a rainbow of color—I felt my mind lighten. Thoughts about my day at work, impending removals as we prepare to move home from home and the tidying I need to do before our guests arrive this weekend all paled into insignificance.

Within ten minutes I was engrossed in choosing the next color, and deciding how to fade one shade of green into the next.

Soon after that my hand began to ache and I called it a day. It’s been a long time since I’ve held a pen or pencil longer than it takes to write a birthday card or a shopping list. Note to self: Keep practicing so you can play for longer. Which I will. I’m going to try to do a little bit of mindful coloring every day.

I thought my friend had introduced me to something new when she gave me a coloring book designed for adults. But having looked it up, I see it’s already quite a craze. And what about the mindfulness aspect of coloring? I’ll be the first to admit, I have a lot to learn still when it comes to the almighty M-word. But did I find coloring helped me focus my mind and think clearly? Yes. Did it keep me engaged in the present moment? Yes. Did it help me manage distractions? Make conscious choices? Be alone with myself? Yes, yes and yes.  So from a novice perspective, it sounds like a valuable mindfulness exercise to me.

So if you’ve been noticing your head getting a bit full lately or if you’ve been craving an opportunity to reconnect with your inner child—I’d recommend taking some time out to Color Yourself Calm. You don’t even have to buy a book. You can download a coloring template from the web. Or, even better, create and color a doodle of your very own.

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Author: Jane Prady

Editor: Alli Sarazen

Photo: Duncan Blackwood/Flickr

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Jane Prady