Eye Candy

Why adults suddenly buy pencils

I’ve always been intrigued by mandalas. They’re just gorgeous to look at. I’ve watched monks creating them out of coloured sand, a process that takes several days and left me deeply impressed. I think I can’t even fully grasp the determination, dedication, perseverance and patience that’s required (but then monks are somewhat experts at all those things).

Tibetan Monks Take Part In The Salisbury International Arts Festival

A beautiful sand mandala in the making.

It wouldn’t have crossed my mind to try something similar myself – not even with colour pencils (I won’t even talk about sand – it takes years to master this art). I mean, come on, me? I’m someone who mentally writes to-do-lists and grocery lists during “meditation”. I know. It’s awful.

But then my local corner bookstore changed my mind. They have a huge pile of colouring books, many of them with drawings of mandalas. If you’re not familiar with colouring books, they’re the most recent fad. It’s a tool for busy people who feel nervous about the term “meditation” or anything that sounds vaguely spiritual, or for people like me who struggle with meditation, and who need a “tool” to tame the mind.

These books do just that. You buy one, get yourself a box of colour pencils (this will make you feel like you’re going back to school!) and off you go. If mandalas aren’t your thing, there are colouring books featuring outlines of cityscapes, gardens, flowers, animals, iconic places, outlandish architecture, famous tapestry patterns, oh, and there’s even the (believe it or not) hipster colouring book.

Does it work?

Yes! You won’t even realise that you haven’t checked your watch for hours, that you’re hungry, that there were a million other things you wanted to do (for me, that’s typically those things I think of during “meditation”).

Colouring brings my mind to a standstill. It quietens my mental chatter. It’s wonderful. Strangely enough, it’s called “art therapy” for adults, but why should colouring books belong in the self-help section as soon as they’re not for kids?

There’s nothing more relaxing than bringing some colour onto the page – and into your life! And maybe the sky doesn’t need to be blue, and the sun yellow, and the grass green.

Maybe just here, on the page, we can allow ourselves to create a world that’s a little bit different, a little bit crazy, that’s totally unique – our creation.

Have you tried colouring books? Did you like the experience?

~ Andrea

Image creditcredit / credit.

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16 replies »

  1. Learning to dissolve the illusions that cloud our minds is the greatest lesson and activity anyone can do. The present moment is pure bliss and content. Coloring, yoga or qi gong all are great ways to get back to the present were we belong.

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  2. Been using mandalas and yantras on our yoga inspired holidays in Spain for past 11 years! Love the calming influence they have on all minds. Great feedback after retuning from our breaks to the stresses and strains of everyday life how they help. 🙏🏽

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    • Oh wow, 11 years! I’m really late to the game 🙂
      My next goal is to draw mandalas myself which probably forces my monkey mind even more to focus on the task at hand.
      Thank you for your comment!

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  3. A friend of mine is totally into them, and after colouring them in, she cuts the picture up to make cards. Me, I loved colouring when I was young, but now I look at the books on the shelves and just cannot find any enthusiasm to try. Maybe I should, it would be good for winding down.

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  4. I am all over this! I have always loved coloring and find myself doing so quite often. I still do what I did as a kid. I start by scribbling all over a page and then I color inside the lines. (If that makes any sense 🙂 ) It helps me relax. I intend to purchase myself a coloring book once the crowds die down from the holidays.

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    • I did exactly that at school – scribbling and then colour inside the lines. I don’t know why, but I stopped at one point (probably when I felt I was “grown up”!). It’s high time to start scribbling again 🙂

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  5. I have tried the coloring books on iPhone apps, which is more similar to the mandalas than the coloring books in that I deleted the apps due to my lack of patience! Mandalas are special in that they serve to remind us of impermanence after hours of labor. During a very stressful time in my life one year, one of my friends suggested I color and draw. It was actually very enjoyable and I was able to put my mind entirely in The Flow. However, unlike the monks, I didn’t want to let go of the images I drew even when I gave them away as gifts. I took photos of them! You can say that I need to practice letting go just as the monks do! Anyhow, I’ve decided to try a new Flow in addition to the daily yoga and meditation: cooking! I’m excited to learn to cook different dishes! It is very important to keep present when cooking. I once rented a condo by a pool and was looking out the window at certain men that had been working out sitting in the pool and then I almost set the condo on fire! It was quite embarrassing! That’s a story I will never tell my parents! Haha!

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    • You’re right, I forgot the aspect of letting go. I intend to throw away the book once I’ve finished but I have the feeling attachment might come in the way! Well, it’s a practice… 🙂

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