I’ve just come back from holiday, some time to relax and renew. I was lucky to find a wonderful yoga teacher in Funchal and did a couple of classes while I was there, a mix of hatha, mantra and meditation, which I really enjoyed. I also did a lot of mandala mindfulness colouring. I’ve long been a fan of colouring as a means to relax. It’s a popular pastime these days and there’s a huge selection of books out there to suit all tastes. This popular pastime has its roots in yoga.
For my mindfulness colouring, I prefer patterns on which I can just focus to my heart’s content! (I find my mind becomes too engaged with general pictures and the perfectionist element in my mind kicks in as I worry about whether I’m using the right colours! And that goes against the whole purpose of mindfulness colouring, so I avoid these.) I took a book of mandalas with me and above is one of my early morning offerings. Whilst it may not be great art, I find this so absorbing and it enables me to switch off.
If you didn’t know, the word mandala is the Sanskrit word for circle, symbolically representing wholeness. It is therefore a model for the structure of life itself, a cosmic diagram reminding us of our relation to the infinite, the world extending both beyond and within our bodies and minds. Mandalas exist in all structures throughout the universe, including the human body (the iris of the eye is a perfect mandala), and the mandala appears in all aspects of life (the celestial circles of the earth, sun and moon, as well as conceptual circles of friends, family, community and religion). A mandala is a circular, geometric pattern or chart, symbolically representing the cosmos, and they can be used as tools for spiritual growth and in all kinds of meditation (yogic, religious and non-religious contexts) as a focus for concentration, as well as having a recreational and therapeutic benefit.
So next time you sit down to do some colouring, whilst engaging in an enjoyable pastime, the benefits go far beyond having fun. The point of mindfulness colouring – and in my case intricate mandala designs – requires mental focus and concentration, similar to the concentration you can develop during meditation. This focus and concentration naturally causes us – and it certainly works for me – to suspend our mental chatter (the aim of yoga), achieving a kind of mindfulness that leaves us feeling refreshed, calm and focused.
Enjoy your colouring if you’re already a fan and, if you’ve not yet tried it, perhaps give it a try and see for yourself the therapeutic benefits it can bring you.
Love & light
© Sarah Swan (27 June 2018)