Categorized | Stress

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Mandala Coloring – Relaxation For All Ages

Coloring is an activity long thought of as the child’s domain. It’s pretty easy to see how coloring is beneficial to children. They can learn about shapes and colors, and experiment with different artistic mediums. Moms and restaurant owners have known for ages that a few crayon and paper or placemat to color on can still the restless child. Pre-school and elementary teachers know that coloring is a great interactive activity because it encourages concentration and focus while allowing the child to be creative and expressive.

Adults can also find coloring helpful for relaxation, and it may even serve as an alternative to formal meditation. Coloring is a way to quiet the mind, listen inwardly and open up to higher knowledge, healing, and creativity. People of all ages have used this sort of activity instinctively, such as knitting or doodling. When a structured by creative activity occupies our hands and eyes but not of our concentration, it leaves an opening for the creative suspension of the inner mental chatter. During these times we are freed from habitual urges, as well as mental and emotional discord. Science and medicine have also discerned that this state optimizes the self-regenerative powers of our bodies.

Few activities can involve as many different people as coloring. Everyone is equal at the coloring table, and sharing can be the natural result. Coloring is simple and fun, a great way for adults and children to bond in a mutually satisfying activity. A wide variety of skill levels can be accommodated by the plethora of coloring books available on the market.

Why color mandalas? Cross culturally and throughout history the mandala (the Sanskrit word for “circle”) has been present. Mandalas are symmetrical geometric designs, usually enclosed within a circle, a square, or a rectangle. They are used in religious ceremonies as symbols of unity and the universe, and as focal points for meditation.

Although various forms and functions of mandalas differ, they have many qualities in common: a central point, a geometric design, symmetry, purpose, and movement toward and away from a center. As Carl Jung discovered in his journaling and dream work, they evoke the pleasure that comes from working with universal patterns of line and form. When colored for healing purposes, they can alleviate tension and boredom while enhancing serenity and mental activity. When colored for purposes of spiritual exploration, they help provide an awareness of the universe and the oneness of all life.

I discovered the joys of coloring mandalas quite by accident. Drawn to them at first by their colors and patterns on the cover of a book, I printed out a free mandala meant for coloring and dusted off my colored pencils. Eventually I learned how much easier it was to discuss topics with my husband that were normally fraught with tension (like finances). I could color and listen, collect my thoughts, then respond in a more calm and organized way. And when I colored while on the phone, I was more likely to remember the conversation later.

There is simply something freeing about coloring mandalas. Their symmetry provides a certain amount of comfortable rhythm and predictability, and yet no two people will color them exactly the same way. Even if you don’t quite know why mandala designs appeal to you or what you hope to gain while coloring them, get your colored pencils, crayons or markers ready and dive in. Before you know it, something inside you will shift, and you will have discovered another tool for enhancing your life.

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