Ashleigh Sharman gets out her colouring pencils for a taste of the latest wellness trend your kids are all too familiar with.
On a recent interstate trip, instead of loading up on the usual international fashion magazines I picked a colouring book and pencils. Not for a child, but for me.
The latest wellness trend to hit newsagents and bookstores around the country, colouring might just be the new yoga; the newsagent manager I spoke to exclaiming how pleasantly surprised she was with their booming uptake among business travellers.
So what’s actually going on here? I haven’t ‘coloured in’ since I was in primary school and, honestly, ‘who has the time to colour?'(I actually said this to SPA+CLINIC editor, Jenni Gilbert, and she’d later not stop hearing about it.)
The fact we all lead busy lives is a given, so to be able to take a moment to pause, to improve wellbeing and feel calmer, less stressed, even at peace with our emotions, is nothing but a good thing, right?
Dr Alexandra Walker agrees and perhaps has her three-year old son to thank for it. ‘We colour in together, and have been for a year now, but even though I was reluctant at first it didn’t take long before I found myself getting really absorbed in it,’ she says, explaining the therapeutic benefits known by Carl Jung, who prescribed the colouring in of mandalas for patients.
“I’d want to keep going long after my son was done with the activity. Jung saw the benefits of being absorbed in the moment – absorbed in a task so much that you relax the amygdala (the fear centre of the brain), soothe anxiety and eliminate stress. This is mindfulness in action and its popularity is really no surprise. And unlike many ‘mindfulness’ practices this one delivers an end result.”
The introduction to Emma Farrarons’ The Mindfulness Colouring Book confirms this mandate for colouring as a mindful practice and has proved so popular that a second book is on the way this October.
“Being mindful is about paying attention to the present moment, clearing your mind of distractions and focusing on simply being,” adds Dr Walker, who asks us to step back and consider what is so wrong with society that we now need all this stuff.
“Pretty much any activity, done right, can be an exercise in mindfulness but the act of colouring in is particularly suited to mindful meditation.
“You don’t have to colour between the lines; you can use textas, pencils or crayons; and there is no grade or score. It’s a way for us to move away from competitiveness and performance driven activities.” Food for thought indeed.
Farrarons’ exquisite scenes and intricate, sophisticated patterns thus offer a perfect calming exercise in mindfulness and creativity with the added benefit of seeing a visual representation of your internal meditation – and there are no rules!
Colouring does however afford us the opportunity to find moments of escape – to discover moments of mindfulness – and the time is certainly ripe to fill your staff kitchen with activities that would rival any kindergarten and colour your way to calm.