The other day I got a call from a friend of mine who was telling me about something that upset her and she needed to vent. At the moment I was struggling with my own set of frustration and the phrase “not my circus, not my monkey” popped into my head. And stayed there. Fortunately my friend just needed someone to listen to her, and that was something I could do. But my “monkey” – in the form of my monkey mind – kept chattering and jumping around with the frustrations I was experiencing. I definitely needed some calmness and peace. Something to quiet my mind and soothe my emotions.
So I thought of coloring. Adult coloring.
I know. I know. You think it’s one of those fads that’s come and gone. Maybe you’ve tried it. Maybe you think it’s too hard to calm the chatter in your head to really get into it. Maybe you think it’s childish.
Maybe all of the above. But give me a minute here.
Think about our childhoods…
Remember when we were kids and we had a brand-new box of 24 crayons? Or even one of those boxes of 48. (The giant box of 64 crayons I only got at Christmas.) But there they were, all those gorgeous crayons with nice sharp points standing rank on rank all in order in the box. Remember the smell? Nothing quite matches the smell of a brand-new box of crayons.
And maybe we had a brand-new coloring book. Maybe a princess one. Which princess had the most beautiful dress? And what color should that beautiful dress be? Primrose? I liked the name as well as the color. Time would fly by as we chose the very best colors for that beautiful dress and the ballroom in the background. We were filled with a sense of calm and peacefulness as we made something beautiful. Before we knew it Mom was calling us for dinner.
That same sense of calm and peacefulness is not just for kids. It can be ours as well.
- Here’s what you’ll need to get started. First you’ll need something to color – an ADULT coloring book. I can help you with that. Just go HERE to get access to my FREE Library where you’ll find lots of free coloring pages for you to download. (I did
- mention that it was free, right? You’ll need the password – create.)
- Then you’ll need something to color with. How about your own brand new box of crayons? One you don’t have to share with the kids or grandkids. Go ahead – splurge on that box of 64 crayons. Crayons are great for quickly putting down lots of color and for shading. They’re not so great for pictures with lots of tiny details
- Similar to crayons are pastels. They come in either chalk or oil pastels and have a wide variety of colors. They are excellent for blending techniques. However, they do tend to smear. You can fix that with a light spray of a fixative or even hairspray.
- My favorite medium at the moment is colored pencils. Colored pencils are GREAT for Adult Coloring Books. There are regular colored pencils and watercolor pencils. I wouldn’t recommend the watercolor pencils if you are coloring on something like copy paper because the paper tends to buckle and stretch when it gets wet. If you can print your picture or design on heavier weight cardstock or even watercolor paper then watercolor pencils would be fun to use.
- Another favorite medium is gel pens. You can buy sets of gel pens with dozens – even hundreds – of colors for very little money. I got a set of a hundred from Amazon and it has sparkle colors, metallic colors as well as vibrant and pastel-colors.
- And then there are felt tip pens. They have beautiful deep colors and it’s easy to fill in a design quickly. Many come with fine tips as well as the brush tip. Like gel pens they are very hard to do any shading with. And they tend to “bleed” through the paper. So just put a piece of scrap paper underneath your picture and color on. Nothing beats felt tip pens for quick beautiful color.
Then there’s the Scientific Angle
Scientists have found out that coloring relaxes the amygdala – the part of our brains that is one of our stress centers – and activates the centers that support creativity. Who knew? Coloring is especially helpful for people who suffer from constant anxiety and is helpful with PTSD and depression. Coloring is considered a good mind exercise because it used both side of our brains – the logic-based left brain and the creative right brain. Win-Win!
Neuropsychologist Dr. Stan Rodski says that coloring can elicit real neurological effects: “We started seeing changes in heart rate, changes in brainwaves…the most amazing things occurred.”
Coloring can also “train our brains.” It can make us more efficient, more logical, and mentally stronger. REALLY?? Yep. Leslie Marshall, a clinical psychologist, says that “coloring opens up the frontal lobes of our brains – the home of organizing and problem solving – and focuses the mind.” Wow! And psychologist Gloria Martinez Ayala says that coloring is an efficient way of activating the cerebral cortex and helps to delay illnesses associated with aging, like dementia.
You probably already knew that students often take coloring books to university lectures to help them focus on the professor’s lectures, and that participants in group therapy sessions who have issues with concentrating often do better when they have a coloring book handy. And something to color with, of course. (If you want to try it check out my library and download your own coloring pages here. The password is create.)
Our Spiritual Life
Carl Jung, one of the founders of modern psychology, believed that coloring mandalas helped adults experience many of the benefits of meditation – like peacefulness, inner calm, and self realization. He believed that
when adults colored a mandala it connected them to their inner self; that mandalas represented the intricacies of the inner person.
Coloring also can help establish a more positive attitude. When you think about it, it makes sense. When we are focused on our worries – bills, health, family, Covid, the violence in our nation, whatever – our minds tend to get into negative spirals. When we break those spirals by swapping out those negative thoughts and emotions with neutral or positive thoughts about patterns and colors, those negative issues take a back seat and we gain some calm.
One of my favorite books is “Praying In Color” by Sybil MacBeth. She uses doodling and coloring to focus her mind and lift up the person/situation/thankfulness whatever to the Holy One without distraction. We so often use words only when we pray and coloring can quiet our minds so that we can be quietly and peacefully in the Divine’s presence.
If you’ve tried traditional meditation and found that your “monkey mind” wouldn’t cooperate, coloring is another way to help you focus on your breath or your meditation word.
Finally, Coloring is Just Plain Fun!
There is something so very satisfying in creating something useful or beautiful. Adult coloring allows us to create beauty without a lot of effort. Or skill. Or talent. We don’t even have to stay within the lines!
As for usefulness, take your favorite coloring picture and an inexpensive frame and put them together. Instant wall art! And instant self-esteem! (There’s some really pretty pictures in the Library – check them out here. Password = create.)
Some folks have formed Adult Coloring Groups where like minded
people get together for an evening of coloring. A friend of mine and I –
and her daughter – will sometimes just get together and color. And snack. And
just be sociable. In these Covid days that’s harder and harder to do, but hopefully soon those fun evenings will be a possibility again. I’m imagining a summer evening sitting on the front porch, a pitcher of iced tea and a plate of fresh cookies on the table, and a few of my favorite people with their favorite coloring supplies. What could be better?
So yeah. Adult Coloring. If you want to give it a shot get your favorite coloring tools and head on over to my free Library and choose some coloring pages. Don’t forget the password – create. Help yourself to as many as you want – they’re free. I’ll be adding to them frequently.
Come join me on my “virtual front porch” and let’s color!