Colouring-in books are no longer something we have to put away when the kids go to bed, and more and more people are rediscovering the fun and relaxation that picking up a pen or pencil brings.
Not only is colouring great for bringing more creativity into our lives, it’s also helping lots of people become more mindful, and as a creative mindfulness teacher, this makes me very happy. However there are some simple things we can do to make it even more beneficial—so here are four tips for optimising mindfulness and increasing our wellbeing as we colour.
One: Checking-in before colouring-in.
Before starting, let’s take some time to notice mindfully what we’re bringing to the page. Colouring-in is great for taking our minds off our worries, and acts as a great mindful interrupter of the habitual stories and negative thoughts that may be stressing us out. But if we use colouring-in just to block out these thoughts then we’re missing out on the potential to mindfully and kindly make friends with them, turning our colouring into a space for self-compassion.
So before we pick up a pencil, it’s good to sit quietly, noticing how we’re feeling for a few moments:
Notice the body—is it warm or cool, relaxed or tense?
How are we feeling—are we stressed after a pressured day at work, or nice and relaxed after the weekend?
What state is our mind in—agitated and on over-drive, or sluggish and sleepy?
As we check-in we can also pay attention to our breath, following it all the way in, noticing the sense of space and expansion it makes in the body; and then following a breath all the way out, noticing the sense of letting-go this brings. Taking time to check-in and just breathe with whatever is present before we start colouring sends the message to ourselves that we’re listening, that we care and opens a space for self-compassion.
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This article originally appeared in Elephant Journal.