08/19 Is Coloring a Waste of Time?

Saturday, September 14, 2019 is National Coloring Day which is particularly special for us (perhaps not surprising for those of you who know that Rebecca made Coloring Creates Wellbeing: The Desert Mandalas Coloring Book).

Recently, Rebecca was running an Art for Relaxation workshop in which, among many art options (masks, canvas boards, blank cards) she’d laid out some coloring images.  Jane, one of the attendees, commented that she thought coloring was a waste of time.  She’d recently gone to a weekend retreat and complained that during the lectures many of the attendees were coloring.  She likened this to texting while someone was speaking and wondered how they could be so disrespectful.

Rather than try to convince her otherwise, Rebecca encouraged Jane to spend the session coloring and observe what happened during that process.  Not surprisingly, just a half an hour later,  Jane had a different take on coloring.  She realized that instead of being distracted, she had been able to focus better on what was going around her. In addition, she was significantly more relaxed.  That’s because the engaged concentration of coloring promotes the relaxation response–it lowers the heart rate, blood pressure, and body temperature and it evens out the breathing.

What’s ironic about coloring is that part of what turns people off from doing it is also what makes it appealing. For example, people often find it childish but the playful quality of coloring also helps overcome anxiety about needing to make something “pretty” or “artistic” or “creative”. Thankfully the popularity of adult coloring books means that the imagery is now more sophisticated. Also, people who wouldn’t do art because they wouldn’t know where to begin appreciate the pre-drawn image. It gives them a structured place to start.

Research is now telling us about coloring that:

  • It quiets the mind and stills the body.
  • It makes us calmer and more alert.
  • It improves focus.
  • It stimulates whole brain thinking–i.e., a mix of right-brain creativity and left-brain organization and planning.

In addition, as Jane discovered, rather than being distracted coloring actually makes us more present. We often say, tongue-in-cheek, that coloring is like meditation not because it makes us more mindful but rather because it makes us mindless.  That is to say that our minds become clearer and we are no longer pre-occupied with the pressured stream of thoughts and worries that we often experience in our day-to-day lives.

So, in honor of National Coloring Day and the benefits that coloring can provide, we share with you the coloring sheet you see above which comes from The Desert  Mandalas Coloring Book . Take it to the next lecture or meeting you have to go to and see if coloring it doesn’t help you focus better and absorb the content of what you are listening to more.

Positively yours, Rebecca and Gioia

Art Directive
Download and print Rebecca’s Prickly Pear Petals coloring image. If you can, use a heavier card stock. Use color pencils (we love prismacolor pencils because they’re so rich and smooth), markers, gel pens, pastels or paints and jump in! There is no right or wrong way to color–stay in the lines or ignore them altogether. Play with different kinds of marks. Use a particular color palette–cool blues, greens and purples or warm yellows, oranges, and reds–or make it random. Do it in one session or keep working on it over time. Share your results with us on our FB page. We’d love to see them!