When most people think about meditation, they imagine sitting cross-legged on the floor and trying to empty all the thoughts from their mind. Or they think of Tibetan monks chanting mantras in temples far away. While it’s true those are forms of meditation, they aren’t the only ways to meditate.
Unfortunately, many people never realize meditation doesn’t have to be quite so complicated. They give up because sitting in the lotus position is too uncomfortable or because they can’t stop the constant stream of thoughts going through their mind or for any number of other very legitimate reasons. They miss out on all the rewards of meditation — better sleep, reduced stress, improved health, deeper self-awareness, and a whole host of other benefits.
That’s why we’ve decided to begin a new series of articles devoted to everyday meditation. We’ll offer simple techniques you can incorporate into your day with very little effort, along with suggestions for how to turn daily tasks into a form of meditation.
I’m going to begin with one of my favorites, a technique so easy little children do it all the time. I can almost guarantee you’ve done it at least once in your lifetime, and most of you probably have done it hundreds of times.
It’s called coloring.
Yes, you read that correctly. Coloring. Before you laugh and dismiss the idea, stick around long enough to learn how coloring can be turned into a meditative activity.
You don’t need to be an artist to make this technique work. In fact, you don’t need any artistic skill whatsoever. All you need is a few minutes and a willingness to stop worrying about whether or not your doodle turns out to be a masterpiece. Remember when you were very young and drew stick figures and rainbows and crooked houses and didn’t care what other people thought? Embrace that feeling for a moment and release any inhibitions.
What you’ll need:
1. A table or desk or other flat surface to work on.
2. Crayons or markers.
3. A coloring book, or plain paper, or lined paper, or colored paper, or whatever else works best for you.
How to Turn Coloring Into a Meditative Experience
Sit comfortably and take a few deep breaths. Pay attention to your body, especially around the neck and shoulders, and release any tension in the muscles. Give yourself a moment to relax.
Once you’re settled, pick up a crayon or marker and start coloring. Move slowly and rhythmically. I recommend drawing or coloring circles and spirals first to get your hand moving in a circular motion because it can become rather hypnotic.
Don’t worry about staying within the lines, or about whether or not blue and orange look good next to each other, or about any other trivial details. Enjoy the process and don’t attach yourself to the end result.
Let your mind wander freely. Continue to move slowly. Simply relax, take your time, and fill the space with color.
Do this for ten or fifteen minutes.
Voila! You’ve meditated.
If you want to take this technique a step further, you can use coloring books filled with designs that are especially suited for meditative coloring. If you’re interested, here are some suggestions:
1. Images: The Ultimate Coloring Experience by Roger Burrows
2. Secret Garden: An Inky Treasure Hunt & Coloring Book by Johanna Basford
3. Power Mandalas Coloring Book by Klaus Holitzka
4. Coloring Mandalas 2 by Susanne Fincher
If you want to take this technique yet another step further, you can make your own designs and color those instead. The images you see throughout this article are designs I made using a Spirograph and then colored later. I find the process of creating the designs very meditative, and coloring them is equally meditative once you learn to let go and not worry about how the end result looks. The technique sometimes produces designs that resemble a mandala, while at other times the designs look more like something out of a physics textbook. Either way, it’s a fun and very relaxing practice.
If you’d like to color some spirograph designs, you can download a few of them we made specifically for this article. Right-click here and select “Save Target As” or “Save Link As” to download a zipped file containing three spirographs you can print and color in with crayons or markers. (The file is approximately 208 KB.)