I can manage about 5 minutes but after that my mind wanders off on a myriad of different paths, for me to suddenly remember where I am and what I am meant to be doing and snap it back to the process of meditating. I do find it quite funny.
I came across a study showing that colouring in Mandalas can reduce anxiety. I refer to an article in “Art Therapy: Journal of the American Art Therapy Association” 22(2) pp 81-85.
Abstract: This study examined the effectiveness of different types of art activities in the reduction of anxiety. After undergoing a brief anxiety-induction, 84 undergraduate students were randomly assigned to color a mandala, to color a plaid form, or to color on a blank piece of paper. Results demonstrated that anxiety levels declined approximately the same for the mandala- and plaid-coloring groups and that both of these groups experienced more reduction in anxiety than did the unstructured- coloring group. These findings suggest that structured coloring of a reasonably complex geometric pattern may induce a meditative state that benefits individuals suffering from anxiety.
I was reminded of this during an exchange on the Artful Genius facebook page last night. My post complaining about colouring books (you can read it here – Why I Dislike Colouring Books) coupled with Tip number 6 inspired Kate and Katherine to respond with how they enjoy colouring and how important for hand eye co-ordination, fine motor skills colouring can be.
I was so grateful to both of them for allowing me to further engage on this subject. I loved particularly that Kate mentioned how much she enjoyed the colouring in process, which brings me back to the relaxation of colouring mandalas.
As far as I am concerned, any art is good art if the focus is on enjoying the process and being in flow rather than continuously letting the ‘inner art critic’ to take over and stifle further work. Hence colouring in books can be creativity squashers if children feel the need to conform, to colour in the lines, and not to add their own personality to the work.
I ran a student canvas art workshop on mandalas with Grade 5 & 6 students (around 9-11 age group) and it was fantastic to see them all engaging – even the boys enjoyed the process of creating their mandala shapes on the canvas and then colouring them with the paints. The whole thing went for around 70 minutes and I can honestly say they were present until the end!
All we used were a circle template (you know the ones with lots of different sized circles on it) and a ruler to create the shapes. They used black permanent marker pen straight onto the canvas and then moved to painting the colours with bright acrylic paints. The results were spectacular and the children were all very pleased.
What I particularly loved was that the children did not necessarily colour symmetrically - you can see that some did each section identically, and others decided to mix things up a bit – some by mistake, some by design and some just going with the flow.
In the study above, the hypothesis was that colouring a mandala for 20 minutes was more effective at reducing anxiety than free-form colouring.
The results eluded to an interesting extension; “…coloring mandalas or other complex designs may be useful in lessening other stress-related problems if conducted before or immediately after the stressful activity. For example, people with test anxiety could color mandalas prior to taking the test, or people who fear flying on airplanes might color before, or even during, their flight.”
Well for the students in my ‘study’ it was great fun and I strongly recommend grabbing a circle template and a piece of paper and making your own mandalas to colour.