Why You need Mindful Coloring

Watching the pandemic news, working from home, kids home from school, schedules a mess….who can relate? As a mom, like me, you probably feel the burden of keeping the peace in the house, meal preparation, etc. Keeping the kids balanced as well as your spouse. I’m not sure why we take this on, but it seems instinctual.

In the wake of this corona virus craziness we all need a very simple way to relax and reduce stress. A daily practice of coloring can calm the mind and stay positive. Keep you mentally healthy to prioritize what matters.

Coloring has the ability to relax the fear center of your brain, the amygdala. It induces the same state as meditating by reducing the thoughts of a restless mind.

beaumont.org – health benefits of coloring for adults

You don’t have to look far to realize mindful coloring has several benefits. The following are just to name a few benefits according to Alfred James – author of Pocket Mindfulness

  • relieving stress
  • replacing patterns of negative thinking
  • encouraging yourself to be present
  • escaping the rat race
  • building mental strength
  • relaxing and having some fun

And a study noted by Psychology Today’s blog indicates after a week of daily practice it displayed significantly lower levels of anxiety and depressive symptoms.

What you need is 5 to 15 minutes (or more if you can) to just relax the mind, to concentrate on the positive. Coloring is so simple. You will find it really does help bring you into the present and give your mind that break and calm it needs.

An added benefit is the end result can be shared to spread some happiness and positive feelings in others.

If you interested in getting a mindful coloring book, here is a link to get one on Amazon.

A Moment in Nature

Nature keeps us in the moment and allows us to stop thinking about all our other thoughts. Today was no different.

I was thinking of more ways to be in the moment and had memories of taking photos of nature with my husband on our honey moon back in the day. My brother had given us a really nice camera for our wedding present (a camera he wanted to get more use). We gladly accepted it. This was prior to the digital picture age.

I remember how it slid us down a slide of learning everything about the camera options and lighting. We took a lot of photographs together and saw amazing sights. Taking in all the nuances of the scenes outside. We loved getting them developed and going over them and trying to remember which one of us took each photo and why. My husband was way more talented that I at this endeavor, but I loved being in the experience.

So, today I enlisted my daughter to use her digital phone and take pictures for my blog posts. She captured such incredible videos for a previous post, I knew I wouldn’t be disappointed. She went on a walk for some fresh air and captured the most incredible pictures today. It was raining earlier and she went out in the break of the rain.

What I didn’t realize is how many great shots she would get and how satisfied and relaxed she was when she returned. I thought to myself this would be a good reflection for today. I asked her what her top three things that were calming and mindful to her.

Top three reasons photography is mindful.

  1. Being tune with Nature and finding little nooks of peacefulness.

2. Ignoring any anxieties while focusing on the intricate details of the photo.

3. Focusing on this very moment and beauty of the shot without distraction.

When she returned and we were going over the photographs, and she was explaining her experiences, it really brought me back to how photography can be so calming and stimulate a mindful connection to nature and the people you share the photos with. I’m going to have to go with her next time.

This one is particularly fun, because there is a fly photo bombing in the flower. Can you find it?

Free Your Mind

I love the idea that focus and intention can free your mind to true happiness.

“The path is to free your mind, become more focused, bring yourself into a proactive, calm and positive state of mind.”

https://humanperformancepsychology.com/2020/02/21/from-outside-your-comfort-zone-and-into-the-zone/

Validation for me that having more focus is crucial to the journey of development and growth in life. Why do we lose focus and what does it take to regain it. From what I’m learning, it’s our fears that creep in that allow us to get in a comfort zone. We may not even realize we have fears or what they are. This comfort zone creates the willingness to allow attentions to be divided. Being proactive and deciding to face the fears, or even just figure them out along the way can create the path for greater quality of life.

The article makes reference to Flow. The book “Flow” by Csikszentmihalyi.

Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience teaches how, by ordering the information that enters our consciousness, we can discover true happiness and greatly improve the quality of our lives.

Csikszentmihalyi now has a newer book called “Finding Flow: The Psychology of engagement with everyday life.” I have just ordered it on audible credits.

Who doesn’t want to free your mind to true happiness?

When I’ve completed the book I will post a follow up. For now, have a great day.

Improve Focus

What to get out of this post: 3 mindful activities that can help increase the ability to focus. They have equal benefit for men, women, and children.

  1. Coloring
  2. Walking
  3. Connecting with Nature

Coloring

I find the coloring is pretty easy and good way to practice a laser focus on the ‘here and now’. You want to be intentional about the activity. Meaning, set a time and a find a place you are undisturbed…keep your attention to the coloring and when your mind drifts off (which it will) redirect it back to the physical act of coloring, choosing colors, the texture of the paper, the pens or pencils, the sounds, etc.

Walking

I used to walk and just let my thoughts wander and go from thought to thought, I would work out problems to solve or plan things I needed to do that day. Which is valuable, but the practice of mindfulness walking that trains the mind for focus is a bit different. It is an activity of intention and discipline to stay focused. Each step having intention and observance of the action, and feeling every motion and interaction with the feet to the ground.

The following information is a good to start: A guided ten minute walking meditation by MrsMindfulness. She also posted a soundcloud guided meditation.

I really like the following quote from the guided walking meditation.

“…Aiming to put aside any mental commentary, labeling or judging about what you see, and instead just being present with what is here to be seen…”

https://mrsmindfulness.com/guided-walking-meditation/

Connecting with Nature

Connecting with nature can be done in multiple ways and I’m only scratching the surface here. One way is to observe nature and really focus on the details of what you see. When other thoughts interrupt, use the study to refocus on the nature you are observing. Think about the texture, the smells, the movement, colors, etc.

I started adding pictures and videos of nature on the lifeinspiredreflections instagram account. It’s been really fun to work with my daughter to capture these and post them. We will continue to post more. Here is one of a flower.

Another way to use nature for practicing mindfulness is picturing in your mind of something in nature you’ve seen before. Sit without distraction and close your eyes and visualize every detail…try to rebuild the image in you mind. Even better describe it to someone else with you. It’s harder than you think and does take some practice.

There are several more out there related to nature. The main thing I’m getting out of these is the practice of keeping the mind focused. I find distraction in almost every corner these days and I used to be very intentional with my focus. I am working to get that back and attempt to make it a subconscious skill again.

Thank you for reading…stay tuned for more ways to practice in simplistic ways. Please comment or email easy ways you’ve practiced mindfulness.

Coloring with Intention

I’ve never really been much of an artist myself, but I’ve always been an admirer and supporter of art and artists. I find observing art and thinking about what it took to create it very meaningful to me. I can really dive into related memories and observations that the art provokes. I am so blessed I have friends and daughters that have the gift of art and appreciation for it. I have even been thinking of experimenting with simple art myself.

Recently, as I got a starbucks and perused target while looking through the book isle, I ran across some coloring books for positive thinking. Considering my desire to do some simple art, I wondered if coloring would help me be more mindful. Post I’ve read recently even claim coloring can create a meditative state. They claim you don’t even really need to think about it, the calmness will come naturally with the activity.

I brought my book home and sat it on the coffee table. Thinking this will be relaxing and enable me to share my experience as well. After walking past it a couple days, I ordered some cheap markers and anxiously awaited their arrival from amazon. They arrived the next day.

The present moment is the only moment available to us, and it is the door to all moments.

– Thich nhat hanh

I collected up markers and my book and tore out the first page. I highly advise if you try this to get the perforated paged books. It’s much easier to color them independent of the book itself. I found a comfortable spot on the couch and started in on my adventure.

I immediately noticed, as I opened the markers, that I was very much in the present moment trying to decide what colors to use. I started with a lite pink marker. As I picked it up I realized I had not used a felt marker in a long time and it was very lite in my hand as I started to fill in the first shape.

I started to notice how quiet it was in the room and my breathing was relaxed as I chose each shape to be pink. I didn’t pre choose a color pallet, but that may have made it even easier on me during the activity. Each time I chose a new color, I just spread that color out across the pattern. I was listening to the marker sweep across each stroke to fill in the shapes. I was coloring very contently for about 15 minutes.

At the 15 minute mark I did find that my mind was trying to pull me away from the present. I was determined to stay with my intention of coloring a single page. I stayed focused to finish the outside pattern for about 5 more minutes for a total of 20 minutes. But my page was only half completed before I needed to start some food preparation and dog needed let out.

Lucky for me, my daughter came walking into the room right as I was wrapping up. I showed her what I was doing and asked her if she wanted to try it. She finished the middle section for me in a beautiful pattern of colors which is now my profile picture of an owl with flowers around it.

So, I do think this is worth the practice. I noticed that it does help you to be more aware of the present even after the activity. I will see if my patience improves with practice. I have a whole book to color now. I have posted some of the resources I used to find information and more examples of this activity.

Resources

These resources have information about how to do this activity and also lots of free resources for coloring pages to print as well as some Amazon links.