colour pencil mandala
Do you find it difficult to sit still long enough to meditate? Do you find your mind churning away no matter how hard you try to silence it? Have you given up on meditation because it’s just too difficult?
There are many styles and methods of meditation, and if you think meditation isn’t for you, you may not have found the right type. It’s worth trying something different if you haven’t yet found a style or method that suits you. Even if you are experienced with meditation, it’s good to try something different now and then. Different styles and methods will suit different people and different times and situations in your life.
Meditative drawing or meditative art is fantastic for anyone of any age, regardless of artistic ability or training. One of the easiest ways to get into meditative drawing is through colouring. That’s right, Colouring! You know, that thing so many children love to do, yet many adults have left behind. Repetitive movements can help our brains achieve a meditative state, and the simple act of colouring in a picture can have a remarkable impact.

One of the main things to remember when doing meditative drawing is that the purpose is not to create art. In fact, the final product is not really important at all. It’s all about the process.

Who it’s for

Meditative colouring is fantastic for anyone who can hold a pencil or crayon comfortably. It’s great if you find it difficult to sit still without doing anything or if you dislike having to close your eyes to meditate. Absolutely no artistic ability is needed. In fact, I highly recommend colouring for you if you feel that you lack creativity and tend to be very logical, relying on your mind, or in your head a lot. I find meditative colouring useful during times when I am finding it particularly difficult to settle myself, or in situations where I am not comfortable closing my eyes, such as when commuting on the train.

Who it’s not for

If you are unable to comfortably hold a pencil or crayon for lengthy periods of time, meditative colouring may not be suitable for you. This may apply if you have severe arthritis or repetitive stress injury, or some other impairment in your hands or wrists. Visual impairment may also make it difficult for you to colour. If you would still like to colour, I suggest enlarging the image you choose as much as possible and using larger materials such as crayons which may be easier for you to hold. Choose images to colour that have larger areas and less finicky details. You can also colour in your mind, by looking at an image and visualising how you would add colour to it.

“With action be content to move, with thinking be content to think, but before doing anything, calm the turmoil of your mind.” – Yun Wen

How to colour meditatively

Step 1. Prepare your materials

Have everything you want to use laid out on your table before you begin. This includes the image you want to colour, as well as whatever you want to use to colour it with. This may be colour pencils, crayons, felt tip pens, or anything you like. You don’t want to get up in the middle to find a missing colour. Decide before you start to only use what you have available right there. Erasers are optional. Many people feel that erasing anything you have done is contrary to meditative practice, in that it is not possible to make a mistake during the exercise and therefore no correction is ever needed. Nevertheless I understand the occasional desire to neaten things up. So I would recommend not using an eraser if possible, but if you can’t resist don’t feel bad about it.

Step 2. Undisturbed space

Try to choose a time and place where you can be undisturbed for the duration of the meditation. Turn off your phone and if you like you can put on some meditative music or isochronic tones. Give yourself as much time as you like; I recommend a minimum of 15 to 20 minutes. Set a timer and decide not to look at the clock for the duration of the exercise if you tend to fidget during meditation.

Step 3. Prepare yourself

Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths. Choose to focus on colouring in your image, letting go of any other thoughts and concerns.

Step 4. Begin colouring

Deliberately select your first colour and begin! Every stroke does not need to be “perfect” but it should be deliberate. Don’t over think your choice of colour. Instead, try to rely on your gut instinct. Pick whichever colour “feels good” to you and put it wherever you like. You are finished whenever you decide you are finished.

Step 5. Step back and look at your picture

For many people, this is the hardest step, but it is absolutely necessary. Take the time to look at your finished picture without judgement or criticism. Remember, this is not about creating art. How do you feel when you look at your work? If you want you can put your picture somewhere you can look at it for a time, like on the wall or fridge. When you feel it is time, you could choose to destroy it, symbolically letting go of any negative emotions associated with it and/or reminding yourself of the fleeting nature of things. Whatever you choose to do, make it deliberate. Don’t just push your picture to the side and forget about it.
And that’s it!
charcoal mandala

Things to remember

  • Every stroke you place must be deliberate
  • You don’t have to stay within the lines.
  • You decide when a picture is finished. You don’t have to colour in every space.
  • One picture can be completed over several days.

Ramp it up

Here are some ideas to take your Colouring Meditation a bit further.

  • Try different mediums such as charcoal, coloured pencils, watercolour paint, crayons and pastels.
  • Try using images in different sizes. You may enjoy small detailed images, or you may prefer large ones.
  • Try shading with only one colour.
  • Or try using only 2 or 3 colours.
  • Use the same colour(s) for a week.
  • Use the same image for a week, colouring it differently each time.

To help you get started, I have created a downloadable Mandala Colouring Book which you can get FREE when you sign up for our monthly newsletter. So what are you waiting for? Download it and give Meditative Colouring a try!