The Power of Small
Finding the Right Colouring for Healing
A few years ago when I visited a friend undergoing cancer treatment, she told me about one of her most important stress-relievers: "I learned about the benefits of colouring mandalas from an art therapist and was immediately hooked," she said. "Colouring is the one thing keeping me sane. I can retreat into that world for a time and get a real break from the stress of it all."
I had first enjoyed adult colouring myself years ago before it became popular, although I hadn't done it for a long time. I was keen to try it again, so we decided to start colouring together on our visits. I went home to dig up my old colouring pages, but when I found them, there were fewer than I remembered, and some of the designs were quite intricate, requiring very fine-tipped markers. That didn't seem so stress-relieving!
Creating Simple, Manageable Designs
A quick search of the internet also did not turn up very many designs I wanted to colour ... so I started creating my own. Simpler designs, smaller designs–more manageable designs, yet still attractive and engaging.
Being a lover of small things, I started printing out my mandalas on four by six inch index cards. No fancy layouts with multiple mandalas on a big page, no intricate designs, just one mandala per card, easy enough to complete in one visit and simple enough to colour while carrying on a conversation at the same time. I realized this simple format would also be helpful for anyone with limited energy and concentration. And physically small enough to tuck a few cards into a purse, available anytime while out and about: in a waiting room, coffee shop, hospital cafeteria, visiting a friend, etc. As well, they are so small and portable it is easy to give a card to someone else in the moment to create a shared activity–no need to carry two colouring books with you!
Practical Cards: for Giving, Sharing ...
Also being a lover of practical things, I wanted to find a way to use my designs. Of course a postcard was a natural idea and I integrated my cards with the idea of an "active gratitude practice." Eventually I had so many mandala designs, I came up with 3 different practical ways to use them on cards:
- Gratitude Postcards - gratitude in action! A colouring "gratitude meditation" which can then be used as a simple gift, all in one card. I've been very surprised and touched by the power of sending and receiving these in the mail.
- Guided One-line Journal Cards - a simple way to journal, focused on just one idea on each card. A way to reflect deeply on a single thing, yet in a relaxed way.
- Encouragement Cards, or what I sometimes call "Cheer-up-a-Friend" Cards - a colouring card you can give to a friend having a hard time–a way to let them know you're thinking of them, even when you're not there. This gives them a simple design they can colour in, providing a way to focus on something colourful outside of themselves, and a way for them to experience a small sense of satisfaction when they're done, through a low-demand activity. A great physical reminder of your support, and a conversation piece, too.
Try a Small Sampler Pack
So designing simple mandalas and creating useful gifts out of them were my first steps. It's been a long journey from printing out dollar-store index cards on my home printer and sharing them with friends, to nicely-packaged professionally printed cards on thick card stock. But that was the beginning of the "Sampler Packs" now in my on-line store. Over the next few weeks I'll tell you more of the story as I add more products to my store.
Enjoy a Stress Break
In the meantime, here's a mandala you can look at for a few minutes for a little stress break. Notice what you notice about the colours, shapes and patterns or just enjoy a wordless visual experience.
Have a colourful day!