Discover the Power of your Own, Everyday Wisdom (Mandala Colour-Journalling: Part 1)
If you continue to think
like you've always thought,
you'll continue to get
what you've always got.
Is it Enough?
Colorado Springs Gazette Telegraph, 1983
One of the best ways to "think differently" is by engaging in a self-reflective practice such as journalling, which allows you to deliberately tap into your own wisdom. And what is the best way to facilitate the journalling process? Colouring mandalas, of course! I call this wonderful process, Mandala Colour-Journalling.
Whether you use scatter-mapping to reduce stress or journal in another of the infinite number of other ways to focus on different goals, colouring and journalling work easily together and act synergistically. While other relaxing activities such as walking, baking, gardening or bathing can be reflective and combined with journalling too of course, stopping to write is cumbersome and interrupts the flow, whereas colouring is ideal because it actually enhances the writing flow. With a pen, pencil or marker already in hand, it's easy to go back and forth between colouring and journalling. You can write words and thoughts and sentences on the page as you think of them; and then colour on the same page during the pauses as other thoughts take their time to emerge.
Colouring also encourages the use of colour in the writing of the words themselves, and can open the door to visual journalling or doodle journalling, leading to a more free, expansive and imaginative mental space.
Colouring also makes a great "warm-up exercise" and (if you have ever had writer's block) means you never have to "face the terror of a white page" because there is always something inviting on the sheet to help you get started. In more structured or guided journaling it's even easier because you can just follow the prompts.
A Self-Reflective Practice to Reduce Stress
Colouring alone may be calming and soothing and ease your brain state into a more settled place, but adding words and thinking elevate this practice to a new level– into the realm of a self-reflective exercise. It's a way of literally "getting on the same page with yourself," and is one reason that journalling has been referred to as the mirror of the soul. It becomes a way to interact with the wisest part of yourself in a conscious, word-ful way. And combining colouring with journalling can help you go deeper into self-reflection than either, alone, as the colouring break provides space and repose for your brain to process what you've been putting on the page.
One other benefit of colour-journalling is that it helps to get your thoughts out of your head. It becomes a way to let go of anxious energy and provides a place to put your mental chatter. The paper can hold your circling thoughts for you as you release them onto the page in a concrete way. In fact, just a few minutes of colour-journalling could save you from a whole evening of rumbling ruminations!
Thinking Differently - Shifting out of Automatic Pilot
As we reflect on our experiences, the self-discovery process can be approached in infinite ways, from free-form scatter-mapping on a blank page to completely self-directed writing on lined pages, to very structured exercises with fill-in-the-blanks "sentence stems" (such as my Mandala Journal Cards.) Whatever your preferred method, journalling gives you the space to be frank with yourself, to examine your past, as well as preview a desired future.
For example, on my own Review/Preview Mandala Journalling Form, I've outlined a structured way of taking stock of a particular situation / goal:
- What worked? (what went right? what were the benefits or payoffs I received?)
- What didn't work? (what went wrong, what could have gone better, what were the costs, etc?).
- What will I do differently next time? (how can I get a better outcome?)
It can help you summarize a particular event in your life, with the brief story (the "who, why, what, where, when, how") of your experience in the left column, and "What worked?" and "What didn't work?" in the other two columns. Finally, at the bottom section of the page is the big payoff of this process, which is previewing a better outcome for the future by writing down what you could do differently next time. (I like to use big checkboxes in this section.) This form makes it easy to quickly review your own wisdom in the future, because it is neatly summarized at the bottom of the page.
Whether you focus in on a small detail of one day like the Review/Preview Form facilitates, or whether you focus in on "big-picture" ideas for your life, any type of colour-journalling gives you the opportunity to stop and think different thoughts. It's a great way to slow down and more deliberately get the most out of your experiences–to shift out of "automatic pilot" and get even better results next time. It helps move your focus from the past and orients your thinking towards the future in a positive, helpful way. It is also a very affirming tool for developing and expressing confidence about the future.
The poet Rainer Maria Rilke encourages us in this process of self-reflection with these words:
Nobody can advise and help you,
There is only one way.
Go into yourself.
~Rainer Maria Rilke, Poet~
To go deeper into yourself requires a certain level of relaxation and balance, and colouring mandalas is particularly centering, because of the abstract but symmetrical shapes. I like to think of mandala colour-journalling as a way to create change, even breakthroughs, especially if you are wrestling with a particularly difficult problem and journal about it repeatedly, over a period of time.
Discover the Power of your own, Everyday Wisdom: Try it Yourself!
Download a special Mandala Colour-Journalling page here (this month's page includes the Review/Preview Form) and see how easy and enjoyable it is to spend a few minutes in self-reflection. If you would prefer a blank form, download a Scatter-Map Colouring Page which can be used for any kind of journalling. I'd be very interested in hearing about your experience if you'd like to send me an email, or post in the comments section, below.
I've been using variants of my Review/Preview form for years, but find it's much more fun and easy when combined with colouring mandalas, is organized neatly on the page and I find it orients me much more quickly towards the future.