Fed up with Facebook? Is your knitting in a knot? Has music become mundane? Well, I've got a new relaxing pastime to spruik and the therapists are on my side; colouring in for adults.
Yes, you read right: colouring in. If you haven't picked up a freshly sharpened pencil since you were eight years old, you've probably forgotten the simple enjoyment and satisfaction that can be derived from this basic activity.
Colour brings a page to life
As I put pencil to paper, my mind slows down and my world is reduced to a single piece of paper. The white page is filled with lines and patterns begging to be filled with colour to brighten the monochrome space.
At the beginning, the perfectionist in me has to take a deep breath and remind myself there's no 'right' way to do it; no 'wrong' combination of colours. Just pick the first one that my fingers find and start scratching away between the lines.
Pretty soon, I can see the colour creeping over the page and brightening it up. I enjoy seeing the contrast between colours and experimenting with which colours look good together (and which are best kept apart!). The page comes to life before my eyes.
Colouring in helps concentration
Colouring in is also great for concentration. While I can sit and listen to a sermon or music, I'm not great at it. My mind wanders and it's hard to concentrate and take it all in. But with my colouring in page in front of me, my hands are occupied and I'm able to concentrate so much better. Perhaps the elderly knitters of our congregation are taking in more of the sermon than we think!
There's a bunch of colouring in books for adults flooding the market—I suspect they're keeping our bookshops alive! One of the most popular is The mindfulness colouring book by Emma Farrarons.
The introduction explains that colouring in, 'carefully and attentively filling a page with colour, the feel of the pencil in your hand as you meditate on the beauty of the whole illustration—is particularly suited to mindful meditation'.
Colouring in as Christian meditation
While I enjoy meditating on what I'm doing, I reckon there's a way to take this mindfulness to the next level. A far better thing to meditate on, as a Christian, is, of course, God and His Word. That's why listening to a sermon or an audio version of the Bible is a far better way to focus as I colour in my page.
I think colouring in can become a great meditative tool for Christians to stop, be still and know that God is the great I AM, sovereign over everything, and we can find rest in Him alone.
A recent and welcome discovery has been this website: www.lorien-illustrations.com. It means that while colouring in the patterns, I can meditate deeply on a particular verse of the Bible. As a bonus, it will be something that could be posted on your wall at home or work (or the back of the toilet door!) as an ongoing reminder. You might even colour some in to give to friends and family for encouragement.
After all, God wants us to keep his Word before him in all moments of our lives:
'These words that I am giving you today are to be in your heart. Repeat them to your children. Talk about them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up'. (Deuteronomy chapter 6, verses 6 and 7).
So here's the take away—give colouring in a go. It's more fun than you might remember. And use the time colouring in (or whatever you're doing to relax) to focus on what's important: God's loving presence and words of life.
Sarah Urmston lives in Melbourne with her husband, Stephen. Having worked in public relations and communications as well as university student ministry, she's now getting used to the title of 'stay at home mum'.
Sarah Urmston's previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/sarah-urmston.html