Saturday, August 1, 2015

Zen and the art of colouring

It has been a while since I've blogged.  There are various reasons for that, right now I'm just going to leave it at 'this year's not been an easy one'. I'm sure I will get around to filling in the gaps at some point.

But, it's a new month, and I have been thinking about my neglected blog; so hopefully it will be a successful and productive month; and I am hoping my blog - and writing - will help me get through it because it feels like anything that helps is worth it....... I am sure I'll get into that later too.

Recently I have been embracing 'mindfulness' in a big way - there are lots of different specifics claiming to teach mindfulness, or to help achieve mindfulness, but for me it is about recognising where you are and what you feel in that moment, identifying that, accepting it, dealing with it, and then allowing yourself to move on.

This specifically describes a very traditional method of mindfulness, but the key point is identifying how you
feel in the moment and finding what works for you  For me, that's not simply sitting and breathing, since
emptying my mind - although the ultimate meditation - just doesn't work!

Writing has always done that for me - it's always been an escape.  Art (as in drawing, painting etc.) has played a big part in it too - but since hurting my shoulder 4 years ago, art has still felt like more of a chore - an exercise in determination rather than relaxation...... sometimes worth it, sometimes not; but definitely something I still love to do when I can.

But over the past few months I have found the 'adult colouring book craze' to be the perfect compromise between my (limited) body and mind.  I honestly think it is the first time I have found something that allows me to relax and to switch off since I stopped being able to exercise - a decade ago.  I'm not creating the art, so it's actually more relaxing than drawing; I can get into 'position' - pillows positioned perfectly, both arms supported, my neck supported by my neck pillow, my pens/ pencils/ paintbrushes right next to me; sometimes I have Netflix or music (or um, noise, I've also become a fan of binaural and isochronic beats for pain/ sleep/ relaxation/ energy - not that I've found that one very useful.....); sometimes I am just thinking about colours - I can feel my subconscious ticking away, as always, my thoughts just flowing through my head, but they are not my focus.  I am lost in colours and designs and I feel relaxed.  Anyone who knows me knows that's not exactly my strong point.  My attempts at meditation are pretty much summarised in this old post: Meditation Failure.  All attempts: past, present, probably future - all of them!  So finding my zen in a colouring book is a pretty significant achievement!

And just as an extra bonus, my shoulder surgeon, hand surgeon, physios and doctors all approve - I am rebuilding neuromuscular connections so it's actual therapy on all fronts! (I've definitely stopped dropping things as much with my right hand....... not completely, although I haven't involuntarily thrown anything for a while); I'm getting better at staying inside the lines with my right hand(!); my left hand seems to be better at that - I am not sure if I am benefiting from improving my ambidexterity and exercising both hemispheres of my brain; or if I am just confusing left and right even more; but either way, it's pretty relaxing, yet beneficial rehab for both sides - I can just swap hands when one side gets a bit tired............ I've even managed to colour with both hands at once! That goes back to a bit more concentration and not as much relaxation though....

Oh, and I am absolutely recommending 'colouring books for mindfulness' to everyone I know for everything and anything!




Just a few examples

The secret of life is in art

~ Oscar Wilde  ~