Read on to discover how Pillar have used colouring in to enhance the lives of many…
“Mindfulness” is a bit of a buzzword in mental health nowadays, but is in fact rooted in the ancient traditions of Buddhism. Tried and tested for centuries, the art of mindfulness encourages us to slow down and focus on the present moment. It urges us not to worry about a past that cannot be changed and a future that will not be improved by present anxiety. Experiencing all that the present moment has to offer is, from this point of view, truly living, and will have numerous benefits for both our physical and our mental health. ReachOut.com lists these benefits as including less anxiety, better problem solving and sleep and greater happiness overall.
In practical terms, there are many ways in which mindfulness can be practised, ranging from simple tasks to those requiring the development of new skills. Mindfulness meditation, for example requires a focus on breathing and an avoidance of distracting thoughts. This new way of thinking requires patience and perseverance but can reward us with a sense of peace which can last beyond meditation practice and into our daily lives. Mindfulness is also being incorporated into therapeutic practices used by professionals. Simpler exercises include savouring- taking the time to fully appreciate a small experience such as food or a walk- and progressive muscle relaxation.
At Pillar, we have been using colouring as a way of practising mindfulness, using pages printed from sites on Pinterest and the beautiful Enchanted Forest colouring book by Johanna Basford. In The Herald (2 May 2015), Johanna talks about the process of her work and her philosophy behind colouring;
“When you’re in that flow you’re caught up in the moment. That’s how I feel when I’m drawing. People get a sense of tranquillity when they’re colouring in”.
The women’s group was the first group at Pillar to try out colouring and it proved to be a very successful session. Having discussed the benefits and theory, the members were keen to try it for themselves and enjoyed the choice of pictures on offer. Soon we were all settled into quiet activity. The colouring proved restful and absorbing and facilitated some relaxed conversation. One member later told me that she found the colouring soothing in that it “takes you to another world”. Owing to the success of that session, we have now used the colouring activity with our Friendship group for those over 60 and are planning to use it in one of our Thursday night drop in sessions. Our experiences endorse colouring as a mindful experience, and I thoroughly recommend it as a simple and fun way to find some peace and flow amongst the business of life.
Fiona Scott- Mental Health Support Worker @ Pillar Kincardine