I am rarely ahead of the curve on anything. I still haven’t watched a single episode of Mad Men, I have no clue why Orange Is The New Black, and the only Housewives I know are my friends who are stay-at-home moms.
So when I started seeing all the posts on social media over the last year about the benefits of coloring as meditation, I smiled quietly, as a voice in my head said, “Yup.” Then my inner wannabe hipster started jumping up and down like a cheerleader.
Coloring as meditation is something I have been doing for many years. I even offered it as a component of a self-care fair during graduate school. I suggested it because I knew it as a path to self-care and inner calm. It was one of the strongest, most-beloved tools in my toolbox. But I bet you’d be surprised to learn where I originally got the idea.
My Unlikely Inspiration
Years ago, I watched The Osbournes. Seeing what Ozzy, Sharon, Kelly, and Jack were up to was a favorite pastime of mine. Unlike today, when I barely turn on the TV, back then I had my favorite shows, and this was one of them.
Much to my surprise, in one particular episode, Ozzy picked up some marvelous-looking markers from his kitchen counter and sat down at a bar stool. My brain said this, possibly out loud:
Ozzy Osbourne is sitting in his kitchen—coloring. Ozzy. Osbourne.
Perhaps he was doing original art; the camera never showed us. For me, I saw markers, which meant coloring. As he was doing so, his whole body looked calm and peaceful, even as the mayhem swirled around him. In that moment, I remember thinking to myself, “God, I miss coloring!” That sentiment was immediately followed by, “That looks so awesome—to just sit and color.”
Soon after that episode aired, I found some markers in a drawer and started to doodle. I enjoyed feeling the markers in my hand, watching the surge of color pour onto the page, and seeing the simple doodles come to life in front of me. It was fun! More than fun, though, it felt good.
At the time, I didn’t explain it as something “healthy,” “meditative,” or “peaceful.” Coloring was something to do that felt more productive than just watching TV. It wasn’t an escape, though—like TV was. Coloring was moving me toward something… something fabulous, calming, and expressive. It was a way for me to get in touch with myself again. What started out as a passive hobby soon became a deliberate choice.
Finding Calm Amid the Chaos
A little while later, I found one of my coloring books from elementary school. It was barely used, but it was intricate and detailed. It was what I now call an “adult coloring book.” (Unfortunately, the word “adult” can have a very different connotation, but there weren't many other ways I could think of to explain myself.) So “adult coloring book” it was. I started searching them out in crafts stores and online. (Thankfully both Google and Amazon understood what I meant!)
Back then there were very few available—not as many as today, of course, but enough. I found two main resources and became a loyal customer. I started to build a collection.
I would spend hours each week calmly sitting in a chair and coloring. I also started creating art for other people in my life to share my passion and creativity. My collection grew, and I found myself with so many options across so many areas of interest that I started cataloging my work. I went shopping for even better markers. I played with shading and backgrounds. My inner artist came to life. More importantly, I found great peace and a sense of calm as I sat and quietly filled in the empty space between the lines.
It wasn’t long before I started creating designs—mandalas, specifically—that I could color. My coloring had become more than a refuge; it was an outlet, and I loved it. I colored straight through my divorce and graduate school.
Today I use it very deliberately, and I have clients who do the same (sometimes it’s their homework!). Recently when I noticed my stress levels had gotten unmanageably high, I pulled out my markers and went to work. Within three days of doing this repeatedly, my sleep improved and my mood lifted.
If you haven’t tried coloring yet, may I suggest you take a page out of Ozzy Osbourne’s book and find a little time in your day for this wonderful creative outlet. It just might bring you calm in the midst of chaos. At the very least, you’ll get to feel like a kid again, and there’s nothing wrong with that.
This post originally appeared on InspireBytes, a blog written by author and life coach Martina E. Faulkner, LMSW. As a certified life coach, psychotherapist, and Reiki Master Teacher, Martina uses her extensive training and experience to help clients and readers live joy-filled, meaningful lives from a place of authentic alignment with who they are. Her most recent book, What if..? How to Create the Life You Want Using the Power of Possibility takes this idea and makes it actionable and applicable to daily life.