I was given a colouring-in pattern book for Christmas with mandala designs. It was a pleasant surprise, as I had not done any colouring since I was at school.
I found it quite absorbing, being able to pay attention for long periods without any distractions. Some of the patterns are intricate and require a lot of concentration. Creating the coloured patterns was satisfying and relaxing.
When it was finished I was able to stand back and reflect on what makes it so pleasing. Such simple colouring is in itself is a mindful practice. We are truly in the moment while doing it, not being drawn to think of the past or any concerns for the future
Mandalas as Aids to Meditation
Mandalas are intricate coloured geometric patterns within a circle, symbolically they represent the cosmos. In various spiritual traditions, mandala pictures are used as an aid to meditation. The stained glass circular windows found in churches are a type of mandala.
While sitting in silence one focuses solely on the mandala. You can study the detail, or just absorb the general patterns. By holding the picture at the centre of your attention it helps you stay present.
Some Tibetan monks create mandalas as a group using different coloured sand. It may take days to complete while they work together in silence. These creations are quite intricate and beautiful. Once finished the monks ritualistically destroy it. For them this final action represents the transient nature of life.
Focusing our Attention
Artists, professional and amateur, can work with an intensity of concentration and creativity for long periods when painting, drawing or working with sculpture. Daily activities such as cooking, washing and ironing are a time when we can be quiet and focus our attention. Each one can be a mindful and meditation practice.