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As you well know, not everyone can sit still long enough to achieve a meditative state. The longer you sit the more difficult it is to push passing thoughts out of your mind and maintain focus. Before you know it you are fretting over work, planning a dinner menu, or just giving up. Our action-oriented, multi-tasking, Western society simply doesn’t mesh with traditional Eastern meditation techniques. This is where active meditation comes to the rescue.
Active meditation, sometimes called moving meditation, is easier to learn, but just as powerful as the Eastern meditation techniques you’ve likely tried to learn. When practicing active meditation you will chose a simple movement, like coloring, drawing, or even walking, to give you stronger focus. The repetitive motions act as a constant reminder allowing you to easily shift your attention back to the meditation, back to the moment, before any fleeting thoughts take hold. Negative images, past regrets and future worries are simply pushed aside as you take the time to enjoy the present. That is what meditation offers, a way to be truly ‘in the moment’. When is the last time you’ve done that?
I use mandala coloring as my primary active meditation technique. It’s the easiest way to learn how to meditate along with being inexpensive and fun. Coloring also allows you to open up your creative side and be expressive. Licensed art therapist use techniques like coloring to help patients with stress relief and to deal with anxiety issues.
Below are basic step-by-step instructions that will help you quickly learn how to meditate while coloring. If you are ready, grab your supplies, find a quiet space and give yourself 10-20 minutes to enjoy this peaceful form of stress relief.
Step One: Start the session with a smile. Don’t skip this step just because it sounds a little silly. Holding a light smile on your face will help put you in a receptive mood for the meditation. In fact, studies have proven that smiling, even when you are not happy, can raise the level of endorphins (mood enhancing chemicals) in your brain. So, start smiling!
Step Two: Flip through a coloring book and pick the first design that peaks your interest. I offer some free sample pages on my website (listed below) that have been designed specifically for active meditation.
Step Three: Choose your first pencil or marker and then begin to color. No need to over-think this, in fact I’m always amazed at the color combinations I come up with during a meditation and how wonderful they look together. I often find myself using colors I would normally ignore and then loving the end result. Whenever possible let the colors chose themselves.
Step Four: Watch the design take life with every stroke. Allow yourself to experience the movements, hear the sounds of the pencils on paper, or feel the markers as they glide across the page. As thoughts or pictures pop into your head (and they will) simply acknowledge them and then return your focus to the coloring. The movement will always bring you back.
Active meditation when combined with art is particularly effective for stress relief. I have found that thirty minutes of active meditation can reduce anxiety and even help with panic attacks. Even a short ten minutes is enough to produce positive results. As you enjoy practicing your active meditation you will find it continually gets easier to relax and achieve a peaceful, meditative state.