coloring as…meditation?

when i received the invitation for a wedding i recently attended, i noticed the colored flowers looked a little waxy.  no way, i thought.  so i texted the bride-to-be:  

“Dude, did you HAND COLOR your wedding invitations?  If so, it makes me want to get married just for that.”

she confirmed, said it was relaxing, and i thought nothing more of it. 

until a month later, when a friend alerted me to the adult-coloring-as-meditation trend.   i was intrigued, so she put me in touch with a friend of hers who began coloring occasionally last year.  (while this friend of a friend graciously answered my questions and definitely exists, she’s unable to go on the record)   

the woman tried coloring after reading online about its popularity among adults.  at the time, she was plodding away on her dissertation and wanted a fun, creative outlet from rigid academic writing. 

as-needed coloring was so effective that eventually a book and set of pencils became a “self-bribe” for completing a thesis chapter.

it also became a tool to combat her anxiety by redirecting her focus.  the action provides an outlet for nervous energy with a clear, instant outcome.   although it’s creative, the decisions are gentle and low-stakes, so you’re mostly out of your head.  in fact, it's a rare chance to rely almost completely on elbow grease.

but i found her unexpected perk most appealing.  sometimes when she’s anxious, she’ll remember pages she’s colored or the process of doing so and somehow just imagining (coloring) can be as regulating and calming as the act itself.”

naturally, there’s controversy about whether coloring is truly a form of meditation or mindfulness.   maybe it isn’t.  but it’s certainly meditative.  and as a devotee of the “whatever works” school of thought to reduce anxiety and stress, i’m not about to judge. 

here are recommended books to get you started:

less serious suggestions: