Thursday, February 28, 2013

Mandalas: Coloring as a Form of Meditation for Children and Adults

Image by the Morales-Franco Family

Even before I conceived my son, I was concerned about how I would teach my children the skills that would support them in stress-management. I am convinced that there should be courses that begin in pre-school and continue throughout high school that teach children about how to best manage emotions and stress. In fact, it would be ideal to teach parents so they can be more supportive with their children and kinder with themselves.

When I started looking to create a bed time routine with my then two year-old, I wanted him to be exposed to the tranquility of meditation. But how do you teach meditation to a two year-old? Well, I remembered that art is a form of meditation for many. It was for me during a difficult part of my life. In general, activities where people feel completely present and at ease can become a form of meditation. I have friends who relax when they clean their house while others enjoy running as a way to center themselves, for example. So, taking all of this into consideration I want to share an ancient way of meditating that incorporates art and can be a great tool in practicing being in the present moment: Mandala Meditation.
A mandala is a circle containing repetitive designs or patterns symbolizing wholeness, which help create a sense of tranquility. Anyone can create their own Mandala focusing on a particular theme and use words, images or colors to represent it. There are books of mandalas that can help in meditation while observing the finished image. When I was at my previous workplace, I had access to mandala coloring books and colored them in my office as a way of centering and relaxing myself.
There are mandala coloring books for children and adults. I decided to look for mandala coloring books for my son and found a couple. We would listen to soothing music or sounds of nature and color mandalas together. Drawing and sharing quiet time was soothing not just for my son but for me also. It allowed us to have a peaceful practice that brought us together. We stopped after a few months because he is very energetic and went through a phase of not wanting to color, but I have recently reincorporated the practice for the whole family. My husband, son and I color and breathe together.

I will be writing more about our experience with this practice and what differences I notice in the family dynamic. Currently I am preparing a mandala meditation for my weekly Saturday Meditations and I feel really excited about it. I will also share the attendees experience with this centering practice. Just like with almost any other form of meditation, it is important to remember that everyone can do this. If it sounds appealing; a pen, a blank piece of paper and a few deep breaths is all is needed.
- Tania Franco

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