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Monday, 22 October 2012

Meditation with children - mandala colouring



I've been thinking for a while about writing a series of posts about meditation with children, but was afraid you'd think I was some kind of smug child mental health expert living in a house full of candles and calm. Nothing could be further from the case.

The Coffee House throbs with anger and frustration. If we even open the windows a crack, we worry that the howls of stress and injustice will be heard several streets away. It's not the calm ones who need meditation most - it's people like us. The Lattes are a potent combination of pre-teen hormones and seven-year-old aggression. We're on a choppy sea, riding an incredibly rickety raft.


So let's start with mandalas. Tibetan monks take days to produce elaborate sand mandalas from millions of grains of coloured sand. The making of the mandala is a meditation in itself.

I'm not advocating filling your kitchen table with sand. But the act of colouring in is a great way of slowing down, both for children and adults. Setting the whole thing in the context of Buddhism not only gives you the smug satisfaction of having crammed in a bit of RE, it also means that your nearly-12-year-old doesn't kick off at the idea of colouring in a picture of fairies or farm animals.

There are plenty of free printable mandala colouring sheets online. Or there are books like these Doodles colouring pads, which offer dozens of pages of calm.

This beautiful time-lapse video from CNN (there's more about mandalas on their blog) is definitely worth a watch (it might just make you feel calmer without getting out the pencils!)



As an added bonus - see how quickly the mandala is swept away before being carried to a river! And so too our own crayoned mandalas can go - spreading their blessings throughout the world as part of our recycling. You need feel no guilt about putting it into the paper bin!

14 comments:

  1. So true, so true, so true. I keep meaning to get myself a colouring book, and by a "myself" colouring book I mean a "by myself" colouring book! But yes, felt tips solve many a war! Takes us a while to get works of precious art out of the house, though. Bit like small Macdonald's toys. Not that you've ever had any of those!!

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  2. I love colouring too. I have some lovely colouring books and pens but my daughter has stolen my pens and used up all the ink causing me to throb with anger and frustration which rather defeats the object.

    I used to love Altair designs when I was a kid and you can still buy them.

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    1. Pesky damn kids.

      In other news, the photo on this post disappeared. I've spent ages trying to get it back. Pesky damn Blogger.

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  3. My grandmother wrote the book 'Children's Art Through Meditation', and was very much into mandalas. Despite her best efforts, I never managed to produce any artwork, least of all a mandala. Perhaps even I could manage colouring one in! (I could possibly do with the calm)

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    1. That sounds a fantastic book! Is it still in print?

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    2. Er, No. It never quite made the bestseller list. (Good thing too, as it contains photos of a certain pre-teen grandchild pretending to meditate)

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  4. Never mind the children, I need to do some mandala colouring. And, breathe ...

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  5. If I did that, I'd sneeze three-quarters of the way through and it would blow away and then I would become CROSS. But it's lovely to watch other people doing it. In fact, watching others work is always very restful.

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  6. I am off to print these out NOW x

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  7. You're a star. Perfect timing. Off to print some.

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  8. This looks great fun, for adults as well as children.

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  9. My sister bought a battery/mains operated mandala designer for my eldest child. As with most toys of that type it was a lovely idea but trapped hair and fingers, caused tears and frustration, as the two older children fought over it. You inspired me to dig it out of the cupboard and put in some new batteries, I thought youngest might enjoy it during a grey half-term. He lasted about 10 minutes, preferring to draw and colour his own designs (eldest dislikes colouring books and middle hasn't ever really liked art at all) but I had a lovely time, thanks.

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