As I mentioned in my last post, I am leading a mindfulness group on social media. I posted a short mindfulness activity this week. Inspired by an article about adult coloring books posted by my friend and fellow blogger, Yvonne, I developed a simple 5-10 minute long mindfulness exercise on coloring. I provided a link to free coloring pages for those that did not have their own book. Adult coloring books are popular right and there was some enthusiasm among group members for doing this exercise.

The instructions for the exercise were to engage in coloring for 5-10 minutes, with the goal of staying engaged, non-judgmental,  and in the present during the activity, noticing sights, sounds, and tactile sensations as well as thoughts and emotions during the exercise. Although I wrote the instructions for the exercise, I did not complete it myself until a couple of days later.

I love art. I have yet to learn how to draw or paint. I even took a self-directed course designed for people to whom drawing does not come easily. I did well until the exercises advanced to the point when I had to learn how to draw three dimensional scenes rather than line drawings. This was one of the early lessons. I still have all of the art supplies necessary to complete the course. In general, I have amassed a lot of art supplies. I have used most of them for various craft projects.

A few months ago, I bought a couple of adult coloring books. The patterns were mesmerizing. I love colored pencils. However, I’d worn my beloved colored pencil collection down to nubs. I decided to buy new pencils. I looked online and drooled over the possibilities. I ended up buying a lot of colored pencils. Like A LOT a lot. It was actually five sets of 24 that I bought. Yes, that’s 120 pencils. Well obviously with that kind of pencil population, I also needed a case in which to store them. My dream was that I would have a case that would allow me to see what I had while I was using them and keep them organized.

My dreams were realized with the purchase of a zippered multi-section pencil case that holds 120 pencils. I spent a couple of hours unwrapping and sorting those pencils by color. This, in and of itself, was a mindfulness exercise. Here they are in their color-organized glory:


Yes, I realize that the photo is a bit out of focus. It is hard to focus when I am drooling and misty-eyed over the beautiful spectrum of my colored pencils.

Oh wait, did I mention that I can not yet draw a lick? Though it is true that I have used pencils for craft projects and that I used to use them often, I had not done any colored pencil related crafts in some time, maybe at least a year or two. Maybe even three years. I bought a couple of adult coloring books and waited for inspiration. I waited for awhile.

I was eager to do this mindfulness exercise. I had my case of 120 colored pencils and a barely used coloring book full of glorious flower patterns. I got out my materials and set a timer. I looked at the page. I looked at my colored pencils.

I don’t remember mindfulness meditation having so many choices!!!!!! What now? I was a little overwhelmed but I connected with my breath and chose a flower. What now? Then I chose a pencil and I started coloring. What now? In the middle of the 15 minutes I had allotted for this exercise, my family walked through the front door. They started asking me questions and giving me greetings. Can you believe it? Did they not know that I was trying to be one with my coloring?

My mindfulness exercise was full of decisions and interruptions but I kept taking my mind back to the exercise, listening to the sound of the pencil rubbing against the paper, feeling the pressure of the pencil against my fingers, and looking at the combination of colors that emerged on the page. As I worked, despite the interruptions, my work became more organized and less overwhelming. I felt more grounded just seeing that something had happened to which I had connected.


I picked up my camera and took a photo of my work.  It popped visually off of the page just like the flowers that I encounter and photograph on my walks do. I am not always mindful, but when I am, things come to my full attention. Sometimes this means seeing something clearly sticking out from the background.

As Jon Kabat-Zinn, the founder of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, says, “mindfulness is not doing, it is being.”

Now what?

Now can be sloppy. Now can be imperfect. Now can be an interruption. Now can be painful. Now can be joyful. Now can be peaceful. Now can be sweet.

Now what? Now is what.

What else can there be?