Updated 1 year ago

Why adults suddenly buy pencils

I’ve always been intrigued by mandalas. They’re just gorgeous to look at. I’ve watched monks creating them out of coloured sand, a process that takes several days and left me deeply impressed. I think I can’t even fully grasp the determination, dedication, perseverance and patience that’s required (but then monks are somewhat experts at all those things).

It wouldn’t have crossed my mind to try something similar myself – not even with colour pencils (I won’t even talk about sand – it takes years to master this art). I mean, come on, me? I’m someone who mentally writes to-do-lists and grocery lists during “meditation”. I know. It’s awful.

But then my local corner bookstore changed my mind. They have a huge pile of colouring books, many of them with drawings of mandalas. If you’re not familiar with colouring books, they’re the most recent fad. It’s a tool for busy people who feel nervous about the term “meditation” or anything that sounds vaguely spiritual, or for people like me who struggle with meditation, and who need a “tool” to tame the mind.

These books do just that. You buy one, get yourself a box of colour pencils (this will make you feel like you’re going back to school!) and off you go. If mandalas aren’t your thing, there are colouring books featuring outlines of cityscapes, gardens, flowers, animals, iconic places, outlandish architecture, famous tapestry patterns, oh, and there’s even the (believe it or not) hipster colouring book.

Does it work?

Yes! You won’t even realise that you haven’t checked your watch for hours, that you’re hungry, that there were a million other things you wanted to do (for me, that’s typically those things I think of during “meditation”).

Colouring brings my mind to a standstill. It quietens my mental chatter. It’s wonderful. Strangely enough, it’s called “art therapy” for adults, but why should colouring books belong in the self-help section as soon as they’re not for kids?

There’s nothing more relaxing than bringing some colour onto the page – and into your life! And maybe the sky doesn’t need to be blue, and the sun yellow, and the grass green.

Maybe just here, on the page, we can allow ourselves to create a world that’s a little bit different, a little bit crazy, that’s totally unique – our creation.

Have you tried colouring books? Did you like the experience?

BY ANDREA LEBER