by Juliana Serrano
In 2001 while I was as a student at Loyola Marymount University, I had the pleasure of meeting a Buddhist monk that was visiting from Tibet. He and I spoke for over two hours one afternoon as other monks were creating a sand Mandala in the atrium of one of the buildings. We talked about faith and religion – our similarities and our differences. And at the end of our conversation he asked me “do you meditate?”
I responded “no” and quickly and defensively explained that my work and school schedule was very busy and how active I was with my volunteer work, and, and, and. He ended our conversation abruptly by stating he would meet me again, some time, some place. I felt ashamed and embarrassed, and in the years that followed I tried different styles of meditation, several times. And, I never really connected to the practice. So, I just claimed it – I don’t meditate.
That is until this year when one of my best friends gave me a coloring book and colored pencils for my birthday. I heard “adult” coloring books were the new thing. I was a bit apprehensive. Could I really enjoy coloring (within lines) once again? After my first attempt – the answer was yes!
As I color, I am finding myself to incredibly focused. I am thinking strategically about the colors I choose for each section, and even which part of the design I want to color next. I find that the degree to which I put pressure on the paper as I color varies with my mood. When I am more relaxed, my coloring is softer in color and in strokes. When I am more tense, my colors are bolder and more rich.
I am completely concentrated on making the pattern look as beautiful as possible, and completely oblivious to what may be on TV, the radio, or if my phone just alerted me of a new text message or email. I can work on a piece for more than one hour and not even be close to done, so I contemplate what I will finish and leave for tomorrow. I muse about how I actually don’t want to stop. It is wonderful. I am finding so much joy in coloring and how this coloring is actually a meditation each day – a sacred time to think, reflect and be in peace – in a way I have never experienced before.