The language of the unconscious uses symbols and colors as a part of its lexicon. The unconscious mind responds to colors emotionally. When you use color to consciously bridge communication with aspects of your self, it starts a conversation. Mindfulness coloring is being aware of your intent during the process while keeping your focus squarely within the moment.
There are no rights or wrongs. There are only feelings and experience. Whatever the outcome, in the simple process of coloring, different states-of-mind become accessed. [Tip: Simply switching the pencil to the less dominant hand in the coloring process will assure interesting adjustments.]
If I wanted to:
Bring more joy into my life, I would choose a yellow coloring pencil. I would either color my own Enneagram Type’s coloring page from “Dancing The Enneagram” with yellows and oranges, or I could color Type 7’s coloring page. I could also choose another page that has animals associated with happiness and joy, like the dolphins from the Peacemaker coloring page 18, shown above.
Here is a narrative demonstrating my mindfulness coloring.
To alleviate feelings of sadness, I would choose a palette of several colors and approach the coloring in stages, using the darkest first (dark blue, medium blue, turquoise, pink, yellow–with a surprise at the end). It’s important to develop a technique of using the side of a sharpened pencil to color a broad area and to lay down color with a light touch. The idea is to broadly go over the general area with the color, tracing the contours over and over again. The page gets darker with each subsequent pass as the color’s saturation builds up.
While your pencil is finding it’s path, it is imparting and picking up energy. Move your strokes to encompass more of the page. Give yourself permission to feel when you need to move on. Don’t get caught up in any desire to “finish” coloring any certain area. Leave it be for later, in a different coloring session. We are always a work in progress.
The point is, by first using light feathering strokes, you are able to layer two different colors together. Another reason you are using light strokes is because of the rhythm you create with the pencil strokes puts you in touch somatically with your deeper parts.
The beauty of the system I’m developing is that it by-passes the intellect. Having more to do with the intuition, there’s no need to process why, when, who, how–the only need is to watch the healing parts of yourself take over as you allow it. The healing works because we respond to symbols and colors on a deep, foundational level.
Acknowledge your sadness by choosing a dark blue color pencil (like navy or even indigo). Find the Peacemaker coloring page (18) and just color bits of the background, because sadness is always in the background. Do not color the dark blue all over unless you are treading very lightly. There are many color blues in the ocean.
The waters of the ocean you are coloring represent your emotions. Consider the ocean as different shades of blue and in using different blues, you are honoring the depth and complexity of your feelings.
Now, choose a medium blue pencil and begin coloring next to the dark blue, gradating it out. Using a light touch, feather out the edges. Use the same technique with a turquoise pencil and continue coloring lightly where the medium blue left off and beyond.
Whatever recent issue prompted your coloring session, the blues represent your acknowledgment of your sadness. You have every right to feel what you feel. You honor the Truth of your feelings. The blues, quite literally, lighten up. Turquoise, with its bluish-green cast, introduces a hint of healing into the image as you color with the pure hue. Know that you won’t be blue forever.
Still using the turquoise, work your way up to the horizon. Using the lightest of strokes, concentrate on the sky closest to the water. Ascend your strokes, ever so subtly out of the water, out of the emotions, and up, into the horizon. Your pencil is till close to the water, (probably still wet 😉 However, now you have more perspective. Before you lies the expanse of the ocean, representing the innate wisdom of your Emotional Intelligence.
Now, you are free to pick up a non-blue color. Choose pink. Pink is white added to red. As a warm, active color, you are introducing quiet action. Continue to feather the pink over and quite beyond the boundary of the turquoise. Continue filling the sky with pink. Notice, what happens when the pink gets merged with the turquoise. Your eye blends the two to create another color. Behold–the result is a shade of purple. It’s magic! By yourself, you have introduced purple, the spiritual color of transformation!
Look! What a sunny day it is. Like you did with the pink color, take out a yellow pencil (confidence) and feather over the pink, making sure to preserve some of the pure pink hue (for the sake of aesthetics).
Notice a beautiful shade of peachy orange becomes created when the yellow rolls over the pink. Orange is known for its gentle, warming effect. Totally opposite Blue on the color wheel, orange is considered to be an antidepressant color, which exudes confidence and joy etc… FIN
Only when and if you feel confident enough, you can end the session by taking a purple colored pencil and going over some areas within the dark blue of the water. Symbolically, you’re adding the power of transformation into the waters of your deep emotions, making it easier to get out of a funk. The purple is an echo of the sky-color you created, literally adding a little bit of sky into the deepest parts of your sadness.
I hope this technique gives you a better idea about how to approach the act of coloring as a tool for transformation. The approach may be gentle and forgiving, but it’s surprisingly effective.
The coloring page is from “Dancing The Enneagram” by Kate Finlayson and myself available here.
Thank you for your article! I hadn’t thought of how the colors may represent deeper parts and feelings of myself in this process. I can see how this process could open new dimensions within myself that have yet to be explored.