Learn something new everyday: / relaxing
Between the craze of new books spanning from Go Set a Watchman to Paper Towns (before the movie comes out), there is still one book—with much less writing—that is still hitting Amazon’s top-selling charts. And this book has nothing to do with reading; rather, it is the adult coloring book rendering beautiful intricate creations of The Secret Garden.
Johanna Basford, the creator of this coloring book, is slaying book preferences from her hand-drawn pictures of flowers, garden scenes, and other peaceful nature settings, selling 1.4 millions copies worldwide so far. Basford’s idea of a coloring book just for adults is hitting home with some other creators too, such as Millie Marotta’s Animal Kingdom and Richard Merritt’s Art Therapy Colouring Book.
Part of the desire to jump back into coloring books as a grown adult is the meditation and therapy aspect that art can provide for many people. In these books, someone does not have to become frustrated with their lack of talent in an art therapy session. Rather, the drawing comes to life through their careful color choice and creativity for each piece. In some of these books, the backgrounds are already colored in, and it is left to the creativity of the drawer to fill in the rest in books such as Creative Therapy. When Basford was questioned about why the coloring books were so successful, she said, “a blank sheet of paper or an empty canvas can be daunting, but a colouring book acts as a bit of a buffer in this situation.”
The relaxation and therapeutic aspect to these coloring books has revived a new importance and appreciation of drawing or coloring, for its creativity, zen, and anti-stress abilities are needed in adults and in children together. These drawings encourage colorers to focus on the whole photo instead of individual pieces and parts of each drawing, inspiring us to think of our lives in much the same way.
At the DREAM Charter School in New York, students have been partaking in belly breathing, meditating, and other calming exercises to develop mindfulness. This seems difficult to understand: though meditating has been proven to be helpful and calming, how does it relate to getting a better education? Shouldn’t these students be focusing on math, reading, and writing? Wrong. These students are working on increasing their mindfulness, or their focused, nonjudgmental awareness of the creative world around them.
Students are still learning their basic subjects, but taking time out for meditation is built into their schedules for the day. Since most schools, at any level, are considered to be a stressful environment, the meditation times give children the chance to calm themselves and clear their minds so that they can better focus on their studies for the day.
This method is also beginning to be applied to work settings as well, especially for big companies like Google, Safeway, General Mills, and Aetna. The reason that mindfulness workshops are becoming so popular is because high stress levels cost American companies around $200 billion to $300 billion a year, simply from less motivation to be productive when one is stressed. Having mindfulness sessions decreases levels of cortisol, a stress hormone, and only after 3 consistent days of meditating, you can change your psychological stress. Mindfulness also boosts creativity and focus, which is great for work settings.
The CEO of Aetna commented on the great effects that mindfulness training was having on his employees. They reported having better sleep, less stress, and more productivity in their week. They gained about 62 minutes of extra productivity per week, and Aetna has made $3,000 more per year from the employees.
Though mindfulness gives students or workers a window into their thoughts and stressors, it is producing lasting effects in the way that people are retaining information, applying themselves, focusing, and being more creative and innovative in their workplace. Taking time throughout our days to self-reflect and relax for 20 minutes may have seemed like slacking off, but now, those breaks might become more encouraged because of mindfulness.