Why do I color?
You have probably noticed that some of illustrations in this blog are colored images. I have colored them all myself. So why do it? It might look stupid in the beginning, that’s how I thought of it: I am too old for this kind of shit….but it’s not just for kids.
It helps me to calm my mind and my racing thoughts, to deal with anxiety. It’s like a form of meditation; you become mindful. It’s quite relaxing. When I color I don’t think about anything else, I just enjoy the shapes and colors themselves. My artsy side comes out. It becomes addictive, and fun – yes it is actually fun. I am getting better at it. At the beginning, it was hard to distinguish and find same shapes, until I colored like 6 images, then I became more focused and started to see things more in detail. I was like: Wow! This is crazy, how many tiny details I wasn’t able to see before.
Each image is a tiny peace of art, and it does give you that little sense of accomplishment, which is so needed for me in the early stages of my recovery. Accomplishment helps me to build up my self-esteem, which is currently pretty much nonexistent.
It is addictive because eventually I started to feel each shape and color. The more I color, the better I get at being mindful. A side effect of this is that often I am extremely aware of how something/someone makes me feel at the present moment and where the feeling is coming from. It’s very useful because I don’t end up in a liquor store at the end of the day like I used to, without knowing why. (I am just starting to realize the reasons why I used to drink, besides the fact that I was addicted.)You can’t solve the problem of feeling whatever you feel if you don’t first know what it is and where it’s coming from. Mindfulness is the key for me to staying sober because I need to be aware of my thoughts and feelings before I can correct them. They are what cause me to want to drink so badly. It’s all in my head. If I can talk myself into wanting to drink despite all the terrible consequences, I can surely talk myself out of wanting to drink by using mindfulness.
Mindfulness isn’t easy to achieve. There are many different ways in which you can practice it, and coloring happens to be one of them that I enjoy in the process as much as I enjoy all the benefits that come afterwards. I see myself making it a lifelong habit. It’s one of the tools I want to keep using to help me maintain long-term sobriety.
How to color?
I started off just simply sitting down at my table, turning off all devices, and coloring in a quiet atmosphere. I won’t lie – it took some effort to do it the first time because my mind kept craving some kind of stimulation. I had never done this before, so I didn’t know what to expect. My ego was screaming “No! No! It’s not gonna work, this is stupid.” This was mostly due to the fact that I automatically seek activities that offer instant gratification, and coloring just didn’t seem to be one. It isn’t. It is much better, but it requires work.
Eventually, I found more than enough stimulation in the experience of coloring. In meditation they say you want to use all your senses to get the most out of the experience. I don’t necessarily think it’s a good idea to overload yourself, especially when you’re starting to color for the first time. You will be overwhelmed just by the enormous amounts of different shapes and all the possibilities of what colors you should pick. Remember, in mindfulness coloring there are no rules. The only rule is to try to be present at the moment. Focus only on one step at a time.
Four stimulations I eventually added for my coloring activity
- I lit a candle. I never knew the power of candle light while I was in the midst of my addiction. Of course, there would be times when I would have a candle lit when I was at the end of my drinking for the night. It was super dangerous. That’s how fires start. Once I tried to blow off the candle before going to sleep, and for some unknown reason I couldn’t, I don’t remember why, probably just because I was too drunk. I started panicking and I poured cold water in the candle’s glass jar. The whole thing blew up. I am so lucky that I didn’t start a fire, or burn myself, or that glass didn’t fly into my eyes. Anyways, I never tried the candle thing again till recently when I got out from rehab. I have to say, it’s relaxing, and it lends this spiritual aura that you can really feel. I continually use it as a way to tell my brain that it’s that time again, where I let go of everything and become mindful. It takes training and practice (don’t set out trying to do it, just decide to practice, because in practice you can’t fail) but I think my mind is getting used to what it has to do whenever I light up the candle. It’s becoming automatic, so I use it to help me focus while coloring, because you need to try be present instead of being in the thoughts of the past or the future. When it comes to candles, you have two choices, scented or non. I prefer non-scented, but I have a hard time finding them in the stores for some reason so I just use scented ones for now till I buy the ones I want on the Internet.
- Making yourself a cup of tea, especially if you’re coloring before going to sleep for the night or an afternoon nap. I really like herbal ones that have a different taste than usual teas. If it’s for the nighttime, I make an herbal tea that promotes sleep (like lavender). Coloring can really fuck you up and make you super relaxed, combine that with tea that promotes sleep, and you will have the best rest of your life. I swear! But choose a tea with a distinct taste, that’s important, because you want to let your brain associate all these little things with mindfulness and relaxation, so then if one day you are much more stressed out than usual, these little things will help you to get into the right mood of letting go. You see, it’s all about mindfulness. “How does the tea taste? What do you associate the taste with?”
- Incense sticks. I only use them if my candle is not scented. Don’t buy cheap ones, spend a little extra money on premium ones if you want to use them, because the cheap ones are very likely to make you sick, and I don’t think it’s very healthy for you. You want a natural smell, not a cheap fragrance. Incense sticks are for enhancing your experience, they’re not there to make your room smell good. When you breath in, you want to be able to smell something deep, and don’t forget to take your time to enjoy watching how the smoke flies in the air – that’s part of the mindfulness.
- I rarely do this, but there is an option to listen to some relaxing music, there’s plenty of that on YouTube, but I would suggest that the computer or whatever device you’re using would have the screen shut off, as you don’t want to waste your attention on it. Do not listen to the regular music you listen to, as it will bring up a bunch of feelings and emotions that you already associate with it. You want to keep your mind focused on one thing, which is coloring, and the stimulations that you choose to deploy as a supplement are there to enhance your experience. Listen to bird or ocean sounds, those are the best. I must admit that the reason why I don’t listen very often is because I have never achieved as deep of a relaxation and mindfulness level with it. I think can be just too much, at least for my experience level, which is beginner. The music or sounds could be a totally different mindfulness activity on their own.
My coloring style
As you color more and more, you will eventually develop your coloring style. Mine usually consists of starting with a red color, finding shapes that are circles, and filling them up with red. I use markers and I enjoy the feel of it. Plus it kind of helps me to organize the whole coloring page. I like organization. I usually seek out the same shapes throughout my coloring picture all at once. Sometimes I miss a few, of course. Obviously that’s a lack of focus, but it’s okay as long as I am making an effort to stay in the present moment. The other thing I enjoy while coloring is paying attention to how my coloring page becomes more and more filled up with all the different colors.
Since coloring is about mindfulness, here is a list of the colors I use and what they mean to me:
- Black. Black is associated with power, elegance, formality, death, evil, and mystery. Black is a mysterious color associated with fear and the unknown (black holes). It usually has a negative connotation (blacklist, black humor, ‘black death’).
- Red. Red is the color of fire and blood, so it is associated with energy, war, danger, strength, power, determination as well as passion, desire, and love. Red is a very emotionally intense color. It enhances human metabolism, increases respiration rate, and raises blood pressure.
- Blue. Blue is the color of the sky and sea. It is often associated with depth and stability. It symbolizes trust, loyalty, wisdom, confidence, intelligence, faith, truth, and heaven. Blue is considered beneficial to the mind and body. It slows human metabolism and produces a calming effect.
- Green. Green, the color of life, renewal, nature, and energy, is associated with meanings of growth, harmony, freshness, safety, fertility, and environment. Green is also traditionally associated with money, finances, banking, ambition, greed, jealousy, and wall street.
- Purple. Purple combines the calm stability of blue and the fierce energy of red. The color purple is often associated with royalty, nobility, luxury, power, and ambition. Purple also represents meanings of wealth, extravagance, creativity, wisdom, dignity, grandeur, devotion, peace, pride, mystery, independence, and magic.
- Yellow. It’s associated with joy, happiness, intellect, and energy. Yellow produces a warming effect, arouses cheerfulness, stimulates mental activity, and generates muscle energy. Yellow is often associated with food. Bright, pure yellow is an attention getter, which is the reason taxicabs are painted this color.
- Orange. It is associated with joy, sunshine, and the tropics. Orange represents enthusiasm, fascination, happiness, creativity, determination, attraction, success, encouragement, and stimulation. To the human eye, orange is a very hot color, so it gives the sensation of heat. Nevertheless, orange is not as aggressive as red.
- Brown. Brown, the color of earth, wood, stone, wholesomeness, reliability, elegance, security, healing, home, grounding, foundations, stability, warmth, and honesty, is a natural, neutral color that is typically associated with the seasons of fall and winter. The color brown is a warm color that stimulates the appetite.
- Lime. Lime, also traditionally known as lime green, lime-green, or bitter lime, is a color that is a shade of green, so named because it is a representation of the color of the citrus fruit called limes. It is the color that is in between the web color chartreuse and yellow on the color wheel.
- Berry. Have not found the meaning if you know it please email me or comment
- Turquoise. The color turquoise is associated with meanings of refreshing, feminine, calming, sophisticated, energy, wisdom, serenity, wholeness, creativity, emotional balance, good luck, spiritual grounding, friendship, love, joy, tranquility, patience, intuition, and loyalty.
- Aqua. Aqua (from Latin: aqua for water) is a greenish blue color, a variation of the color cyan. The web color aqua is identical to the web color cyan, also sometimes called electric cyan, one of the three secondary colors of the RGB color model used on computer and television displays.
- Tangerine. Tangerine is an orange color hue used to give the impression of the tangerine fruit. Just as there is a variety of shades of tangerine fruit, there is a variety of color mixes employed to give the impression.
- Magenta. The color magenta is one of universal harmony and emotional balance. It is spiritual yet practical, encouraging common sense and a balanced outlook on life. This is a color that helps to create harmony and balance in every aspect of life; physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.
- Navy. Carrying the blue symbolism associated with the darker shades of blue, navy conveys importance, confidence, power, and authority as well as intelligence, stability, unity, and conservatism.
- Olive. Olive green represents the traditional color of peace.
- Burgundy. Have not found suitable definition, please email me or comment if you know the meaning of this color.
- Marigold. The marigold is likewise associated with the sun – being vibrant yellow and gold in color. The flowers are open when the sun is out. The marigold is also called the “herb of the sun”, representing passion and even creativity. It is also said that marigolds symbolize cruelty, grief and jealousy.
- Plump. Have not found the meaning, please email me or comment if you know the meaning.
- Lilac. Have not found the meaning, please email me or comment if you know the meaning
- Pink. Pink, a delicate color that means sweet, nice, playful, cute, romantic, charming, feminine, and tenderness, is associated with bubble gum, flowers, babies, little girls, cotton candy, and sweetness. The color pink is the color of universal love of oneself and of others