When you think of a coloring book, chances are you picture something for a child. But coloring books designed for adults are plentiful. In addition to the nostalgic feelings they may evoke, coloring books are great tools for meditation.

Many of the meditative coloring books available include images of mandalas, similar to those used by Tibetan monks for meditation and healing. The mandala, which means “sacred circle” in Sanskrit, has been used a part of sacred rites in many spiritual traditions. Some traditions believe circles encourage inward focus, which may partially explain the use of circles as meditative tools in the form of labyrinths and mandalas.

Like labyrinth walking or eating meditation, coloring meditation is an active mediation. The repetitive nature of coloring allows you to focus on what you are doing and let other concerns melt away. Whether you are deciding which color to use, or trying to stay within the lines, the act of coloring encourages you to stay present in the moment. Even if your mind wanders, the space you are coloring will become filled and you will need to make a choice –  do you want to change colors or color another space with the same hue? In that moment, your mind is brought back to the present, much like returning to your breath when you find your mind wandering during sitting meditation.

If you’d like to give coloring meditation a try, there are lots of free printable templates available online that you can find by searching for coloring meditation. You can use pastels, markers, colored pencils, or the childhood classic: crayons. Begin with a few calming breaths and when you feel ready, pick a color and get started. Instead of using a timer, simply color until you are done. Take a few minutes to observe your finished work and note any feelings that arise.

Pictured Above: Mandala Coloring Book available at Buddha Groove. Click here to view.