Find peace of mind with adult coloring, “Mandala Mondays”

Jackie Keating, Forum contributor

Recently, a healthy fad has taken American adults by storm, and the Oregon State University Craft Center is offering a weekly event to satiate it: coloring.

Coloring isn’t just for kids anymore (was it ever, really?). In a CNN column titled “Why adult coloring books are good for you,” author Kelly Fitzpatrick mentions how “the once-niche hobby has now grown into a full-on trend, with everyone from researchers at Johns Hopkins University to the editors of Yoga Journal suggesting coloring as an alternative to meditation.”

This comes as no surprise, since sitting down and coloring takes patience and concentration, and the bright colors and satisfaction once the page is complete can certainly be euphoric. Kelly Fitzpatrick notes that “just like meditation, coloring allows us to switch off our brains from other thoughts and focus only on the moment, helping to alleviate free-floating anxiety,” and that “it can be particularly effective for people who aren’t comfortable with more creatively expressive forms of art.”

If you’re feeling left out of this new hobby, don’t fret; the Craft Center is hosting Mandala Monday coloring days every Monday from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. For this free event, the Craft Center provides the markers, coloring pencils, and mandala coloring sheets. All you have to do is go to the SEC basement, sign in, and get to work.

Last Mandala Monday, on April 25, I spoke to Libby Yamada, who is a cheerful front desk staff member at the Craft Center. She was able to tell me a bit about the weekly event, and about mandalas in general.

When asked what a mandala was, she explained that “a mandala is a design–they’re supposed to be temporary sand paintings that the Tibetan culture uses to kind of express the temporary beauty of life.” And indeed, the traditional mandalas are both beautiful and impossibly temporary. If you do a web search for “Tibetan mandala,” image after image appears of the incredibly detailed circles, done entirely with grains of colored sand by Buddhist monks. According to the BBC, mandalas in Buddhist tradition “transmit positive energies to the environment and to the people who view them.”

However, since we are students and don’t have months of time and the patience to fill out a mandala with sand, the mandalas offered on mandala Monday are already-designed coloring sheets, ready to be filled with bright colors in whatever order you choose.

The event is a somewhat new one in Craft Center history, according to Yamada, but has the same goal as the ever-popular Watercolor Wellness Wednesday event. “Mandala Monday started last term as a stress reduction activity, so we have these pre-printed designs that people can come and color,” Yamada said.

The pre-printed designs include stacks of mandala set out in different themes, such as designs that focus on birds, flowers, and other animals, or designs that are more like kaleidoscopes. There are tons of designs to choose from, ranging from fairly simple to wildly detailed. It took me a fair bit to narrow my choices down to a single mandala, although students are by no means limited to a single coloring page.

“I think about ten per session [come to the event], but we do have room for more,” Yamada said about the students who attend Mandala Mondays.

If you want to relieve some stress as midterms loom and would like to take part in some relaxing art therapy, head down to the SEC basement on Mondays. The front-desk staff are always friendly, and you can color alone with headphones in, or bring a group of friends and jam to the fun tunes the Craft Center provides while you color. Either way, the event is a great way to take a breather from your studies this midterm season.

The opinions expressed in Keating’s column do not necessarily reflect those of The Daily Barometer staff.

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