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When we refer to mindfulness, the first thing that often comes to mind is meditation. In this post, however, we look at “the art of mandala colouring” as a mindful activity, and how this mindful activity can not only reduce stress and anxiety levels but also activate the creative mind.

The word mandala is derived from the Sanskrit, which means “circle”.

This technique involves drawing geometric shapes within a circle and filling the shapes with colours

This art of drawing and colouring mandalas is considered to be therapeutic as it helps focus and allows to express creativity.

We have created a few mandalas as part of our mindfulness tools, ranging from simple to intermediate, that you can download for free from our website

Image to illustrate The art of Mandala colouring
Image: decorative

Why do we use this as a mindful activity?

Mandala colouring is used as a mindfulness tool. It is a form of art therapy that is soothing and nourishing. When focusing on colouring the intricate patterns the mind is drawn into a meditative state where thoughts are less interfering, thus improving focus.

This provides a break and respite from stressful and anxious thoughts that may otherwise have dominated the mind.

It also nourishes our creative side when we pick and choose colours to complement or contrast the design. It helps activate the right side of the brain and develop new neural networks.

How does mindful activity lead to blue sky thinking?

Every time we engage in a creative activity, we are activating the right side of the brain which supports “qualitative thinking”. This is the part of the brain that helps you see the bigger picture, make intuitive decisions, and visualize solutions to problems. These are all qualities that support us in a competitive corporate world. It is this creative thinking that helps leaders use blue sky thinking, which can help companies develop a competitive edge, and occasionally disrupt an industry.

Image Clear blue sky

How engaging in a creative, mindful activity helps the analytical mind .

Individuals who are analytical, logical, detailed, and numerical predominantly engage the left side of the brain.

There are times when the analytical brain can go into overdrive trying to find a solution to an issue, or being caught in what we call an “analysis paralysis” situation.

By engaging in a creative, mindful activity such as mandala colouring, you may be able to step away from the overwhelming thoughts and tap into the intuitive ability that helps compare and contrast data, thus coming up with a solution

The Challenge

To assess how the art of mandala colouring can help reduce stress and improve focus,  

a challenge that was set.

The challenge was to be able to colour the mandala art in 5 minutes. By setting a deadline to complete the task, the pressure of having to achieve a goal within a given time was created.

We observed the brain activity using Muse during this short activity.

The first minute is spent understanding how to use the colouring programme and select colours. Once this task is mastered you will notice the brain activity dipping into the Calm zone (1).  Then the brain activity moves to the Active zone (2), where the subject’s attention fluctuates, perhaps even wanders,  trying to figure out which colour combination to use. Next, activity dips into the Neutral zone, after having decided which colour combinations to use. This demonstrates the effect of taking quick, intuitive decision.  Next, we see re-entry into the Active zone (3), where the subject’s attention fluctuates when a mistake is made in filling the colour, however the subject is able to quickly recompose. This is represented when the brainwaves dip into Neutral zone, where the attention isn’t fluctuating. At the same time it is not deeply focused either, helping to quickly correct the mistake from a state of relative focus, thus, stopping stress from developing or going into panic mode.  The brain activity once again moves into the Active zone(4) when the subject realized that the deadline was fast approaching and was not sure if the task would be completed within the given time. Once again after a few seconds of stress, the subject is able to quickly refocus, which is reflected in the brain activity entering the neutral zone, and finish the task at hand.

Time taken to complete 04:58.

mandala pie chart

For the analytic minds…

Here are the stats 

  • 90% of the time was spent in the netural zone, where attention isn’t fluctuating too much, while at the same time it is not deeply focused either.
  • 5% of the time was spent in the active zone. This is time spent by the mind wandering, and when the attention was fluctuating. 
  • 5% of the time was spent in the calm zone. This is deep, restful focus and reflects moments when the subject is truly concentrated on the task at hand.  

Learning ourcome

This short example is used to show that cultivating a mindful activity can help an individual:

  • focus and quickly recover without going into panic mode when thing don’t necessarily go the way they are planned.
  • meet a deadline under pressure, without letting our attention fluctuate and getting caught up in the drama.
  • strategically thinking and recovering in a short time, which is so crucial in time of crisis

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photo of author
Meghana Millin
Mindfulness teacher & Reiki Master

Article Date 01-June-2021

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