2018 began as a high stress year for us, beginning with my husband’s diagnosis of prostate cancer. In preparation for the radiation therapy he would receive, he underwent a procedure to place three gold markers in his prostate.
A few days later he developed an e-coli infection in his blood, which landed him in the hospital for three days. It could have been worse, but the hospital staff was on the ball, and started him on antibiotics immediately. Needless to say, my anxiety levels were on 24-hour alert.
Fortunately, I had developed a system for dealing with anxiety, as part of my regimen in handling my Parkinson’s disease. This is a simple system, no drugs required, consisting of Meditation and Mandalas.
My meditation is based on calming my mind and body with relaxed breathing and the repetition of two lines of a poem I wrote and use as a mantra.
Let It Go
I take a breath, I let it go
I feel the calm, I let it flow
I embrace the moment, I am still
I let gentle peace my spirit fill
I clear my thoughts, now is the time
To silence fears within my mind
I can cope with this I know
I take a breath, I let it go…
I will repeat this poem several times, and then, as I feel the calm flow over me, I’ll use the last two sentences as a mantra.
I enjoy all types of coloring books, but my favorite for calming my nerves and reducing stress are the mandalas. I have posted in the past about how stress-reducing it is to color. For years the only good coloring books for adults were available in museum stores. A few years ago, however, it was discovered how stress relieving coloring can be and suddenly there were coloring books everywhere – from bookstores to the check-out counters in grocery stores and pharmacies.
The word mandala means “circle” and they represent our connection to the universe. Coloring a mandala is a soothing process, and once I have completed coloring it, I can use it as a focus point in meditation. As I gaze at the mandala, I focus on the colors and patterns, and this helps me to clear my mind of fears and anxieties. When troublesome thoughts arise to distract me, I gaze again at the beautiful colors in my mandala and continue with my meditation.
Choosing colors for my mandalas is the artistic part of the process. I usually use 5 to 6 colors, and try to balance cool and warm colors, and a complementary or contrasting color as well. Then it is just a matter of coloring in the pattern. A color wheel can be helpful with this step. I find that Prismacolor pencils provide a rich, saturated finish. A good pencil sharpener is vital as pencil points must be sharp to fill in small areas. An interesting thing about coloring mandalas is that you really don’t know how it will look when it is done. As more and more of the pattern is colored, the image grows brighter and more vibrant.
The next time you have a lot of stress to relieve, give coloring mandalas and meditation a try. Thankfully, my husband is almost finished with his radiation treatment. and my stress levels have eased. Now I can color for the sheer fun of it, but I’ve worn some of my favorite colored pencils down to the nib. I’d better stock up because I just ordered 3 new mandala books from Amazon. It always pays to be prepared…