Can you remember being a child who loved to color or draw? I think many of us enjoyed our coloring books and Crayola crayons when we were young. Recently I stopped in a cafe for lunch and noticed a mother sitting at a table with a young child and an infant. The child was coloring so intently she seemed oblivious to everything going on around her. Her crayons and her paper had her undivided attention. I thought about how much I used to concentrate on my art projects when I was young, and somehow I thought about coloring myself... using a mandala.
A couple of days ago I found a downloadable mandala that I probably spent close to an hour coloring using a drawing program, pen and tablet on my computer. I spent a lot of time playing with different color combinations and different brushes... then I went for an evening sitting. I was amazed by how much more focused and attentive I was during that particular sitting.
[Click the mandala for a full-sized version you can print and color]
Just yesterday, I drew a picture of some bamboo then decided to add the quote to it that I posted as the daily digest entry on the 22nd. I could then print it and place it in my meditation space. I read it a few times slowly before I started sitting yesterday and again noticed how the combination of creativity and reflection seemed to prepare me a bit more for meditation practice. Download Picure (66.8K)
There is a long tradiition of including artistic pursuits as a part of meditation practice... from coloring mandalas to calligraphy to writing haiku. In today's digital age, we have even more options available... we could create a meditative scrapbook, a personalized desktop image or screensaver... the options are limitless.
This is just a suggestion, but you might try pairing your practice with some artistic expression just to see if it helps you to develop concentration and mindfulness along with your formal meditation practice.