Art is everywhere: the therapeutic kind, the fun kind, and the nonsense kind too. Everyone is either doing something artistic for fun and displaying it on social media for personal gratification, or creating and selling their handmade art projects, or dazzling everyone with their over-the-top talents.
One of the trends that picked up like fire in dry hay was coloring circular Indian patterns called Mandalas. This type of art – or coloring it, at least – got the whole world hooked: practicing it, showing it off, talking about it, analyzing it and more. People talked about their mysterious effect on our stress level, somehow proving it scientifically, or spiritually, or whatever. I really didn’t bother reading about the idea behind them so much, as much as I enjoyed their impact on me.
Generally, I like to analyze how I feel about anything I’m doing and check how it affects me. This one was no different. Besides my mere love for art in general, I was really enjoying coloring one after one of those mandalas (and other patterns), and after some self-reflection, I came up with a few reasons why I love them. You might relate to those reasons and you might not since the effect of arts on us is totally subjective. But I can see at least a few heads nodding in agreement and some eyebrows rising in revelation (yes, I like to imagine things):
- Finishing Fast: I am one of those people who hate pending issues, unfinished business and incomplete projects. I’m either guilty of not finishing them or frustrated because they’ve stopped for some other reason. Unlike most of our life projects, these pieces of art start and end pretty fast or whenever I want them to. I can work on a very simple pattern and give it several days, or get engrossed in a very complex one and forget myself till I’m done within a few hours. Even if I don’t finish one, it’s a conscious decision to leave it as is – because I’m bored for example, so I never feel guilty.
- Letting loose: Perfectionism is the route to all evil. Ok, so maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration but really, this “virtue” I have has cost me a lot. I never quite get anything done, or even start anything in the first place if I’m not sure of its every detail and know that it’ll come out the way I want it to – perfect usually!
I don’t have that feeling with mandalas, at least not anymore. I just jump right in, pick up colors as I go, and not care much about symmetry or having a perfect outcome. Yes, I love making fancy color coordinations, but if I want to improvise and get out of the expected color pattern, I do. This took some practice on my side, sort of forcing myself to let go of the perfection syndrome. I believe I’m making some nice progress.
- Right kind of break: As someone with ADD – for real – I tend to get sucked into visual things much more than other people. If I decide to take a break from work and go on Facebook or Instagram or the likes, the intended five minutes could easily drag into 30 minutes or more without me even noticing. It’s best for me to take some sort of kinetic break, move around a bit or do some exercises; but I’m a real panda sometimes. So..
*The coloring gives me the break I need without dragging too much. Since I’m the one creating the distraction, moving my hands, choosing colors…etc, it’s easy to stop at any minute whether switching between colors or as soon as I complete a certain part, I simply decide that the break is over and get back to work. I’ve tried it a lot and it gives me the mental break that I really need instead of filling my head with random stuff like social media does.
- Mini achievements: Striving for greatness, or being obsessed with success and achievement is another tiring aspect of my life. Because even though I know success is relative, and it’s more about the journey and happiness and all those lovely words, I still can’t help but feel disappointed at the state of being a work-in-progress.
Starting and finishing a mandala art piece and being proud of the result no matter how trivial my contribution was (after all, I’m just coloring here) gives me a tiny, yet comforting, sense of pride that gets me going for a while. And since I’m really good at picking colors, sometimes the outcome is frame-worthy and I can put it up in my room and brag about it. Vanity never killed anyone, did it?
- Boredom-free guarantee: I can’t even begin to explain how quickly I get bored of things. I have so many unfinished art projects and hobby-related things, not to mention hating any routine of any kind.
Thanks to the Indians’ innovation of their mandalas and allowing the whole world to pick up this art frenzy, I now have endless patterns, shapes and sizes to choose from. I can never get bored, or feel like I’ve been coloring the same thing over and over again. This is a wonderful guarantee that I can keep doing this activity for a long time!