• The toilet is a great mediation space if you need down time at the office. (Flickr)Source: Flickr
2015 has been a popular year for the adult colouring book boasting anti-stress properties. But you don’t need to put pencil to paper to practise mindfulness.
Shannon McKeogh

11 Jan 2016 - 1:24 PM  UPDATED 11 Jan 2016 - 1:35 PM

2015 will be remembered as the year we went crazy for the adult colouring book.

Eight of the top 20 books for 2015 according to Nielsen BookScan were therapeutic colouring books where you can colour away your worries. For only $16.99 you can buy titles such as The Mindfulness Colouring Book and The Little Book of Calm Colouring Book (pencils sold separately). 


Money-grabbing gimmick or clever anti-stress tool?

Matthew Young, Founder and Director of Melbourne Mindfulness Centre said that while good in theory, the marketing used for the books is gimmicky, “It is a relaxing thing to do but it can be achieved just as easily through a meditation practice”.

Anja Tanhane, Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction teacher, is a fan of the colouring book, especially for people who haven’t learnt meditation. “They often find it easier to have something concrete to do, which reduces stress.”

But whipping out your copy of Garden of Earthly Delights and a box of Derwents isn’t always possible when stuck in traffic, or when dealing with an irate boss. 

Eight out of the top 20 books for 2015 were adult colouring books.

The zen of adult colouring books
The craze of adult colouring books puzzled Julie Beck. That was until she tried it for herself.

Here are some simple, short and sweet mindfulness meditations that can be practised nearly anywhere and at no cost.


Find some down time in the office

There’s more than one reason to visit the loo at work according to Young.

“A number of people find the toilet as a meditation space great. It’s a private quiet space and you can flush out difficult feelings and thoughts. Someone wise once told me that there’s no point going to the toilet unless you’re letting something go.” 

Another meditation you may like to try is Tanhane’s mindfulness technique STOP:

Stop and interrupt your thoughts

Take a breath

Observe what is happening around you and inside you. What can I see, hear, sense, smell, feel? What am I thinking?

Proceed and reconnect with your surroundings and activity


Chill out in the car

Red lights can make us slow down in more ways than one says Tanhane.

“Every time you pull up at a red traffic light, take it as an opportunity for a brief mindfulness meditation.

Every red light is an opportunity to meditate - but be mindful you don't hold up traffic.

"Sit back in your seat, tune into your breath, notice if your shoulders or other parts of the body are tense and consciously relax them. Look at what is outside: trees, pedestrians crossing, clouds, buildings. Breathe in, saying ‘calm,’ breathe out saying ‘relax’.”


Take it easy on public transport

The daily commute can be squishy and uncomfortable. Using the easy five senses technique, says Young, can help bring yourself back to the present and, best of all, no-one needs to know you’re practising.

“Notice five things you can see, five things you can hear, five things you can feel. Then notice four things you can see, four things you can hear, four things you can feel. Repeat this for three, two and one.”


Breathe with your bub

Young knows that busy parents are incredibly time poor, which is why his suggested meditation below is incredibly practical as it doesn’t require you to set aside time, and can be weaved into your daily routine with your bub.

“While feeding and nursing, pay attention to the breath of the baby, rising and falling. Then pay close attention to your own breath, it will synchronise with the baby.”

Time-poor parents looking for a timeout? Mediate with your baby.

Make mindfulness a habit

Young says that where people go wrong is that they don’t practise the techniques enough to form a habit.

“You need to create triggers that will remind you to practise. Using places as a trigger is one way to do this.”

It may require a little more effort than putting pencil to paper, but this form of mindfulness is one that will outlast any trend.


Matthew Young runs courses and teaches at Melbourne Meditation Centre, Anja Tanhane runs courses and teaches at Mindfulness Meditation.

Images: cat by Cavale Doom (Flickr); colouring books by Lea Latumahina (Flickr); dog by Matt Deavenport (Flickr); baby by Premasagar Rose (Flickr).

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