What is Mindfulness & How to achieve it?

Umeni Therapy – De-stress Coloring book

It’s a pretty straightforward word. It suggests that the mind is fully attending to what’s happening, to what you’re doing, to the space you’re moving through. That might seem trivial, except for the annoying fact that we so often veer from the matter at hand. Our mind takes flight, we lose touch with our body, and pretty soon we’re engrossed in obsessive thoughts about something that just happened or fretting about the future.Indulging in over multitasking. And that makes us anxious.

Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us.

Yet no matter how far we drift away, mindfulness is right there to snap us back to where we are and what we’re doing and feeling. If you want to know what mindfulness is, it’s best to try it for a while. 

While mindfulness is innate, it can be cultivated through proven techniques, particularly seated, walking, standing, and moving meditation (it’s also possible lying down but often leads to sleep); short pauses we insert into everyday life; and merging meditation practice with other activities, such as yoga or sports or the most popular & effective method of coloring.

When we meditate it doesn’t help to fixate on the benefits, but rather to just do the practice, and yet there are benefits or no one would do it.When we begin to coloring that page filling in colors as we interpret shapes & figures in your heads, it shifts our entire focus from whatever was on our mind to just this one page!
When we’re mindful, we reduce stress, enhance performance, gain insight and awareness through observing our own mind, and increase our attention to others’ well-being.
Mindfulness meditation/practice gives us a time in our lives when we can suspend judgment and unleash our natural curiosity about the workings of the mind, approaching our experience with warmth and kindness—to ourselves and others.

Without thinking twice, I would often pick up a pen and begin to draw shapes & color them on empty pages of my notepad at work. It was only after a couple of minutes that I sort of came to realize that “this is actually really therapeutic”. This is when I made Umeni Therapy

On the face of it, sitting there coloring in the hippos, crocodiles, sky and grass would seem kind of mindless for an adult but in practice it’s really mindful.
Therefore Adult coloring is really a thing, and it’s hugely popular.

Adults from all walks of life are turning to coloring books as a form of stress release, therapy and just plain old fun. But before you dismiss this colorful craze as “not your thing”, check out what researchers are saying about the power of art to improve emotional, mental and even physical health.

10 Big Benefits of Adult Coloring

1. Relieve Stress

Researchers have discovered that coloring activities help relax the amygdala – the section of the brain that is activated in situations where you feel stressed or scared.
Simultaneously, coloring activates the parts of the brain that support creativity. A study conducted in 2005 by Nancy Curry and Tim Kasser found that those who colored in mandalas reported drastically decreased anxiety levels.
This is especially useful for those who suffer from constant anxiety or experience anxiety as a side effect of disorders like PTSD or depression.

2. Exercise the Mind

As previously mentioned, coloring sparks brain activity and activates the parts of the brain responsible for creativity and logic.
Coloring is considered a good ‘mind exercise’ because it utilizes both sides of the brain’s cerebral cortex– an important system of control as it promotes motor skills and coordination.
When you color, you utilize the logic-based part of the brain through the choice of color or pattern. When you choose to pair or blend colors, you utilize the creative part of your brain. Coloring works out both brain hemispheres, so that’s a total win-win!

3. A Creative Meditation

Tried meditating the Eat, Pray, Love way and couldn’t get to grips with silent meditation? Fortunately, that’s not the only way to get centered.
Psychologist Carl Jung believed that coloring mandalas helped patients experience many of the benefits of meditation, like inner calm and self realization.
Jung believed that the mandala pattern was a representation of the intricacy of ‘self,’ and noticed that many of his patients would doodle circle drawings.
He used the idea and the practice of coloring to promote wellness among his patients, noting that creating and coloring mandalas symbolized “a safe refuge of inner reconciliation and wholeness.”

4. Thought Swapping – Replace Patterns of Negative Thinking

Plagued by worries about your bills, your health, your family or your future? All of the above? Coloring may actually help replace patterns of negative thinking with more positive ones.
The focus that coloring necessitates makes concentrating on issues very difficult, and often when people color, their negative thought patterns abate.
The negativity is replaced with more positive thoughts when ‘colorists’ react favorably to the pairing of colors and the creative pattern.
Neuropsychologist Dr. Stan Rodski explained that coloring elicited real neurological effects, stating: “We started seeing changes in heart rate, changes in brainwaves…the most amazing things occurred.”

5. Self Soothe

Learning how to control your body’s stress activation system (hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal system…phew!) is a vital component of mental and physical wellness.
Those who can influence how their bodies deal with trauma are much more resilient and have higher coping mechanisms.
Learning to self soothe during a period of trauma is essential to coping, and many are finding that coloring helps combat tough experiences without getting wrapped up in the accompanying emotions.
Researchers have found that coloring works in a variety of circumstances, one being debilitating illness.
A 2006 study by researchers at Thomas Jefferson University found that coloring and other art therapy was essential to reducing stress, anxiety and fear during women’s cancer treatment periods.

6. Make New Friends , Reduce Social Anxiety

That’s right. you can color and make new friends. Coloring has become so popular that coloring chapters are forming in some neighborhood and cities where avid ‘colorists’ are taking advantage of the phenomenon.
Though coloring is traditionally seen as a singular activity, these clubs seek to promote positive social interaction between members of the community, organization or even a family. It is a great activity to indulge in with all the members of your family.
It helps people to interact meaningfully with other people without the pressure that often accompanies social gatherings or family outings.

7. Walk the Middle Road for a While

Life today is a rat race of accomplishments, stress and competitions. This may be self evident, but coloring is a pretty low-pressure activity. There is no way to win, lose or even play the game.

Having an activity that takes the ‘middle road’, that is not reliant on a time limit, a ‘correct’ answer or a competition is freeing and can be incredibly cathartic and restorative after a long day of work or stress.

8. Encourage Yourself to Be Present

It’s no secret that people today are distracted more than ever. With all of the hustle and bustle of everyday life and the notifications that *ding!* constantly from our phones and tablets, it can be hard to focus when you really need to. Coloring to the rescue!
An art therapy student from Lesley University recently attested to the increase in coloring books in her university lectures to help students focus.
She noted that in group therapy discussions, those who have issues concentrating often do better with the aid of a coloring book, stating “we have several adult coloring books at my site to offer the clients.”

9. Build Mental Strength

We know that coloring books can help release stress in tough situations, but coloring books can also train our brains, making us more efficient, logical and mentally strong.
That’s right. Coloring can actually make you sharper and healthier. Leslie Marshall, a clinical counselor, states that coloring “opens up the frontal lobe of the brain- the home of organizing and problem solving – and focuses the mind.”
This can improve reasoning abilities as coloring gives the brain a chance to focus selectively. Additionally, psychologist Gloria Martinez Ayala notes that coloring is so efficient in activating the cerebral cortex that the pastime can delay or prevent illnesses associated with aging, like dementia.

10. An Easy Way to Relax & Have Some Simple Fun

Some may view coloring as frivolous, but when is the last time you sat down and did something just for the fun of it?
Coloring can act as your designated “me-time,” and also as a way to increase self esteem.
In fact, a 2012 study showed that participants in a drawing and painting class reported 80% increased confidence and motivation. Other studies have pointed to the role of art in positive self realization and self representation, as well as increased involvement in a community.

Over the past few years, coloring has evolved from a children’s pastime to a legitimate form of therapy and meditation.
 If you want to give it a try, check out this reasonably priced adult coloring book on Amazon! 

If nothing else, your life will be a little more colorful!
Happy Coloring! 💟💟💟💟💟

6 points to help you raise better kids!

What I see these days it scares the crap outta me!!! I mean like really!! I am referring to these kids of the age of 0 to 10years and their parents. It like a whole new world to me. For over a year I have been observing families around me like new parents or parents of young kids and somehow I am baffled each time I see them handling their kids. and this seems like a generation thing. I know many couples who have kept the idea of having children on the bench for a while, just so that they get over their fears before they get there.

In my mind I had decided quite early that I am going to raise my kids exactly the same way me and my sister were raised, because I have absolutely great respect and appreciation with the way I was raised. I also thought that all my generation friends are going to be on the same page as me.
But what I missed out was – the Big difference being we were fauji kids and these were civilian kids. I do know a few civilian families matching the same standards of bringing up and background but that number is very little. But hats off to those parents who maintain the right balance, eventually it shows in your kids.
I am not bragging about my fauji background I am rather trying to highlight the basic fact that despite having many struggles and hardships fauji families face they raised their kids very well, with enough love, care and guidance, without obsessing about them.

Parents & friends please do not take any offence with this post, treat it as rather a helpful document (if I may call it so) or just a note sharing my experience.

Below are my observations, hope you can derive the best outta them. I see parents make the following mistakes today, and it makes me wonder 20 years later will these adults be able to contribute to the society or their surroundings fairly, when their parents have probably missed out on teaching them the basic of survival, just because they were busy providing their child what they never got as kids. Its a tough job I understand but don’t make it tougher by avoiding some basic life lessons that can transform your child’s behavior and personality.

1. Are you treating your spouse like a child and your child like a spouse??: So this is a very common one, most often I see young kids hogging all the limelight at home and at public places. They are the center of attraction of not just the people around but also their mother and father who have already spent all day with them. The kind of attention and warmth a couple needs to have for each other shifts to the kids and somehow they seem to think that is the good parenting trait. And all the ordering, stern looks and harsh pointers are saved for the spouse. Whether at home or outside I see couples exchanging flat, maid like looks and comments to each other. Somehow If I saw my parents treat me and treat each other this way I would have never respected their relationship, and would have probably always asked them to choose me over each other. I am sure I would have also become way more attention seeking, always dependent and looked after kind of child. If you do this then it time to relook at the way you are projecting your marriage before your child.

2. Teaching the lesson of ‘respect’ too late: Respect is not fear, its a feeling of regard for elders, younger siblings, servants , house helpers, others choices and opinions, our national flag or anthem. However I often see parents saying before a 4 year old kid, that he/she is too young to understand this. Which I disagree to, completely. You do not have to teach your child that word ‘respect’ instead teach him the feeling or emotion behind it. and the earlier you start the better they will grasp and relate to it. Suddenly when the child is 8 and you want him to understand all of this, he may not adapt to it and have ways to avoid it. It should be an integral part of his bringing up.   If you experience this, pls take a step back and re assess your parenting model.

3. Lack of discipline: I see kids getting away with anything and everything like slapping their mothers, to crying and howling in malls and public events and a lot more chaos just to get what they want. Put their foot down for every random wish they have. ok I understand you don’t want to be a strict parent but you have to teach the child the ability to abide by some rules. some day he will have to follow it right?? At school, at college at work. if you get him so used to free will he will soon not value it. Don’t be harsh, but at least be firm about the things or habits unacceptable by you. Your kids need that, trust me. I see kids grown into adults who did not have a hint of discipline while growing up, and trust me they are not a happy and averagely successful lot!

4.Rewards & gifts: Why are parents of this age mixing the two? Your child has certain needs like clothes, education and food. Now gifts are what he gets on an occasion but reward is what he gets when he accomplishes something. If you want you child to be a start performer  or become a result oriented adult. encourage him with rewards. Set a target, if he achieves give him that toy. if he does not, make him strive harder. remember you are preparing him to survive in the competitive, hard adult life. Don’t let your leniency take away his ability to set goals in life and meet them as well.

5. Set them free: why are you glued to your child 24*7?? You love them we know but overdoing this bores him. Trust me when I say this, I have had kids tell me how they want to do things with their own age group. Also it makes the child hungry for your attention and in fact everyone’s attention. You are making him a center of attraction invariably wherever you go but someday when he joins school or college and he does not get the same response from others he may get disappointed or even devastated. Hence its important you step back and let him lead his life with his things to do. Not everything he does has to involve you all day.
But to cut the chase short instead of giving them experiences, parents are choosing to shower them with materialistic gifts that they soon get bored of. you know why?? because you haven’t gifted the child something he cherished, something that changed in for the better and made him feel like a winner. Instead of letting him play on that phone or that swanky digital toy, send him out, make him join a dance class or karate or whatever? Where he interacts, learns and feels like an achiever. Don’t home bound him just because you think so. You want to raise you child well, balance his routine. with outside games, activities, interactions with all age groups and recreation.

6. Last but not the least, don’t shut down opinions or feedback from people who do not have kids yet, they may be better at analyzing or understanding child behavior, which can eventually help you make your child a better person in every way 🙂