What is Mindfulness & How to achieve it?

Umeni Therapy – De-stress Coloring book

Mindfulness. 
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! 💟💟💟💟💟

Can we Cultivate positivity?



Hearing about so many young boys & girls trying out suicide as an option because of stress, of different levels, makes me feel horrible!
Hence this post has been on my mind for the longest.
What is Stress? And why do we succumb to it so easily? In today’s time have we made it difficult for ourselves to nurture & nourish our minds with positivity? Are we missing the whole point of life here? Do we know how to cultivate positivity?
It is strange but true, that we live in a world which is extremely self consuming. Be it the internet, the social media and the technology, they were all created to make our lives easy & more entertaining. But we have rather chosen to be driven by these, and depend on them heavily. Social media, mobiles and many other mediums were created to share thoughts & stay connected with people. Perhaps, today that is not the only role these mediums play.
With the increasing competition and the race of ambitions anyone is bound to feel lost and defeated. There are times when each of us fails, whether it’s the most influential person in the world you know of or your peer at work or school. There are also times when life fails us at a personal level in the form of a grave illness, death of a loved one or anything unfortunate which we are not prepared for. Eventually some are able to get over it or are able to take it in their stride, whereas there are some who just cannot come out of this zone, they get stuck in the spiral of negativity which comes with these situations. They repetitively ask themselves why me? Instead of solutions they tend to focus on the problems.
I am no guru or pandit, neither do I want to be a philanthropist. I am just a regular person in this big world, just like someone you meet at your work, school or neighbourhood. I am one of you and because of that I am sharing my experience that can apply to anyone & everyone. With all the hard times I have seen in my life, all the failures & successes, I am sharing a simple step by step guide to combat this negative process and rise above this all to enjoy a quality life. Primarily cultivate positivity!
Step 1: Accept yourself
When something unfortunate happens to you or something difficult arises in your life, Step back, sit down and accept this willingly. By accepting I mean realising that this has already happened and you can do nothing to undo it. You may have failed, or lost a loved one or been through something miserable, but remember none of us can go back in time and change it. Not you, not me, not even god.
There is a saying about Lord Ram – he was the ultimate lord of his times, people called him the best leader, the best son, the best brother, he honed all the qualities for a great ruler as well, but could he escape hardships?? No!! The day he was supposed to be crowned the emperor of his kingdom, he was awarded with a 11 year exile punishment instead. Imagine his disappointment; he was thrown out of the kingdom he was supposed to rule. Then his wife was kidnapped (by Raavan) and he went through a line of struggles get her back & to live a regular life. You must wonder if he was god, he could easily undo all of this and live a life as per his desires. But did he?? No! why?? Because there is no learning in that! He learnt a great deal with each of these hardships. He accepted them like a challenge, he found a way to come out of these and prepared himself better to not let that happen again.
Don’t waste your time in thinking Why me? That will make no difference. It was meant to happen this way, but now what you do about it going forward makes all the difference. Accept your inner strengths & weaknesses and accept the situation gracefully. As they say, with acceptance comes the learning.
Step 2: Prepare yourself
We need to accept a situation as is, prepare ourselves to develop a temperament to be able to handle hardships better. It is not a skill one is born with, it is a skill we develop and master over time.
Meditate, pray, read positive books, do gardening, yoga or do anything that infuses your mind & body with positive energy. Refrain from complaining & cribbing it does the maximum damage. Practice kindness it does wonders to our minds & souls. Help people however you can. It will undo all the good you have done so far in positive thinking. This is work but it’s worth it; after the first initial times which will be hard & unusual, for the days to follow it will become a part of your life. Like we spend time getting ready for a party or an event, or a festival at home, we must also prepare our minds for the good & the bad times that we may have to encounter in life. Nurture your inner being. It doesn’t matter how old you are it is never too early or too late to develop a positive mindset. Do this yourself and encourage others to do it too.
Step 3: Detox often both your body & mind
Every religion has a practice to abstain from things you generally like for a stipulated time, ever wondered why. Well my reasoning is it’s a simple exercise for our mind & body to function outside our comfort zone; because that is where the real learning comes from. We regularly get sucked into the mundane, routine life and become comfortable with it. Hence a slight change in this settled mindset, throws us off the hook, and this is that exact point where stress creeps in. To be able to handle stress better. Detox from things or habits you are addicted to. It is tough to first accept that you may be addicted. It can be a video game or facebook browsing or even eating junk food. Spend some time to identify what your addiction is, once identified start with a detox plan, it could be a short duration plan based on your ability to handle this detox. It helps you create a better version of yourself. After this you can go back to step 1.
I will conclude with this belief that we have one life, which is so precious, please try out all other ways to fight depression & stress before you even think of even slightly harming your life. If all the other options don’t work try them again & again & again. Because no matter what the problem is, giving up should not be an option!
My book UmeniTherapy is just a small attempt to divert your minds to positivity through creative Destress Coloring. If you are feeling low or stressed, this is something I request you to try, after all this is the least I can do to ease your troubles.
Stay blessed!