Does anyone remember Doodle Art?
I had a fabulous one with a Greek Mythology theme when I was growing up. It was huge and took up half my bedroom wall. I used to love colouring in the different mythological creatures – often when I should have been revising – and discovering hidden patterns and objects within the drawing that had been put there for me to find.
I left my partially created masterpiece on the wall when I went to university; and whilst I was away it faded in the sunlight. Even though I was disappointed to throw it out; colouring over the drawing wouldn’t have been the same.
Doodling wasn’t something I saw as therapeutic or a conscious distraction at the time. Looking back though; that’s exactly what it was. It countered the weight of expectation to do well at school, which created anxiety in me from an early age.
A friend recently re-introduced me to ‘adult art’ and I was surprised to see a plethora of adult colouring-in books to choose from.
When I engage in this activity now I think of it as an act of ‘mindlessness’; given that my head is completely empty of conscious thought, whilst I’m colouring a seahorse pink and purple. I’m not thinking about how I feel in that moment; or about the vivid colours or the intricacy of the drawings. I am simply doodling and it allows me to switch off entirely. For 10 minutes towards the end of a hectic day, this is like therapy for me.
Mindlessness is perhaps easier to do than mindfulness; which is the flipside to this coin.
Mindfulness is a way of teaching ourselves to live more in the moment that we are in; to be present with whatever it is that we are experiencing.
Developing our ability to listen attentively to what others are saying is a worthwhile skill; even necessary depending upon your line of work. Learning to be fully present with clients, without any agenda of your own, is a competence looked for when we’re being assessed for our coaching mastery.
Mindfulness is a conscious act, routed in the present moment. We are choosing what we pay attention to as opposed to not thinking about anything at all; which is what happens when I have a felt tip pen in my hand.
The technical differences are not as relevant as recognising the choice we are making. It’s important that you do whatever works for you; and as a Coach that I do what works for my clients.
We tend to think of distractions as a bad thing; since they take our attention away from work or something else we feel we should be doing. And yet deliberate distractions are healthy; even necessary for our own sanity sometimes.
So, the next time you find your mind wandering, take a conscious ‘time out’ and decide whether to do something mindful or mindless; as you prefer.