Bringing Women Together
For about the past eight years, I have been running mosaic workshops for small groups of women (and from time to time, children). My workshops cater for those at the beginner and intermediate levels. The workshops attract women with a desire to create something for their home, garden or as a gift for a loved one. Whilst the women learn new skills, the workshops also provide women with an opportunity to meet other women. It is a way for women to come together for a shared experience. But there is something deeper happening here.
At the start of the workshop, there are the usual introductions and some chatter, but as the day wears on, the women become very quiet. The reason for this is because they have become so engaged and engrossed in their individual projects. Time and time again, over the years and during the course of these workshops, I have heard the comment, “this is so therapeutic”. It seems to come as such a surprise for the women working alongside each other, who have often met for the first time. It appears an unlikely and unexpected benefit of this type of workshop experience.
Having heard the “this is so therapeutic”, comment so many times, it has come as no surprise to me, that colouring books for adults, which seem to have almost emerged overnight, have gained rapid widespread popularity. They now appear to be among the best-selling books in Australia.
Colouring books for adults are not only popular, but also omnipresent. They are displayed en masse with so many choices of styles and designs. I can find them taking pride of place in my local book shop, art shop and newsagency. They are also to be found, near the check-out at the supermarket, tempting me as they sit alongside my favourite chocolate bar. The inner-child in me wants to throw herself on the floor right there at the check-out and have a massive tantrum because she can’t decide between a Mars Bar and the Colour For Me adult colouring book.
So why are these colouring in books so popular? It appears that there is more happening here than meets the eye.
I recently listened to an interview on ABC radio featuring Dr Stan Rodski, who is a Neuropsychologist and Neuroscientist. He is also a creator of several adult colouring books designed for anti-stress. It seems many Australians are turning to these and other colouring books for adults, as a way of relieving stress and anxiety. According to Dr Rodski, the colouring process is a great form of relaxation for many. It seems to be also a simple means of escaping the digital world.
Dr Rodski, made mention in the interview, that he had been treating patients effectively with the colouring method in cases where traditional relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing and meditation had not been beneficial. The benefits of colouring can be measured by the changes in the rate of the heart and of the brain waves.
The technology is now available to measure the changes that are taking place in the heart and brain. During the colouring process, the heart rate and the brain waves slow down, resulting in the alpha state of consciousness being achieved. This is the normal resting state of the brain and the much needed state to maintain balance and well-being. (You can find more about Dr Rodski research and his colouring books by following the link below.)
So back to the mosaic workshops and why do I think that they prove to be so therapeutic?
In many ways working with mosaics, at least the way I see it, is a combination of colouring and putting together a jigsaw puzzle. Mosaics looks quite simple, but although not a difficult activity to master, it does take more concentration than might first appear. Workshop participants can follow a book or pattern, but I encourage people to work more intuitively.
I basically encourage people to more or less feel their way when working with their piece. I believe that in working in this way, workshop participants discover that the therapeutic experience kicks in. It is at this point where participants are fully engaged in the creative process but are also in a very much relaxed state.
I will make a suggestion and guide people if they are stuck in the workshop, with the use of colours or design, but there is really no right and wrong way. That is the beauty and simplicity of mosaics. The way in which I mostly assist in my workshops, is to give advice on the cutting and the use of the appropriate materials, including the substrate, sealers, adhesives, grout and additive so that a completed mosaic project will see the distance. This is especially necessary when the piece is to be placed outside, where it will be exposed to the natural elements.
My upcoming workshop is a Mosaic Mandala Workshop.
I am not sure why, but I have been particularly drawn to mandalas. I have also developed a deep interest in the Native American medicine wheels and their medicine bags. All three are tools which share a commonality in that they have been used for rituals, insight, protection, healing, harmony and balance.
Perhaps for me, the interest I have developed, is a natural progression from the life coaching and personal development workshops I have been facilitating this year. The actual inspiration for this workshop came from a good friend of mine when we were having a discussion about these particular things.
In my next post I will touch more on the use of mandalas and on the upcoming workshop, but for now I would make the comment that the pieces I have seen being created in my workshops, to date, have been beautiful and unique. I am convinced, however, that there is much more going on than just plain aesthetics. There is a calming, mindful and relaxing effect very much happening behind the scenes.
There appear to be more benefits to creativity than can only be appreciated on the surface. This is purely based on my own opinion and in my own experience. I have no scientific evidence to support this claim and the benefits of taking part my creative workshops, is based only on my own anecdotal evidence. Whether it be a birdbath, table top, garden pot, stepping stone, plaque, house number, mirror or frame being brought to life with mosaics, I do however, firmly believe that there is more happening than merely meets the eye.
www.colourtation.com Dr Stan Rodski’s colouring books and research
Clare, I love what you have written. Colouring in is one of the first activities we teach our children and then as we grow older we seem to dismiss it because it is childish or we just don’t take time out to relax. One of my friends was recently in hospital having major surgery because of breast cancer and another friend bought an adult colouring in book as a gift for her. This really made her day. Both my adult daughters have bought these books too. It is lovely to see my daughter colouring in her book and her three year old daughter colouring in hers. I think it is wonderful that you are combining your skills as a coach with something as therapeutic as mosaics. As you mentioned the combination of colouring in and jigsaw puzzles to create something amazing, whilst relaxing and happy within a group environment would be something I think a lot of us would love to do.
Thanks for taking the time to comment Colleen. I am enjoying combining coaching and the mosaics as art therapy. The aim of the workshops is for the women attending, to not only enjoy their day, but to learn a new skill and to take home a lovely handmade piece to treasure for years to come.