Colouring in the Calm: What the Trend for Adult Colouring Books Says about Our Modern Needs


15791289The above book is currently the number two seller on Amazon right now. Its companion ‘Enchanted Forest’ is number 7. Both are also ranking top of the sales in Waterstones and Easons too. So what are they?

Well, they’re colouring books. Yes, colouring books, for adults – no joke.

And before you laugh, I have two myself and they’re fantastic. Why? Well the title of my current favourite (below) should give you a clue…

So we are back at that word again – mindfulness.

Mindfulness has been a massive success both in the corporate and ‘consumer’ spheres in recent years – a trend that has emerged in reaction to this busy and over stimulated world. However, if like me you are someone who goes to a buddhist retreat and just gets ironically stressed and highly irritated by the smell of incense and the talk of people ‘finding themselves’… you may even find a religion-free meditation method like mindfulness, a leap too far. Just another thing you (again ironically) ‘must get around to’ and ‘get better at’. (Argh, more stress!)

Colouring books however, don’t ask anything of you at all. You can’t fail at colouring.

The books give your brain the perception of ‘doing’ while actually what you are ‘doing’ is relaxing your mind and finding some calm… But I think this trend is a new step on from those ‘hand craft’ trends of cookery, painting or say gardening we’ve been seeing since 2009. Because for the first time, it also allows people who look at screens for a major portion of their day a place of retreat and creativity without expectation. That’s really important – to avoid our human tendency to make everything a damned competition. To be the best cupcake maker, the successful craft brewer, the most read of comic book lovers *cough*…

Consider for a moment, your own hobbies, past and present. How did you start them? Presumably to get a more balanced life, maybe meet new people. Or perhaps out of a passion or interest. Or because they let you ‘switch off’ for a while.

But how many of them went from relaxing activity to competitions at some point (even just in your own head)? Um, yeah.

As someone who went into ‘business’ but comes from a talented family of artists, writers and painters, I totally get that horrible feeling of expectation that the end result of creativity has to be something ‘amazing’. It does not.

Creativity for creativity’s sake is a valuable and thoroughly enjoyable pursuit.Perhaps more so, without the pressure of a physical output deemed ‘valuable’. Both the temporary beauty of the sand mandalas of the Tibetan monks and their destruction would certainly support this.

And the great thing is colouring meditation can’t ever become a competition – because no matter how ‘well’ any of us do it, at the end of the day all we did was colour in a picture!

But they are such pretty pictures…

Secret Garden is stocked in the Science Gallery, Easons, H&F, Waterstones and of course, Amazon. The Mindfulness Colouring Book is a great briefcase/handbag sized one. If neither of them are for you, I’m sure you’ll find one to suit your tastes amongst the dozens here.

Happy colouring everyone!

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