Saturday, 31 January 2015

A year of prayer: Reflections on Praying in Color

My intention this month was to spend time praying in colour, and if it should happen that I needed more structure I would use mandalas. Well, I guess I needed more structure! 

One of the things that I love about praying in colour or doodling prayer is the way that it can get you out of your head and into your heart and body. Normally praying in colour does that for me. Normally it helps me to shut off my brain and enter into a different kind of prayerful space. But this month, it didn't. This month I really needed mandalas in order to move out of my head, to let go of my thoughts. I found I kept wanting to write words, and the words led me to more thoughts. The simply movement of colouring in the lines was needed in order to let go.

One of the things that I began to notice as well, was that the more colour options I had open to me, the more difficult it was to let go of my worries or my need to process things cognitively. For a portion of the month, I only had 5 or 6 markers to work with, and none of them were really my favourite colours. So I simply worked with what I had, and I was surprised to find an increased sense of spaciousness within me. It became easier to let go of product and settle into the action of pen on paper.

I was also reminded of how much I have always loved colouring, particularly on good quality paper (this was a treat when I was a child since most colouring books in the 70s and 80s were made of a thin, smelly kind of recycled paper). I can look back on my childhood and recall particular colouring books that brought me joy, or the thrill of a brand new pack of pencil crayons. It seems as though colouring has always been an action that brought me back to myself and helped me to centre, long before I had words to articulate what was happening. The playfulness and freedom of praying with my hands through the action of colouring, doodling, and drawing has been a powerful discovery for me on my faith journey and continues to bring new life.

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