Monday, November 19, 2012

Step 11 Activity: Coloring Mandalas

Step 11:  Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with a Power greater than ourselves, praying only for knowledge of God's will for us and the power the carry that out.


  • Print out of a mandala or use a child's coloring book
  • Crayons or colored pencils or markers

What does it mean to meditate?

The word meditation may have originally come from two Latin words.  Meditar means to think, to dwell upon and to exercise the mind.  Mederi means to heal.  The sanskrit term medha, which may also be associate with the term meditation, means wisdom.

When we hear the term "meditate," most of us imagine a spiritual practice where someone is sitting down, with their eyes closed and attempts to empty their mind.  The goal of meditation is to relax, find an inner sense of peace and connect with a Higher Power.  I like to think of prayer as talking to Higher Power and meditation as listening to Higher Power.

The term meditation covers a broad range of practices, in the same way that the term sports covers a broad range of activities.  Yes, many people do meditate by sitting still in a quiet place and attempting to quiet the chatter in their minds.  However, other people may meditate by gardening, jogging, spending time in nature, listening to music or guided imagery. Any activity which is engaged in mindfully, free from a lot of mental chatter, may serve effectively as meditation practice.  For some people, a repetitive activity like washing dishes may be a meditation.

In Zen Buddhism, meditation done while walking is known as kinhin.  Meditation done while engaging in a simple task mindfully is known as samu.  Samu might include cooking, cleaning, gardening, or chopping wood.

For this 11th step activity, we will be performing a samu meditation in coloring mandalas.  The entire process from choosing colors to the gentle, repetitive motion of your hand on the paper can serve to quiet your mind.

The word “mandala” is from the classical Indian language of Sanskrit, which loosely translated means “circle.” However, a mandala is far more than a simple shape.  It represents wholeness, and can be seen as a model for the organizational structure of life itself.  Circles appear in all aspects of life: the celestial circles we call earth, sun, moon, as well as conceptual circles of friends, family and community.  In various spiritual traditions, mandalas are employed for focusing attention, as a spiritual tool, for establishing sacred space and as an aid to meditation.

Feel free to print out the mandala above.  Or there are an abundance of coloring mandalas that you can download from a variety of websites:

Here is a mandala I colored:

What do you think of coloring for recovery?  What other activities have served as a samu meditation for you?