For those of you who are new to coloring to meditate who are making new muscles, or for those of you who have arthritis or other health conditions that make your hands hurt:
Hope of less or no pain while coloring exists! Here are some helpful tips, and questions to ask yourself: Watch the video, then read.
1) How strongly am I gripping the writing instrument I’m using? Yes, some people hold them in a death grip without realizing they are working extra hard. This tires their hands. By paying attention, you can learn to loosen your grip, and be present in the moment to pay attention is what coloring can do for you. One thought that makes people hold on tight is worrying about making a perfect letter, especially if, like me, you failed handwriting in fourth grade, or maybe never had a class about handwriting at all in school. Remind yourself that coloring to meditate is not about perfect marks or letters. Remember, God is merciful and enjoys this time of quiet with you.
2) How firmly am I pressing the writing instrument on the paper? Sometimes pressing hard gives great color, when using either markers or pencils. The same effect can be used by moving slowly with markers or repeating a stroke over and over in the same place with pencils. Pressing lightly also helps your writing instruments last longer and lessens the number of times you must stop to sharpen pencils. A wind for your hands and for your pocketbook.
How am I holding the pencil or marker or pen? Try the classic three finger grip or the multi-fingered grip as shown in the video embedded beside this post. You may be more comfortable with one or the other. By changing your grip, you will rest certain muscles and develop others.
Here they are, rated from easiest to use to harder to use, based on the amount of pressure needed to make a mark ranging from none to a good amount.
Felt tip markers, gel pens, Derwent or Faber Castell pencils (very soft), Prismacolor Premium pencils (still soft), Rose Art or Crayola colored pencils, Verithin or Scholar pencils (all waxier and less soft than the other colored pencils – two differences in addition to pressure – they last longer, and they hold their pointy tip longer because they are made with a harder material for their lead).
What if you like pencils and dislike markers? You are not alone! Many prefer pencils because they erase and they are more precise. If your hands hurt excessively, try very fine point markers such as those used in the video above and if you hate mistakes, color from lighter colors to darker colors, so that the mistakes can be covered. Another way to cover marker mistakes is to use touches of gel pen over the marker because the gel pen ink will hide the marker colors.
Type of mark you make rated from easiest to most difficult
Dots, Cross, Pressure stroke, Circles, Triangles, Squares.
Here’s the reasoning: Dots are a touch. They can be used by the sorest person, and with markers have the beauty of getting bigger just be leaving the marker in the same place for a long time! Straight marks, like those used to make a cross, are easiest. Remember to press lightly. Pressure strokes can begin with light pressure and then have it lessen by lifting. The lifting is a use of wrist and hand muscles that may be new for you and cause discomfort as the muscles develop. Each time you must stop the writing instrument to change direction abruptly, muscles are being used that may not be accustomed to that movement. Therefore, all the geometric shapes with angles may cause you extra work. Your muscles only protest until they get strong enough, and then you will be coloring with ease.
Persist through difficulties, and realize that if true quiet prayer were easy, we would all do more of it!!! Also, know I pray for you and that I hope you will offer a prayer for me. Most importantly, be gentle with yourself if distracting thoughts persist. Keep refocusing on God. Stop and read the words, if needed. Needing to see His words, or wisdom of the saints as I worked was a big part of why I developed Coloring Meditations for a Full Life, the Retreats, and the activities on trips. I pray they may be as useful to you as they have been to me! For spontaneous coloring with vocal mediations, see my live or recorded videos on the Facebook Art2Pray group or on the Art2Pray Instagram. Blessings.
Please feel free to comment below about anything you have found to help you continue to color in comfort. Visit the Art2Pray Facebook group for the mysteries of the Rosary and the contest built around them. Open until the end of January, 2018.