Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Weather, colouring and Zen activities!

My friend Brendan who lives in Galicia has been posting pictures on Facebook of his two delightful children playing on the beach in the sunshine. Meanwhile we have been to the airport to collect a bunch of young Spaniards, Galicians, who are coming here to play chess. So we drove through the rain, crossed the airport carpark in freezing wind and waited for them to arrive. It must have been a bit of shock to their system to come out into that. 

Mind you, I reckon it was more of a shock to those people I saw arriving in shorts, tee-shirts and flipflops! I know none of us really wants the holiday to end but do such people not realise that April in Manchester is not the same as some sunny place with a beach? Maybe they had seen - and believed - an April Fools' Day weather forecast this morning. 

Tomorrow we will show the young Spaniards Manchester so I hope that the weather forecast I have just seen for fine but still fairly cold weather will be true. Some time ago I bought myself an adult colouring book, much to Phil's amusement. Lots of complicated patterns of plants and flowers and such like stuff. I found it very therapeutic, a splendid way of relaxing. I used to feel this when I went to painting and drawing classes. We all simply got absorbed in the task in hand and forgot about everything external. In those days I probably needed to escape stress rather more than I do now but the Zen-like quality still remains. 

I mention this because I found an article about that very thing - adult colouring books - in the newspapers online. They even had MY colouring book in their illustrative photo. Apparently in Australia, there are even groups who meet to colour-in together. It's rather like the knitting circle that have sprung up all over the place. I don't think I'd go so far as that. The whole point of the colouring activity is that you concentrate solely on that. You don't need to chat at the same time. Surely you lose the Zen thing! As for knitting circles, I am not really interested in them either. If I knit - or rather, when I knit - I do it while reading or watching television. If I want to go for a drink with friends, I go for a drink with friends. I don't need to take my knitting needles with me to justify my being in a pub 

However, it seems I am correct about the Zen thing. Here is a short extract from the article: 

"As adults we can be in danger of forgetting how to play. Play is crucial at all stages of life; it can be used to practise spontaneity and to relieve stress. It helps to maintain our brain function, whether through solving the problems involved with colouring in, or the social interaction of a board game. Play also stimulates the imagination, helping us to stay flexible and develops a playful state of mind that is useful when coping with stressful situations, such as breaking the ice with strangers

you I have no intention getting my dolls out! 

The doodling and colouring stuff, however, has been recognised as good for us. "A study was undertaken in 2009 to see if subjects retained more from a list of random names being read aloud if they doodled at the same time. The researchers had suspected doodling might help the brain to remain active by engaging its “default networks” – these are regions that maintain a low level of activity in the cerebral cortex when outside stimuli are absent. In a surprise quiz given later, subjects who doodled while listening to the list remembered 29% more of the names than those who didn’t doodle. And the doodling they were doing? They were shading printed shapes – in other words, colouring in." 

So there you go. Get In touch with your inner child as soon as possible!

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