Your Yoga Sūtras coloring books just arrived in the mail and you are wondering to yourself—How do I approach coloring this sacred text? Or perhaps your finger is hovering over the ORDER NOW button and you are asking yourself—Why should I color the Yoga Sūtras?
The study of sacred texts has a long track record in human history. Religious and philosophical traditions throughout the millennia all have developed their own ways of approaching the written holy word. These texts that show up across cultures are not only read—both silently and aloud—they are chanted, sung, prayed over, and meditated upon as well. But why?
All sacred texts point to and express our understanding and interpretation—albeit limited—of the numinous, that phenomena that is ever-present, but mysterious and beyond our comprehension. The business of the sacred text is to make the je ne sais quoi ineffable more effable—music and poetry do a pretty good job of approaching it too. To me, anything that raises my vibration and aligns me to Source is sacred—I include my yoga practice here—but the text has its own resonance and its own appeal.
I like to think of coloring Patañjali’s Yoga Sūtras as a contemporary and colorful twist on an ancient technique of engaging with the text—it’s like a form of Lectio Divina, the Benedictine tradition of “divine reading”. Lectio Divina is a contemplative four-fold practice that includes lectio, the act of reading; meditatio, the act of listening; oratio, the act of prayer; and contemplio, the act of surrender.
Lectio is the active phase—I turn to the page that I want to work on. I choose colors and sharpen pencils. I read the text and begin to color letters and designs. As coloring ensues, I ponder the meaning of the Sanskrit and its translation, entering into the meditatio phase of listening and dwelling in the text. Here there is a shift from left brain exactitude to right brain intuition. As I drop into the rhythm of coloring, my mind settles and my breathing slows. At this point, the ego mind slips away and the wisdom of the heart opens into oratio, a prayerful absorption. It’s the beginning of the dialogue with the sacred text where I allow the words, the artwork, the colors to deeply move me. The simple act of coloring creates the space to travel deeper into the numinous quality of the Yoga Sūtras. Here contemplio happens, where I experience a profound restfulness where I come into contact with the Source behind and beyond the text. This is the place of transformation. This is the place of integration.
So how should I approach coloring the Yoga Sūtras?
The simplest way is to pick up a colored pencil and find out for yourself.