If 2015 was the year of colouring-in, 2016 is set to be all about origami. Rosie King discovers why the art of paper folding is the latest mindfulness craze
What used to be a fun way for Winnie Leung to spend time with her grandma as a young kid in Hong Kong is now being touted as the latest must-try technique for calming the mind and finding your Zen. And yes, with titles including Colour-Gami: Colour and Fold Your Way to Calm and The Book of Mindful Origami: Fold Paper, Unfold Your Mind set for release in the coming months, origami is ready to knock colouring-in right off its bestselling shelf.
“My grandmother taught me basic origami when I was only five,” Leung, president of the Sydney Origami Inc, says. “I loved it because it was something so incredible, manipulating a flat piece of paper to become something 3D. But it has grown from a childhood pastime to something much bigger.”
Origami, which originated in Japan in the 17th century and derives its name from “ori”, meaning folding in Japanese, and “kami”, the Japanese word for paper, traditionally involves turning a flat, square sheet of paper into a 3D object without using cuts, glue or markings on the page. Now, there are many styles to choose from, including modular (when you make a lot of little origami creations and turn them into one big piece) and tessellation (a geometric display).
Beginners will usually start by whipping up a boat, a crane or a frog but expert “folders”, as origami-makers are known, can spend years and thousands of folds working on a single origami masterwork. Robert Lang, a physicist, author and one of the best-known folders in the world, says the beauty of origami is in its ability to occupy your mind and disconnect you from the outside world.
“Folding is not something that occupies my hands while my mind wanders to other places,” Lang says. “It’s something that absorbs all of my attention and thinking.”
Lang’s most prized and painstaking
Source: guinnessworldrecords.com origami creation is a cactus that took him close to 100 hours and thousands of folds over seven years to complete.
“For me, origami has been both a stress relief and a cause of stress so it can be a double-edged sword in that way. But you can choose which side you’re on. People can find origami at the level that gets them into their zone. That is, challenging enough to pull them in but not so challenging that it leaves them frustrated.”
Dr Darryl Cross, a clinical psychologist from Adelaide, says that getting into the zone is exactly what mindfulness should achieve.
“Mindfulness is about being in the moment,” Cross says. “It’s an individual pursuit that allows you to become fully immersed so you’re distracted from outside influences, thoughts, emotions and stressors. It’s almost like time stands still when you’re doing it.”