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

Sunday Mail - Body and Soul - - FRONT PAGE -

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: guin­ 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.”

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