Some use yoga to relax. Others meditate or exercise. But in central Ohio and across the country, a trend of adults coloring and drawing has begun to replace some methods of relaxation.

Some use yoga to relax. Others meditate or exercise. But in central Ohio and across the country, a trend of adults coloring and drawing has begun to replace some methods of relaxation.

Westerville resident Kathy Rausch is hoping to take adult coloring to the next level by incorporating the mandala, an ancient Indian symbol, into the process.

Rausch, 56, comes from a management and technology background. She owned Interactive Ink for 14 years before selling it in 2007 and now owns a Web development firm, TekMiss.

About 2000, she realized she wasn't as happy as she could be.

"I needed to find myself again," she said. "I was burning out."

When she saw a mandala design at a friend's art show in Columbus, she immediately was hooked.

She started taking mandala drawing classes, researching their history and doodling them in her spare time.

"I became obsessed with them," she said.

Mandalas are simple, symmetrical designs. They often incorporate flowers, animals or other motifs in styles ranging from precise to abstract.

The more Rausch learned about them and drew them, the more important they became to her.

"It's actually a really easy process," she said. "But I started thinking, 'Why are these so powerful to me?' "

Over the next several years, Rausch became an expert. She gave speeches on mandalas, did large projects and spread what she had learned to others, especially women in power who were looking for ways to decompress.

"Because I was in the business world ... the idea came to me that you need to teach this to businesswomen," she said. "People in our modern world are just burned out. So many of us are just lost."

But she needed more.

"I said, 'I love this and want to keep doing this, but I want to teach more people,' " she said.

So last year, Rausch released her first book, Activate Divine Creativity: The Life-Changing Magic of the Mandala.

In the book, Rausch shares her own experiences and advice, teaches mandala drawings and provides some for readers to fill in and decorate on their own.

A companion book, Activate Divine Creativity: The Life-Changing Magic of the Mandala, Mandala Doodles Coloring Book Vol. 1, includes Rausch's mandalas to color.

The books dovetail with the adult coloring book trend. Books are appearing on best-seller lists, and classes are popping up in libraries around central Ohio.

Even the Westerville Public Library has an adult coloring class.

Adult Services Librarian Kaya Burgin helped set up the program and said it's received a much bigger response than she expected.

"I already have 16 people signed up," she said. "It's a growing trend that we're seeing all around the country where people are getting into coloring. ... You kind of get away from technology. That's always at the center of everything. This is a low-fi way to relax."

Rausch agreed. She hopes those who are getting into coloring are finding some extra relaxation and a bit of an escape.

"It's not weird to meditate anymore," she said. "It's not weird to do yoga. You're not considered a weirdo anymore. It's opened us up to the process and importance of being mindful. Coloring is a perfect way to do that."

For more information about Rausch's book, visit activatedivinecreativity.com.

@ThisWeekAndrew