Keep Calm and Fold: Why Any Adult Should Learn Origami

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In ancient Japan, the art of folding paper — known as origami — was handed down over the generations through oral tradition. In modern times, it was made popular in the Western world by the works and books of Yoshizawa Akira several decades ago. Not only has origami gained mainstream acceptance as an art form, but it is also recognized as a valuable learning aid for children. Yet any adult seeking to pick up a new hobby might have second thoughts about the potential benefits of practicing how to fold paper. Here are some insights which might convince you to give this delicate craft a try.

Fold away your worries.

Among young students, origami is known to boost one’s ability to follow detailed, step-by-step instructions, improve spatial reasoning, and foster a collaborative learning environment. But even if you take it out of the classroom context, you’ll still find that it’s a wonderful practice for improving mindfulness.

Many people feel that today’s busy schedules — laden with distractions and starved of work-life balance — leave them increasingly prone to stress, loss of focus, anxiety, and depression. Of course, our friends and loved ones (and therapists) are a call away, but we usually resort to our support network for major crises. Mindfulness practices can help you get through those little struggles each day brings. Pick up origami as a hobby, and you can effectively meditate while on the bus or subway, folding away the receipts for your coffee and sandwiches.

colorful paper airplanes

Be open to mistakes and learning.

If you were looking to build your dream home from a specific design, you’d need to scout land for sale with the right dimensions. Then, you’d hire skilled sub-contractors who can follow directions and use the right materials to complete the project. In that respect, origami is like building a house as a DIY project. You can find plans in books or through online video tutorials, follow the instructions, apply the correct folding techniques, and know your material’s properties.

The big difference is that you’re free to fail — there’s no harm in messing up with a piece of paper. It facilitates learning, not only in terms of your origami practice but through the extension to your overall mindset. By embracing the process of making frequent, small mistakes, we can transform into continuous learners and acquire the quality of being innovative — something so much sought after in today’s world.

Take the practice further.

It may not take you more than a few dozen hours of practice to become competent at origami. While you can stay at this level and enjoy it as a mindfulness practice, you could experience further benefits by seeking to challenge yourself and improve your skill. If you’ve become quite proficient at folding paper into animals, try the intricate details of flowers or insects for a fresh challenge.

Attempting a new style of origami can also help you when you’re stuck on a particular design. And if you’ve run out of scrap paper or would like to take on a more ambitious project, try working with artist-quality documents, such as washi. These materials will require practice to master, but you’ll be rewarded with a finished piece you can proudly display at home.

Origami isn’t just a craft for children or serious artists. Even as an adult, you can dive into this skill, practice it on the go or in your spare time, and enjoy its many potential benefits.

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