ZENtangle Art Therapy

Doodle Art

Zentangle is an easy to learn method of creating beautiful images from structured patterns. It was developed by Maria Thomas and Rick Roberts.

While the zentangle process may look intricate, it is a deceptively simple pathway to relaxation and inner focus. In fact, proponents of the practice note that it has multiple benefits including calming an anxious mind, increasing self-confidence, and cultivating moment-to-moment awareness in a similar way as mindfulness meditation. Here are some other benefits:

It’s Self-Soothing. Repetitive creative work, in and of itself, can be calming and self-soothing. In fact, some of the preliminary research on the Zentangle process indicates that engagement in the process has measurable relaxation benefits. This is particularly true if you accept this process as one with no expected outcome other than the enjoyment of putting the pen to paper and staying open to whatever emerges.

It’s Simple. Zentangle art only requires a black pen and paper; you can do it just about anywhere. I can attest to the fact that any airplane flight goes by more pleasurably when I am tangling. Look for things you can tangle on like business card, coasters and even newspapers [tangle right over the printed pages].

It Teaches How to Own Mistakes. Using a pen on paper requires that you risk making mistakes; in fact, most tangle art has at least some misplaced lines which cannot be erased. Tangling teaches you how to incorporate what seem like “mistakes” into the overall pattern of the design. It’s a great metaphor for everyday life—nothing is ever perfect, but how you adjust to imperfections [mistakes or the unexpected] in life is what really matters.

It Reinforces “Aimlessness.” Many Zentangle enthusiasts highlight the tangle doodle process as a form of mindfulness. I like to think of tangling as a form of “creative aimlessness.” Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh observes that we need to cultivate aimlessness in life rather than continually striving to be “number one.” For example, when we practice walking meditation, we are not trying to arrive anywhere in particular; in fact, if we stay focused on the future, we lose the joy of our steps in the here and now. The same is true of the process of tangling. If we get caught up in judgment and deliberation, we are not in the here and now. But if we simply enjoy the creative process, we can enjoy every single moment of it and that is ultimately what any creative expression offers us. Zentangle teaches us not to rush and to take good care of ourselves in the present moment—after all, the present moment is all there is.

Zentangle is:

  • beautiful
  • creative
  • easy
  • fun
  • relaxing
  • portable
  • simple
  • inexpensive

Zentangle can:

  • increase your focus
  • help you relax
  • inspire your creativity
  • improve teamwork
  • build your confidence
  • change your outlook

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