Zentangle Untangled: Inspiration and Prompts for Meditative Drawing, by Kass Hall

Many people remember doodling in the margins of their school notebooks (never while the teacher was talking, of course). My biologist husband doodles while he is on the phone, drawing  fish and insects on any scrap of paper he can find. Unlike my husband, I have very little talent at drawing, but I like to doodle flowers and stars and write random words in swirly calligraphy.

Kass Hall is a CZT—Certified Zentangle Teacher—who helps people unwind and relax by a similar kind of creative doodling. “Zentangle” is the name for a concept created in 2005 when calligrapher Maria Thomas described to her partner, a former Buddhist monk, how relaxed and focused she felt while creating background patterns on a manuscript. Her partner recognized these feelings as a meditative state, and they worked together to create a system whereby they could teach others to experience this relaxing state of mind.

Hall’s book contains twelve Zentangle patterns which she and other CZTs have found to be calming and enjoyable to create. She stresses that these patterns don’t belong to anyone; most of them derive from the natural world. Any pattern created over and over, arranged symmetrically or in some satisfying way, can induce this Zen-like state of calm. Her own and others’ paintings and drawings of zentangles exemplify the concept and beautify the book.

I decided to try drawing zentangles on the embossed borders of some blank cards that my artsy daughter bought at the Scrap Exchange. In black ball-point pen, I drew whatever came to me (it didn’t need to be realistic, after all). I found that it was most satisfying to me when I drew the same thing, or a mirror image, on the opposite border of the card. Then I colored my drawings lightly, using inexpensive water-soluble markers. Before I knew it, I had about 20 of these cards spread out across the table, and I only came out of my Zen-like state because my hand was sore!

Drawing such patterns seems to help us enter the state that author Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi has described as “flow.” This is a state where we are deeply focused but relaxed, totally involved but allowing ideas to flow through us at the same time. Drawing zentangles was fun and relaxing for me. Check it out and see what you think.

Find and reserve this book in our catalog.

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