Personal Development

Creative Meditation: Zentangles and Coloring Books

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I have noticed a curious phenomenon emerging in the last year or so. An increasing number of friends and fellow bloggers have been engaged in drawing zentangles and/or filling out adult coloring books. It fills my feeds with beauty, and I had a feeling that these practices were well worth my friends’ time. They are all so busy that adding something new into their already hectic schedule is a pretty big deal.

It turns out that both creating zentangles and coloring have been, for most of my friends, either an addition that opens up more time or a way to enhance something they have already been doing. A couple of my friends have found out that, when done daily, creating zentangles or coloring have helped them clear up their mind, increasing the efficiency with which they perform their other daily tasks. This has not only helped decrease their overall stress, but many mentioned that these tasks have once again become a source of joy rather than a tedious burden. Similarly, those of my friends who integrated either of these two practices into their daily meditation mentioned how much more potent that time has become. One of them creates zentangles as a meditative process right before she journals. Without it, her overactive brain refuses to let go of any of the thoughts swirling around. Another friend turned to coloring as a way to relax before saying her evening prayers as she couldn’t focus enough to read anymore after the arrival of her third child. She reflects on her day while coloring and the quality of her prayers has increased.

Little surprise, then, that I was curious to know more about both. The zentangle method is basically fancy doodling in the repetitiveness of the patterns that are put to paper, but more artistically so in the deliberateness that shapes it. I know a lot of people that can only focus in class if they doodle, and I am wondering what zentangling (did I just create a word?) could do for them in the long run. While there are zentangle kits available, anyone with a piece of paper and a pen can start putting together their very own piece of art.

In a (very) recent New Yorker article, Adrienne Raphel explores why adults are buying coloring books for themselves. Turns out that the intricate and sometimes really sophisticated black and white drawings (check out Johanna Basford’s Secret Garden: An Inky Treasure Hunt and Coloring Book) could be part of an adult escapist phenomenon, where adults want to revert back to a simpler time or, more pessimistically, adults wanting to take the path of least effort. But at the same time, there are some recorded stress-relief benefits to the practice, enough to warrant giving it a try. Plus these colouring books can be stunning.

There are a lot of very simple ways to re-centre in an increasingly hectic life; I have previously discussed the easily accessible benefits of journaling and mantras and shared some advice and resources on how to use both. Bringing in another form of creative meditation will no doubt come in quite handy to those who think in the form of images. If you’re interested in giving either drawing zentangles or coloring a try, I have put together a Pinterest board of zentangle ideas and techniques, as well as inspiration on how to color your own Secret Garden coloring book. And as always, I would love to hear from you at saharsblog (at) gmail (dot) com!

Images courtesy of Amazon.

First published on Sahar’s Blog on 14 July 2015.

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