“Mindfulness is conscious, moment-to-moment awareness, cultivated by systematically paying attention on purpose.”
– Jon Kabat-Zinn
Researchers investigating the benefit of Mindfulness added that it is not simply enough to deliberately pay attention, what is vital is how you pay attention, and explain that “the attention must embody compassion, impartiality, and acceptance of self and others.” (1) Applying the combination of these allow you to experience what is happening right now with non-judging awareness, compassion and gentleness.
So how does Zentangle relate to Mindfulness?
The above descriptions embody the key concepts of Mindfulness. The Zentangle method uses these concepts in such a way as to make drawing an enjoyable, relaxing way to create a positive space for your brain to recharge.
Mindfulness concepts used in our Zentangle classes include:
- Not being judgmental of your own, or others’ work.
- Not assuming you can’t do it. In fact, Zentangle shows most people they can!
- Not striving to create an artwork. Instead, the intention is to be entirely in the moment, watching the ink flow from the pen. The aim is to be mindful while drawing, not creating the artwork itself. The artwork is more of a side-effect, and is a great way to celebrate the time you spent being in the present moment.
Although there is no expectation of improving, many people find they become more proficient with practice.
- Being accepting of your drawing as it is right now. Whether you are stressed, your lines are wobbly, or perfectly straight – either is totally fine for right now.
- Being patient with yourself, and those around you. No matter whether what you drew is what you wanted to draw, or not. No matter whether you were faster – or slower – than anyone else. Self-patience and acceptance are key to coming out feeling refreshed.
As a Certified Zentangle Teacher, I will emphasize these elements throughout the lesson, while directing the class’ drawing, in a warm and relaxing environment. And! You get to take home a rather radically cool piece of artwork.
What if I want to learn more about Mindfulness?
Cool! UMASS have a fantastic program called Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR). I have taken this class and found it immeasurably helpful in dealing with the stresses of daily life. There are some great MBSR teachers in the Bay Area. My teacher is Renee Burgard, at Palo Alto Medical Foundation.
1 Shapiro, Schwartz, Bonner. Effect of Mindfulness Based stress reduction on medical and premedical students. Journal of Behavioral Medicine, Volume 21, No. 6, 1998.