Zentangle – The Art of Untangling a Tangled Mind

“Are you stressed all the time?”

“Do you need to let out your stress and relax?”

“Is there a need to improve hand/eye coordination?”

All of these and much more can be done through the Zentangle method. The Zentangle Method is an easy-to-learn, relaxing and fun way to create beautiful images by drawing structured patterns. This method can be used by anyone who knows how to write their name. It helps increase focus and creativity and provides artistic satisfaction with an increased sense of personal well-being.

Zentangling is a formalized process that was created by Rick Roberts and Mary Thomas. It is a specific way to draw images, most often in black pen on white paper. The traditional practice of Zentangling is done on 3 1/2″ inch square tiles made of special paper, but it can be done on any paper cut into squares or can be done on larger paper as well. The process of Zentangling may look very intricate but it is a very simple pathway to relaxation and focus. It is also called doodling with a purpose. Practitioners of this art form have given several benefits including calming an anxious mind, increasing self-confidence and creating moment to moment awareness in a similar way as mindfulness meditation.

How to create a Zentangle?

To create a Zentangle you begin with a pencilled frame and then draw a “string” through the frame to divide the box into sections. In each section you draw a repetitive pattern, called a “tangle.” The meditation comes both in the rhythmic drawing and in reflecting on your work afterward. Some of the characteristics of the Zentangle method are: Deliberate Stroke: In the Zentangle way, each stroke is done consciously and deliberately. When we draw each stroke deliberately, we realized that how these insignificant strokes contribute to an overall pattern.

Deliberate Focus: When deliberate strokes are being made, the attention is on the stroke and not on the final product that will be made. So this leads to increased focus on the strokes being made and not thinking about what the final pattern will look like.

Unknown Outcomes: The Zentangle method allows each person to discover new possibilities that is not anticipated when we begin with the art.

Abstract: A Zentangle creation is meant to be non-representative with no up or down. Since it is not a picture of something, creators need not be worried about whether they can draw a hand or a duck. It is just the different strokes that form a pattern and finally an abstract picture.

No Eraser: There is no eraser in life and there is no eraser in a Zentangle kit. However, in creating Zentangle art, one discovers that the apparent mistakes made can be foundations to new patterns and take one to unknown and new directions.

Gratitude: Gratitude is the foundation of zentangle art. Whether it is appreciating the texture of these wonderful paper tiles, becoming aware of the patterned beauty around us or thankful for the opportunity to put pen to paper, we always return to gratitude.

Inspirational: The Zentangle Method’s non-verbal language of patterns and proportions can open doors to insights which seemed locked before. Creating in a Zentangle way opens those doors, not because they were locked, but because those doors swing on non-verbal hinges. When you create in a Zentangle way you can enter a state of relaxed focus in which intuitive insights flow freely.

Ceremonial: Like in the Japanese tea ceremony, when zentangle art is being created, the person creates a personal environment of peace and harmony.

Portable: A Zentangle tile is 3 1/2 inches (89 mm) square. A Zentangle tile is designed to be completed in one sitting. A tile can be finished in as little as 15 minutes. Once the tile is completed, a sense of accomplishment occurs and more tiles can be completed in less time.


Zentangle Method is being used by many people for different objectives. Some of the benefits that people have experienced by practicing this method are:
• Relaxation
• Simple and quick access to mindfulness
• Non-verbal journaling
• Insomnia (improved sleep by creating Zentangle art before sleep)
• Self – Esteem
• Inspiration
• Panic attacks
• Modify Behaviour
• Being part of supportive community
• Nurture and develop creative abilities
• Relieve stress
• Improve hand/eye coordination
• Develop/rehabilitate fine motor skills
• Team building and group focus
• Therapy
• Anger management
• Addiction therapy tool
• Diet aide
• Increase attention span and ability to concentrate
• Home schooling
• Brainstorming
• Problem solving
• Design Inspiration
• Stretching and warm up for artists.

Personal Experience of practicing Zentangle art:

My personal zentangle story began in 2015 when a surgery to my ankle had me on bed rest for 6 weeks. As they say “an idle mind is a devil’s workshop”, the bed rest and immovability had my mind getting unwanted thoughts that needed to be put to rest. Since I was immovable and could not do much, I started exploring the internet for something that I could do while I am on bed rest. That’s when I chanced upon the Zentangle art. I first started reading about it and was intrigued to try it. So one step at a time, I started trying out tangles from the internet and felt very relaxed when doing it. I became so involved with this art form and realized that even a day without doing the art made me feel like I was missing out on something. Though I was out of bed rest and working along with taking care of my family, I did not stop doing the art as it gave me peace and helped me relax and have some time for myself. On further research, I found out that only certified teachers can teach the art. So I started looking out for a certified teacher and took a class with her after one year of practicing the art form. The class was a huge learning for me on the nuances of doing the art. It helped me better understand the art form and what benefits it can provide to me.

Practicing the art has helped me in the following ways:
• Relax my mind
• Anger management
• Reduce mental stress
• Live in the moment
• Not think about what has happened or worry about the future.

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