Zentangle and Mindfulness – when we need it most!

Somehow we’ve made it to November already. I have a hard time believing it. This year has gone by so fast – and so much has happened that I’m shocked to remember that some things were only a few weeks or a month ago.

And now we’re heading into a new season – one of traditions and excitement in normal times, but maybe fraught with hesitation, loneliness, and even sadness as many of those traditions will look different this year. It’s not ideal, but I for one am going to do what I can to make the most of it.

My creativity seems to have run dry, but I know it’s just a sign of the times. I’m a little worn out and a little stressed. So, I turn to my art practice for relief. Yes, even if my creativity is running low I still try to do creative things! They bring me comfort. And sometimes even just allowing myself to put pen or paint to paper will help me to feel creative again and get those juices flowing.

My Zentangle® practice also helps me to stay mindful. While there are a lot of things to be stressed or sad about, there are also things to be mindful of and grateful for. Air in my lungs, a roof over my head, food in my pantry, art supplies in the cabinet (and all over my desk), my doofy pup who can’t help but put a smile on my face, colleagues who are supportive, family to stay in touch with, friends to share a long-distanced joke with. These are things that I remember to think of when the day gets tough.

The Zentangle method gives us a great opportunity to hold a space to allow for this mindfulness. Right there in the steps we are directed to have “Appreciation and Gratitude”. This directive does not extend only to your Zentangle tile, but can also extend far beyond.

What if every day we challenged ourselves to apply the Zentangle method in our real lives? What would that look like?

  • Appreciation and Gratitude
    • Take a moment to express appreciation and gratitude for the things in your life that keep you going. Are you breathing clean air, drinking clean water? Are the clouds in the sky creating cute shapes? Are your favorite jeans fittings *just right* today?
  • Corner Dots
    • Maybe these are the bullets of your to-do list. Maybe it’s how many times you hit the snooze button before waking up (read: ME). Maybe they are just mental notes for yourself to remember throughout the day.
  • Border
    • Your daily schedule perhaps? Or just a reminder to hold space for mindfulness. A container to store your blessings and kind thoughts.
  • Tangle
    • Live life! Do the things!
  • Shade
    • Add a little oomph – add pepper to your steak, wear that bright pink top you’ve been ignoring in your closet.
  • Sign and Initial
    • Can you put your stamp on this day? Is there something you’re proud to have accomplished? Maybe some days this is making the bed, maybe others it is achieving a goal at work – it doesn’t have to be earth-shattering or profound to matter.
  • Appreciation and Gratitude
    • We’ve made it to the end of the day, so take a moment again to appreciate and express gratitude for at least one thing. Again, somedays you just might appreciate that you were able to find matching socks. No thing is too small to appreciate these days!

I don’t know about you. But I think that is pretty cool. We can take this wonderful method that we typically only use when we’re sitting down to tangle, and extrapolate it to the rest of our lives? I think if we’d all did this, it would have a pretty amazing impact on our lives.

So going back to being a little low in the creative-fuel tank. I have some things that I do in my creative world that help me to juice back up.

Once is so stupidly simple, yet it is so relaxing – I update or create my catalog of favorite tangles. I do this by using Bijou-sized tiles and doing little samples of each pattern I like to use. I’ll also throw a few patterns in that I don’t normally use just to force myself to try something new now and again.

Recently, I re-found this cool little flash card deck that is perfect for such an activity!

It’s great because I can enjoy watching the latest Netflix series with my husband (The Queen’s Gambit, anyone?!) or listen to a podcast or audiobook and do this at the same time. There’s no pressure to create something amazing, just a little sample reference to use later.

Another thing I like to do is to take classes when I can. Most recently I have taken Whimsy by Kelly‘s watercolor gem class. It’s not something I would normally do on my own, but it was a lot of fun and I hope to play more with it! I also took a class on Mid-Century Modern Tangles with Brian Crimmins–which was a fun way to learn about how some tangles look like mid-century modern design and we create a little ‘zine with them. I then participated in Julie Gibbons‘ free/yearly “Mandala Magic” 5-day workshop. I’ve taken her free workshop a few times, and each time I learn something new about myself and create something beautiful. I’ve also taken her year-long programs a couple of times, and they’ve been magnificent.

Learning from others helps me to keep my ideas flowing, but also takes the pressure of teaching off. You have to fill your cup, before you can pour it out, right?

If you’re feeling stuck or out of creative juice – take a class from someone else. Even if it’s something that’s not quite up your alley–try something new! You’ll be surprised how it might benefit you (maybe you’ll discover a new technique to apply to your preferred creative outlet!). You can see from the photos above that each of the classes I took was a completely different concept. And each one has benefitted my creativity in different ways!

So, here’s where my shameless plug comes in 😀 😀 😀 I have two class options coming up to round out the year, and soon I’ll release my Spring 2021 schedule (just waiting on it to be formally published!).

First, I have my Exploring Zentangle class starting next Tuesday, November 24th, 6-8pm CST. It’s a 4-week course of intermediate-level tangling. We’ll cover high-focus tangling, a Choose Your Own Tangle Adventure, tangling with 1 string on 4 tiles, embedded letters, and much more! It’s going to be a great way to slide through the holidays and keep that zen feeling all the way through! The class is held through Madison Area Technical College – but you don’t need to be in Madison to join since it’s virtual! Sign up HERE

I also have my Patreon live tangling sessions. The next one is this week, Wednesday, November 18th and we’re going to create some fun Harvest Mandalas! You can use whatever materials you have at home! The session runs from 6pm CST to about 8pm or so. Sign up here (if you would prefer to sign up and subscribe through PayPal – you can do that here). (there will be one more live tangling session in December, too! Dates to come!)

If you can’t join the classes, no worries! I do hope you’ll join me in living the Zentangle Method through the holiday season! I know it will help me stay mindful and present in the moment. And that can’t be a bad thing, right?

Let me know if you plan on joining classes or joining in on living the Method this season!

Cheers!

Sarah, Zen & Zin

*The Zentangle® Method is an easy-to-learn, relaxing, and fun way to create beautiful images by drawing structured patterns. It was created by Rick Roberts and Maria Thomas. “Zentangle” is a registered trademark of Zentangle, Inc. Learn more at zentangle.com.

One Reply to “Zentangle and Mindfulness – when we need it most!”

  1. Sarah, I like how you used the 8 steps of Zentangle and showed how to apply them into our daily lives. Very interesting and really makes me think about our lives in a new light. Thank you.

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