Doodling: the art of meditation

Doodling your way to a Zen state

Mandalas, Zentangles, adult colouring books: they’re everywhere.

Meditation enhanced by art. It’s not new, but it’s one of those things – you notice it once, and then you see it everywhere. You couldn’t enter a store this past holiday season without walking past a rack of ‘adult’ colouring books (and no, not XXX-rated; think elaborate gardens and underwater scenes.)

Search Goodreads or Indigo for “doodling and meditation” and you’ll find more than enough Mandala Colouring Books and Zentangle Techniques to keep you calm and Zen-focussed for days.

Mandala means ‘circle.’ It represents wholeness and unity, and has long been used for meditation purposes. Zentangles, on the other hand, are a relatively new art form, created and patented by Maria Thomas and her husband Rick Roberts in 2004: repetitious patterns and designs that are meant to focus your mind as you draw them and free you from whatever is currently bothering you.

But does it work?

Kabat-Zinn wherever you go there you areHere at The Brave Art Lab, we’ve been talking recently about meditation with some of our contributors. Mindfulness Meditation in particular, and Jon Kabat-Zinn’s book Wherever you go there you are. It’s about living in the moment and being in touch with who we are, about acknowledging the negative or worrying thoughts that besiege us and then letting them go.

I’ve tried meditating, with limited success. I find it difficult to sit still doing nothing. (I know, it’s not “doing nothing” but that’s what it feels like to me.) But I have found that combining some of Kabat-Zinn’s teachings with the physical act of drawing provides a therapeutic calm that I don’t get from breathing techniques alone.

Concentrating solely on making lines, doodling engages the mind and hand and allows the brain to disengage from the daily grind. Twenty minutes can disappear, leaving you refreshed, renewed, and better able to face whatever it was that was bothering you. Better yet, after allowing yourself to focus on something other than your immediate problems, you may find that some of those problems aren’t so immediate, and some of them aren’t even problems any more.

Doodling is the key to escape, but it’s a calm, healthy, creative escape, and one I highly recommend!


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