Sunday, December 4, 2011

Zentangle - Simple asanas for the brain.

© My first attempt at Zentangle®
The word 'Zen' originates from the Sanskrit word "dhyana" which means being in a meditative state. And to 'Tangle' is to mix together or intertwine in a confused mass. Zentangle® is a mix of both. Its about finding Zen among all the tangles of life.

I am sure there are a lot of people out there who are in the same boat as me, juggling between all our different roles and responsibilities. It almost makes us feel like a tightrope walker, juggling balls and moving one step at a time, yes? What I have learnt is that the key to maintain balance is to keep moving... slowly and purposefully, shifting your weight from one to another and do it being focused and calm.

© Work of all participating in the workshop

For physical agility and flexibility I do yoga. I get on to the mat and get into the flow shift from one asana to another, from finding my center with 'Tadasana' (mountain pose) to the perfect balance and grace with 'Natarajasana' (dancers pose).  Zentangle® is the exact same exercise for the brain. It helps in shutting down the chatter in the head, pay attention, use hand eye coordination and stay calm. 

Its all about achieving a meditative state through pattern drawing. Simple tangles are combined in an unplanned way which slowly builds and grows into a complicated looking drawing. 

All the participant of the workshop, the youngest was 13 year old!
I was introduced to this style by my artist friends Sandhya Manne and Corina Alvarezdelugo. Their work intrigued me and I decided to give it a shot. So, as soon as I heard that a friend, Carol Dunn, who is also a Certified Zentangle Teacher (CZT) was doing a workshop I had to go. What resulted was one of the most meditative and relaxed afternoon I have had in a while. 

What I realized is that the end product was not too different from my earlier 'Madhubani' inspired work. It almost felt like my creative process came to a full circle. And I intend to stay here just a little bit longer.

Zentangle is so much more than I can talk about in a single post. This post is just about my impressions. If you want to know more about the origin and process of Zentagle, you should visit their website :


  1. These are beautiful Joy! I'm planning to take a class with Carol at MAC in Jan.
    Have you started celebrating your birthday week? Have fun - Happy Birthday!

  2. Thank you! Yes it is a fun little workshop :) I have started my bday celebrations with art purchases :) Happy Birthday to you too Kathy!

  3. I loved seeing these in person and reading about this process. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Zentangles seem like a great metaphor for life--as you say all the different areas are quilted together in one "block" of paper. I'm intrigued...they also remind me of the meditative process of creating a mandala...another great Sanskrit word. Interesting that the zentangle acknowledges the chaos of life and through that acknowledgement, one reaches balance--whereas in mandala, one discovers balance through a one-pointed focus.

  5. Hannah.. A very interesting observation about the Mandala! Another difference would be that a mandala has more structure to it and a Zentangle may or may not. What I liked most about Zentangle is how there is order in chaos... Much like my own life sometimes :)


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