This past weekend I had a special opportunity to teach a Zentangle class at the Smith Center for Healing and the Arts in Washington DC. They are a non-profit organization that develops and promotes healing practices that explore physical, emotional, and mental resources that lead to life-affirming changes for people affected by cancer.Working with the Smith Center has become a personally meaningful experience for me. Along with being able to help others use Zentangle in their healing, teaching Zentangle has helped me through my own journey and provided its own therapeutic benefits.
I was joined by nine wonderfully creative and thoughtful artists. Here is an image of the tiles they created, all in one big mosaic. The second image is of my teaching materials at the end of class.
As a whole, the group seemed to quickly understand the benefits that Zentangle can bring to different people in different ways. Below are a few of the discussions and comments that stood out to me during the class.
– The process of creating Zentangle was described as quieting the constant chatter of the mind. Zentangle often fosters a quiet moment to not only slow down the chatter of the mind, but also allows one to sort through the chatter.
– The process was described as a way to pause a busy life and just be present in the moment as a mindfulness exercise. One woman stated she had already begun incorporating Zentangle into her daily meditation practice!
– Creating Zentangle helped one woman to notice she was comparing her work to another’s and then realized it’s not necessary to be comparing herself to someone else. This applies not only in creating Zentangle, but also in life, which is a topic I often touch on.
– One woman stated she had never really doodled in her life, but found the structured approach of Zentangle to be freeing, much like she imagined doodling would be.
– We discussed the inner critic that often arises for artists (and most people), and how creating Zentangle squashes that negative thought process.
It is my hope that those who attended the class are able to take Zentangle with them and continue this meditative practice when they want to slow down and tap into their inner artist.