Zentangle is a form of art meditation which is used to relax the mind by falling into a state of ‘flow’ by drawing repetitive patterns, and having no end goal in mind while you draw.
Created by Rick Roberts and Maria Thomas, Zentangle is said to intentionally facilitate a shift in focus and perspective, provide artistic satisfaction and an increased sense of personal well being. The repetitive, simple steps support relaxation, focus and inspiration, which as you can imagine can be very useful for those with PTSD.
Sam from Live the Whole is a huge advocate of Zentangle Meditation and notes some of the things she’s experienced while practising Zentangle:
- ‘Flow (which means time passes and I’m absorbed and content in my work)
- Mindfulness (I’m concentrating on the here and now as I draw)
- Allows me to problem solve while not being consumed with the problem
- Pride and artistic expression
- Meditation with something to show for it – Which may not be the point, but the results happen during the process. By allowing it to be random, there is less attachment to an outcome.
- It just makes me feel happy’
So how does it work?
The Zentangle website states ‘In our Zentangle way, you draw each stroke consciously and deliberately. We are always making “strokes” (thoughts, words, deeds) in our life. By practicing the Zentangle Method’s suggestion to make each stroke deliberate, you understand how those apparently small and insignificant “strokes” of our moment to moment lives contribute to an overall life pattern. This is another reason that we say that life is an artform and everyone is an artist.’
One frequent Zentangle advocate said ‘It has been wonderful, I’ve been doing at least one a day, I do it sometimes in the evening for hours and have had the best nights sleep that I’ve had in years, I grind my teeth and I’ve noticed when I start doing Zentangle I actual stop grinding and clenching. I feel like I’ve come out of a very long fog, or sleep. Interesting enough, I have high blood pressure, and anxiety, and last week at the dentist, at which I usually have at least one anxiety attack when I go, I did this in the waiting room and not only did I not have an anxiety attack, my blood pressure was a low 102’.
Officially, you use paper of a specific size, and approved drawing materials, but realistically, any pen and paper will work if you fancy seeing the results for yourself.
How to get started
- Draw a square (or any shape) on a piece of paper
- Split your shape into sections
- Let your mind wander and draw different patterns in each section
Remember, there is no write or wrong when creating a Zentangle – just go with the flow.
There is no ‘one size fits all’ approach to reducing anxiety and stress from PTSD, but if Zentangle meditation isn’t for you keep trying, looking and experimenting until you find what works for you.