Zen…what?

That’s what I said when I first heard about Zentangle from my friend.

Being born and raised in Japan, I’m intimately familiar with the term “zen”. Zen is a Japanese school of Mahayana Buddhism. The imagery that pops into my head when I hear the word is that of monks in black kimono meditating in a tranquil temple. I had visited several zen temples and gardens in Kyoto, which was considered the capital of Japan for more than 1,000 years until it was moved to Tokyo in 1869. These are places that have been there for centuries, yet it may appear ultra-modern to Western eyes. Everything that needs to be there is there, but nothing more. A place of peace and tranquility.

I thought the word “zen” and “tangle” should not be uttered in the same sentence, (which I just did…) much less in a single word. Some things are not meant to be together, like Canadian bacon and pineapple on a pizza. But that’s where the magic of Zentangle lies. In the Zentangle method, we use patterns (a.k.a. tangles) to create a moment of zen in our busy lives.

We value the process of creating a beautiful piece of art as much as the art itself. Some people call Zentangle “yoga for your brain”, which I’m still deciding whether makes sense or not. When I do my (almost) daily yoga practice, I’m still using my brain a lot to remind myself about breathing, proper alignment, core engagement etc. Doesn’t this phrase imply that we don’t use our brain when we do yoga? Shouldn’t it be more like yoga without body? But I still need at least my hand to draw a Zentangle. Maybe I’m overthinking here…and it’s a good place to stop.

For more information on what Zentangle actually is, please visit the official website: https://www.zentangle.com

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