Meditation through coloring & zentangle

August 29, 2015

This beautiful Zendala tangled by Laurel Regan.

In the old days it was called doodling, those repetitive patterns we’d make as we sat in boring meetings. Today, though, it’s got a name: Zentangle.  And it has an entire culture that surrounds it, so woe unto those who call it doodling!  But really, it is, just a higher form of it. And some of it’s just gorgeous, like the pieces my Zentangling friends Laurel Regan and Karen Sandoval gave me permission to use in this post.

We live in a stressful society. No secret: we’re consumed by social media and text messaging, the instant 24/7 connections that leave us missing the down time necessary to regenerate. I think we long for time in which we’re disengaged from the constant pull toward information and communication, time to rest that part of our brains and engage in something that may be demanding, but not in the same way. Something that uses an entirely different part of our brains.

pencilsAnd THAT, I believe, is why activities like Zentangling and even adult coloring books have become so popular. When we’ve put pen or pencil to paper, we both resting AND exercising our brains. It sounds like a contradiction, but if you think about it, it really isn’t.

Now, you’d think that to relax we’d take a hot bath, read a good book, meditate or do yoga, and of course, many people do just that. But I also believe our society pushes us to be “doing something productive” and perhaps Zentangle and adult coloring are just productive enough that those of us prone to “doing” are ok with it. And because Zentangle includes “Zen,” its meditative qualities are touted and, I think, are real. Repetition is a big part of zen and those intricate, repetitive designs can be a meditation.

Unless, of course, we obsess over them.


From Karen Sandoval.


A little different.  If you’re interested in seeing more Zentangles, visit Laurel Regan HERE or Karen Sandoval HERE. Some beautiful designs that will take your breath away. Oh, and Karen is certified to teach Zentangle, so check her site out.

So, I’m curious. Have you taken up Zentangle? Or coloring?

color tangle

I was surprised to see that tangles can be done in color. From Karen Sandoval

What are your thoughts on these new adult activities?

22 comments on “Meditation through coloring & zentangle
  1. Lisa Froman says:

    My sister has been doing this sort of thing for years in a special notebook. I had no idea what it was called. Just learned something new.

  2. Laurel Regan says:

    I haven’t actually tried adult colouring yet (though I’ve created several colouring pages!) – but tangling is, quite possibly, the best creative pastime that’s ever found me. Thanks for including me in your great post – I hope others are inspired to join in on the fun and relaxation!

  3. They’re beautiful! I admire the patience and skill of both these ladies!

    • Patience isn’t my long suit.

      • Karen says:

        A typical Zentangle session lasts 20 minutes and doesn’t require much patience. It’s repetitive strokes with minimal tools so your mind isn’t cluttered with “what to use next” thoughts. 20 moments of Zen with a beautiful little piece of art after you are done meditating. xo

  4. I mentioned on fb the other day I was thinking about getting an adult coloring book. I was surprised how many of my friends are into it. One of them, Michele Tremblay, is putting a few coloring books together. She does incredible paper art and I can’t wait to color in her designs.

  5. Diane says:

    I discovered the joy of colouring with my granddaughters a few years ago. So restful. I even find myself doing the colouring app on my phone that I installed for my grandkids. Who knew I was so progressive?!

  6. Karen says:

    Hi Carol, thank you so much for the blog love and linking to my blog!

    Zentangle has changed my life for the better in so many ways and I would love to spread the Zenjoy everywhere. For now, I’m so wrapped up in learning new art techniques I’ve totally neglected my personal blog where I should be showcasing my artwork, but am not.

    Meanwhile, if your readers want to follow along with my Zentangle Art Journey, you can find me actively posting here:

    Love you gf, I hope you are having a wonderful trip. xoxo

  7. Jennifer says:

    My husband and I both love to zentangle and I haven’t found a coloring book I didn’t like. Currently love the ones that are like stained glass windows or mandalas.

  8. Hi Carol,
    I haven’t heard of zentangle or the adult coloring books, but both would be right up my alley. Eleven years ago, during chemotherapy for breast cancer, I bought a coloring book and pencils. It was a great diversion.. a form of meditation that took me away from the here and now. Thanks for telling me about both!

  9. My daughter is actually a creator of the Zentangle in her creations. I don’t color but somewhere in my mind this sounds quite appealing. I may give it a go now that I have a name for it.

  10. Theresa Wiza says:

    Over the span of my very long life, I have spent a lot of time “doodling,” never realizing it would land me a job as a designer (not an artist – I can’t even draw stick figures), so I can attest to its calming effects. I still love the feel of a pencil in my hand, mechanical or not, and I love the way it glides across a page, whether I’m creating words or designs. Thanks for the reminder. I’m going to have to revisit that part of my brain.

  11. I’ve been doing Zentangle for almost two years. I recommend checking out Rick & Maria’s Zentangle Youtube site. They are the creators of Zentangle and owners of the copyright and the videos of Maria tangling are incredible to watch.

  12. I really need to try this! My daughter does zentangle and creates beautifuly designs

  13. I’m not creative enough to Zentangle but I will confess to a love of colouring-in and I remember being pleased to discover that other adults enjoyed it too (made me feel more validated!) It is extremely relaxing and a great way to zone out for a while ~ Leanne

  14. How wonderful of you to support Laurel and Karen by sharing their absolutely beautiful art in this post Carol.
    I remember my mother spending time coloring with us when I was small. I always suspected she enjoyed it as much as we did – and we were always in awe of how beautiful her pictures turned out. Even now, I remember how she would outline and then fill in each form.

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