One of my patients introduced me to the art of Zentangling. It is a meditative form of unplanned, abstract drawing. It is performed in black pen on white paper. There are no “mistakes” to be erased. It is meant to be done with mindfulness, rather than as doodling, which is a distraction from the present. It can be done in small, patterned chunks at a time to, so you do not get overwhelmed sitting down to do an entire drawing. I have found that it helps me access the creative parts of myself that sometimes get sidelined during residency and the esoteric pursuits of medicine.
To start, I sit down with either a journal or a small piece of white paper or cardstock, and a fine-point sharpie pen. I either draw a free-form shape on paper, or sketch out a rough 3.5 inch square that is my “tile” to draw in. Then I draw a “string” randomly within the square that divides the space. Below I started by drawing a couple of random “strings” that created shapes for me to fill in with patterns:
Then I relax and focus on my breathing, the pen strokes and the ink flowing, and just see where my pen takes me…
For more information, check out TanglePatterns.com or ZenTangle.com.
Tobi Thaller, MD is a 2nd year Family Medicine Resident at the University of Utah School of Medicine.