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A Zentangle Practice

A Zentangle Practice

Molly writes...

We often refer to Zentangle as “A Practice”. We use the word as a noun. As a noun, a practice is something performed or done regularly. It is a method, procedure, process, or rule used in a particular field or profession. We refer to it this way, similar to the way one might refer to their yoga practice. When one has a regular yoga practice, they might have an intention to develop or deepen their experience with the method in a very personal way but is not about perfecting or preparing for competition. It is about building a connection and exploring your relationship with the activity in a way that offers comfort, stability, and a platform for growth. Those that have practiced yoga for an extended time, will know that yoga is both a physical and mental practice. Without the partnership of the two, your yoga practice will be short-lived. This is true for Zentangle too. There is the physical act of drawing tangles, but without that connection to the method, your process might feel empty.
 
I speak directly from experience on this. When I first started creating with Zentangle I did not have or more precisely, understand the mental part. I got caught up in trying to invent patterns rather than explore them. I insisted on planning each tile and got distracted by what it should look like. I did not see or understand why it was important to work through so called “mistakes” and instead let every unintended or unplanned line stop me right in my tracks.  And because of that I struggled to find flow in the artform.
 
Once I gave myself a chance to let go of the expectations, I had put on myself, I was able to explore the method and enjoy the process. I also started to get more out of my practice when I started to see how the philosophies paralleled how I interacted with my world. Things like approaching things one stroke at a time, trusting the process, finding and focusing on beauty, choosing opportunity over mistakes and slowing down are things that made a huge shift in my overall perspective.
 
As with any skill, technique, or method: the more you do it, the more it will come with ease and the more flow you will find. With any practice, you will go through periods where things seem simple and times where you have to work through things and stuff seems more challenging. That flow and or struggle will sometimes be in the physical part and sometimes to will be with the mental part and sometimes it will be both.
 
We call Zentangle a practice because we see the benefit in doing it as a routine, or a ritual, or just simply a repeated activity. We see it as a tool, as a hobby, as a meditation, or as an exercise. A practice is something that is done repeatedly. And it is within that repetition that we gain insight, confidence and enjoyment.
 
As with any practice, whether it be yoga, dancing, jogging or Zentangle, there are times where we stray from our practice for one reason or another. The thought of starting up again can be daunting. Luckily with Zentangle, we encourage you to tap into that, “one stroke at a time philosophy” and make your practice fit your world for this moment. Instead of deciding to tangle every day, just decide to tangle today. And instead of thinking about the whole tile, just worry about that first stroke and then follow it with another and another. And maybe when tomorrow comes you find time again.
 
Enjoy your Zentangle practice. Enjoy its ups and downs and trust that it is ok to slow down, take breaks and maybe sometimes totally consume your days tangling. Make it unique to your world. Take chances, find beauty and have fun. 

Molly Hollibaugh

36 comments

  • Thankyou Molly. I love the way you word your thoughts and explain the Zentangle philosophies. You compose your words like I think them only edited and more organized. It is always so helpful to keep me on track and not get caught up in adding all the other pressures on myself while I’m tangling. I have been enjoying myself so much working through the project packs. I really feel this mindset is going to help me a lot when I start painting again.

    CYnthia on

  • Thank you Molly for the post. I’ve been losing my way, but reading your message, I’ve felt that it is ok to be honest to myself, just follow what I feel comfortable, not to be bothered by others. I will restart from one stroke at a time👍

    Chieko Egami on

  • Such true words Molly, thank you. My Zentangle practice is like the most patient friend you could wish for. She is there waiting quietly, unassuming, she doesn’t make crowd me, or make me feel guilty for neglecting her. But she’s always there when I’m ready. Sometimes the time we spend together is easy, sometimes challenging, sometimes we even argue. But it works, it’s healthy, it’s loving. And I’m very grateful we have each other!

    Jem Miller on

  • Thank you for your post. It is always good to be reminded that we do better by regularly visiting our Zentangle muse, and identifying it as a “Practice” helps to frame the experience as one that grows our spirit. I love to release my inner critic and just draw.

    Beth Peters CZT34 on

  • Beautifully said Molly! Thank you. 💖

    Donna Jacobson on

  • A beautifully written piece, Molly.
    This is exactly what I teach and repeat to everyone, that Zentangle is a practice, something you do regularly and not something you have to practice to get “right”.
    Once you embrace that concept and enjoy the moment, this moment and this moment, you allow yourself to relax, take those opportunities and enjoy all the wonderful mindful and creative moments without the self imposed critiscm that restricts and halts you.

    Joanna Quincey (Zenjo CZT) on

  • Molly, thank you for your words, it made me immediately grab a tile and a pen! Same happens everytime when I read and reread Zentangle Primer :)

    Yulia Folkman on

  • Hi Molly, I love your watercolor “string” on the tile of this blog. Gives me some ideas for my own watery string. I am practicing Zentangle nearly everyday now and am working on a multiple tile project. Zentangle makes me so happy. Thank you.

    Leslie Hancock on

  • I agree with Molly. Even Drs. practice. They may have gotten to be excellent in some type of procedure but every time they do it, they are practicing to become even better. There is no such thing as perfection! Lord knows we try but that is why it is called practice!

    Barb B. CZT

    Barb Burgess on

  • Thank you, Molly, for this insightful article.

    Beatrice on

  • Thank’s Molly,
    Very thoughtful.
    Makes my brain work towards my wishes.
    ❤️🙏

    Annika Wiener on

  • Really beautiful blog Molly! Thank you! 💗🙏🏻

    Valerie on

  • Thanks, Molly for your words of encouragement. Helps me understand the word PRACTICE. My violin practice-one bow, one sound, one song;

    My yoga practice-one movement, one stretch, one reach; my Zentangle practice-one stroke at a time. In common with all is one breath, one exhale, one inhale – my body, my mind, my spirit – creating ONE. Thank you.

    Paulette Kirschensteiner on

  • This speaks to me in a way that I have only recently understood. I have been a seamstress all my life, enjoy hand sewing, but have a very ambivalent relationship with the sewing machine.My zentangle practice recently gave me a flash of insight that all I need to do at the sewing machine is focus on one stitch at a time. What a revelation ! I no longer dread having to sew on my machine and actually look for projects to do. One line at a time, one stitch at a time.

    Susan Williams on

  • It was great to read you. I wrote it in a small journal. Practice, practice and practice. And I also write slow down, slow down!

    Nathalie from Québec City

    Nathalie Paré on

  • I equate my Zentangle practice to yoga as well. I discovered one just shortly before the other. I like to think practice makes progress, not perfection. I don’t strive to be perfect in anything I do. I do strive to improve. Thanks for this Molly. I’ll share it as I often do.

    Deborah Bowyer on

  • Practice makes perfect and the perfection is just in the doing. Great reminder. Thank you.

    MKay BB Watson CZT17 on

  • Thanks for both the reminder and the support. Reminding us to practice not perfect and supporting our finding our own times to tangle.

    LIsa Hoesing on

  • Obsessive on some days, lax on others, my Zentangle practice has certainly taught me to expect the unexpected and then like life, accept it

    BInaifer Karanjia on

  • Lovely blog post Molly! You have captured the essence of Zentangle and it truly needs reminders. So easily one slips into the perfecting of the creation and forgets the process. Which is the real gift.

    You too are a gift to this community. Thank you!

    Rohini SIngh Chopra on

  • Molly, I now understand that repeated practice is a vital element of Zentangle. Since Covid I find myself practicing, revisiting, and exploring patterns and combos. Much of this is due to the wonderful CZTs who have been sharing their gifts and broadening my horizons. I plan to keep up my 1-3 hour daily commitment. I can never thank you all enough for this wonderful art form.

    CLARA BRUNK on

  • So beautifully put!

    Rimona Gale on

  • Thank you so much Molly. Just what i needed to hear today. I have been practicing sporadically. It seems, at least for me, in this time of Covid, it is hard to get my motivation going. I keep thinking there is something wrong with me if I don’t tangle everyday. This of course makes it even harder. i needed to hear just tangle for today and don’t try to plan every step. Sometimes i’m stopped because i can’t think of anything new to tangle. You have given me permission that it’s okay to tangle my favorites over and over. When I let go something different always seems to happen. Thank you again for trust the process. Leah

    Leah on

  • Well said Molly. The choice is always ours to choose what direction our Zentangle practice goes. And no two choices are ever the same, even with the first stroke of the day.

    Sue Leslie on

  • I agree with Molly and Bruce. Go with the flow.

    KAthy Y. on

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