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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


  • Molly, what a great explanation of our practice. For me, it’s almost daily, thanks to the Tangle-a-Day Calendar Book 📖! there are three days on each page. Sometimes I work on them individually on the actual day, other times I string together all three days into one giant Zentangle creation. I may use a string or not, depending on my mood. I turn on Calm Radio to help remind me of the mind piece of the practice. it’s such a joy and it keeps me in the flow! Time flies by, I’m now on my third year book. That first calendar book was a gift from my Zentangle teacher. I use these calendars as a resource and admire my collection of art form.

    Mary Illana Perrin CZT32 on

  • Beautifully said, Molly. I also found the practice after months of trying to make things just right. I realized that the way itself, the letting go of directing things, was incredible. The not worrying about perfect, and loving just being, finding beauty along the way, making endless small decisions that tickled my fancy, and just feeling the joy dancing down the lane. Some of the joy is beautiful in the page and all the res of it is in the doing, the playing and improvising. ZT helps us learn to trust ourselves in creativity and in our own journeys. K

    Kathy shapiro on

  • Thank you Molly! I am enjoying my Zentangle practice more and more every day!

    Especially after giving myself permission to just play around with it for my enjoyment, instead of just making cards for other people 🙃

    Wendy Need-Beak on

  • I wanted to go to your training to learn the true philosophy behind the method. I am a process not a a product person. I love the little things that happen that we’re not planned. I’m not looking for a perfect piece.

    nancy Campbell on

  • Your words really spoke to me today. I don’t often set out to try and create patterns, but sometimes I do. I really love the idea of just exploring new ways to draw existing patterns and get to know them better. Lately I feel like if I am not following a class or video I am stuck, so I am going to use this as my launch pad to try and get my own flow..flowing so to speak.
    Pretty tile ;o)

    Jody Genovese on

  • this is so true, only been tangling since the start of lockdown in the UK, I’m only now getting the relaxation and mindfulness of it all. thank you for the words of inspiration

    Jenny on

  • I’m always glad when a new post is coming… thank you Molly for these words I needed at this moment !

    Ria Joris-Matheussen on

  • Such good advice! Thank you for this wisdom.

    Georgianna Klein, CZT11 on

  • I appreciate your words of wisdom Molly. I am trying very hard to find balance in my life this year and reading this helps me to remember my goals!

    Mindy on

  • Great advice…. Practice ,Practice, Practice and slow down…and enjoy the moment…

    Bruce Thom on

  • What a great reminder to practice!

    Kate AHrens on

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