Published: 26th September 2017
Fancy an artistic peace therapy in B'luru? India's first Zentangle teacher will guide you through
Dilip Patel explains that Zentangle Method is so designed that if you follow through for a few minutes, the mind gets much-needed respite and one feels relaxed
Looking for the simple path to relaxation and inner peace? Though we wish it was as simple as sitting cross-legged and chanting ‘inner peace’, it may not be too difficult either.
All you need is a black pen and a piece of paper and you can find your inner peace (and artist!) anywhere. Yes, we’re talking about Zentangle, a self-help art therapy practice that enhances relaxation and boosts self-confidence.
Dilip Patel from Bengaluru, who is India’s first certified Zentangle teacher, is popularising the art form by organising workshops in the city. We caught up with him to find out more about the art form.
Zentangle was derived from the Japanese word ‘zen’ for meditation and English word ‘tangle’. It does not have a start or an end. One is encouraged not to use erasers so that stray marks end up creating unexpected patterns
What is Zentangle and where did you learn the technique?
Zentangle is an emerging art form. I came to know about this six years ago through my wife, Malathi (also a certified Zentangle teacher). I thought it was just some style of doodling, but I later realised that there's more to the art form. As a trainer in human behaviour, I felt that this could be a great tool for me to use. A year later, certain dramatic situations took me to the US and I had the opportunity to stay with the creators of Zentangle, Rick Roberts and Maria Thomas, and learn the technique and its philosophy.
Joining dots: Dilip Patel from Bengaluru, who is India’s first certified Zentangle teacher, is popularising the art form by organising workshops in the city
How does Zentangle help tackle stress?
One needs to understand that stress is nothing but an overdrive of the mind. The Zentangle Method is so designed that if you follow through for a few minutes, the mind gets much-needed respite and one feels relaxed. Once, we were in the US to attend a wedding and on the side, we got the opportunity to try this art form with the resident patients of a psychiatric treatment facility. At the end of the session of over 150 minutes, 42 of the 44 participants felt relaxed. Most of them were being treated for drug addiction and alcoholism.
What is most interesting about the technique?
One of the most interesting aspects of this process is that while the art looks very intricate and difficult, people get an ‘aha’ feeling when they do create their first tile (Zentangle art is done on a standardised square piece of drawing paper called a tile)! Perhaps the rule that ‘there are no mistakes in Zentangle’ is the secret behind this.
Go freehand: Experts believe that the rule that ‘there are no mistakes in Zentangle’ is the secret behind this being a therapy
What is your most memorable experience with this method?
I have many. Personally, I cannot forget the early morning in a hospital in the US where my father was breathing his last breath. I sat quietly in the waiting room, creating a Zentangle Ganesha in my pocket diary to keep my emotions at bay. Professionally, I still remember the young girls, who were saved from human trafficking, whom we were invited to teach the Zentangle Method. They were perhaps in their late teens and probably from our neighbouring countries. Within 30 to 45 minutes of being taught the basics, they began to brighten up. By the end of the 90-minute session, the organisers sensed some positivity in them and requested us to return again.
What is the difference between Zentangle and doodles?
Doodling is an unconscious, secondary activity while Zentangle is a conscious and primary process. While doodles are a mindless act, Zentangle art is done mindfully.