Review of Zentangle Program at Saint Joseph College by Elizabeth Chan
Zentangle is an art form that is used as a type of art therapy, meditation, and stress management. Its aim is to relax persons making a Zentangle and have them focus on creating repetitive patterns so that intentional works of art are formed. Created by the artist Maria Thomas and the former monk Rick Roberts, Zentangle was formed when Thomas felt the same feeling one would feel in meditation in her art. The zen is from Roberts since he was a monk and the tangle is from Thomas because she is an artist, with both of them together as Zentangle. Generally used with square pieces of paper, pen, and pencil, Zentangle is a simple, delightful activity, and if nothing else, the Zentangle Program held at Saint Joseph College is worthwhile to just attend at least once.
I first heard of Zentangle during the First Year Welcome Weekend that spanned from Friday August 26, 2011 to Sunday August 28, 2011. Meredith Yuhas, who is the director of the Counseling and Wellness Center here at Saint Joseph College and also the host of the Zentangle Program, explained how to do Zentangle and the benefits of using. My first impression of it then was that I liked Zentangle since it seemed a lot like doodling, being enjoyable to do because both were effortless and kept my mind away from things that would give me pressure and stress.
I learned later on that Zentangle and doodling were not the same as I attended the Zentangle Program on the weekends. The program starts at 10AM and ends at 12PM (You can leave any time you want since it is a voluntary, not a mandatory, activity.) Refreshments from Dunkin’ Donuts such as donuts, munchkins, and coffee are offered. Everything is for free and there is no need to bring any materials since all that is necessary is already provided. You have to RSVP to email@example.com or call 860-231-5366 beforehand so that enough supplies are brought, and you can bring anyone with you (such as your friends from another college or your family), so long as you inform in advance that there is more than one person coming.
The dates for the program are a bit strange though because program does not happen every weekend but on every other weekend: after the Welcome Weekend, the next time it was held was on Saturday October 1, 2011 and then on Saturday October 29, 2011, with the next upcoming one being November 12, 2011. The location was also weird because it was held in a classroom in McDonough for the Welcome Weekend, the Faculty Dining Room on Oct. 1, and then the Bruyette Reception Room on Oct. 29.
The number of people attending is usually between ten to fifteen and of a wide age range, spanning from teenagers to adults. The only downsides to the Zentangle Program besides the constant change of locations, the only way of knowing about it is through online on the SJC collegiate or random fliers at Bruyette and Lynch, and the fact that it happens only on Saturdays (when some people are either not on campus or are commuters) is that it is not for everybody because Zentangle requires for you to stay still and draw for a certain length of time while listening to soft, calming music. Some people are either bored or get twitchy after awhile and find that Zentangle to not be something they need and is a waste of time that could be spent finishing paperwork or chores.
But what is the difference between Zentangle and doodling? You do not need any artistic ability to do either, both are a joy to do, and they help you focus on the things that do not make you stress and worry. The difference though is that doodling is done out of boredom (most notably on the margins in one’s class notes) and mindlessness (most times, the doodles are not what one plans to do) while Zentangle is focused on creating pattern designs and mindfulness (you are purposely drawing something) so that you do not think of anything else.
The Zentangle Program is educational and interesting— teaching people to stay in tune with themselves, be in the present moment, and adopt a non-judgmental approach to oneself so that one learns a way to relax. You cannot fail in making a Zentangle because from the start, you do not know what the result will be. Your creation is not held back by your expectations because that is not the point of Zentangle. And although I know Zentangle is not for everybody, it is worth going to one of the Zentangle Program meetings just to see how it turns out because Zentangle is one way to just kick back and relax.