Why Do We Need Zen to Doodle?

N writes: “I am an artist. My local art association had 2 women guests come and demonstrate the art of Zentangle recently. It is aform of doodle-ing . They said that it is associated with Reiki, Yoga and New Age. . . .


They use symbols that the creator of Zentangle created. The names of some of the symbols are Opus, Aura, Bales & Cadent ( cadent is from Canine & Dental).  I did not participate in the drawing of a bookmark. I just observed while about 35 others did try it.

“When I talked to the one presenters afterwards, I asked her if she knew that  Reiki is connected to the Occult. She said no.  A few others that I told this to did not believe it.  When leaving, one woman said that she felt like she was in a trance when drawing!

“The presenters said that Zentangle is being taught to adults & children alike.  To those who need therapy for physical, mental or emotional reasons. It is a so- called meditative & relaxing form of de-stressing from life.

“A man & a woman started it. The man is a former Monk! When they have classes they often play New Age or Yoga music. I felt that someone needed to confront them on the Occult connection .

“What is your opinion of Zentangle? And what else can I say to my fellow artist friends about it? Their website is twototangle.com Or just google Zentangle.”

Zentangle is one of those practices that seemed to be nothing more than harmless doodling until I probed a little deeper into the people and organizations who are promoting it on the web.  Sure enough, many of its promoters are engaged in all kinds of New Age and occult activities. For example, check out Meiklem Kiln Works where Zentangle classes are taught alongside Reiki attunements, Reflexology and Intuitive Readings.

For those who have never heard of Zentangles (also known as Zendoodles), they are abstract drawings done with pen and ink that consist of sections of patterns, known as “tangles,” which are built with small repetitive strokes. As N mentioned in her e-mail, these patterns have names such as Opus, Aura, Bales & Cadent and dozens of others.   These drawings require no artistic talent and are said to be very relaxing.

I have no doubt that doodling patterns can be a fun escape from the stresses of daily life, and in this regard, there’s not a thing wrong with Zendoodling.

But when I found this write-up on the practice by Zentangle co-founder Rick Roberts, a former Zen Buddhist monk, I began to sense something strange about this new art form.

“I believe this world is more than I think it is and that I am more than I think I am. But thinking in words and with concepts I’ve learned — that limits and restricts what I can imagine and create,” Roberts writes.

“That’s why I love Zentangle because it’s a non-verbal language of patterns and proportions which opens doors to insights which seemed locked before. Creating Zentangles opens those doors, not because they were locked, but because those doors swing on non-verbal hinges.

“When I create a Zentangle I enter a meditative state and my intuition flows free. I get inspirations, ideas and answers unhindered by expectations or worries.

“With Zentangle I become aware of patterns and their underlying structures. I can create new patterns. Zentangle is both metaphor and means for expanding intuitive awareness and deliberately enabling creativity to flow in unexpected directions.

“As a meditational artform, Zentangle leaves a trail of creativity and beauty I can revisit and recapitulate whenever I want. So many insights and a-ha moments happen when I look at Zentangles I’ve drawn. They are like dreams that don’t fade and continue to instruct and inspire me, weeks or years later. . .”

The fact that some people use Zentangle as a way to quiet down and pray is evidenced by this testimony of a former Catholic who uses it for this purpose.

Like I said, doodling can be fun and relaxing, but why can’t we just leave it at that?

Send your New Age question to newage@womenofgrace.com

4 Response to “Why Do We Need Zen to Doodle?

  1. I just happened upon your site and I’m amazed and appalled … I’m a Zentangle enthusiast. Occult??????? You people must be truly crazy. I’m sorry that you won’t be able to experience this wonderful artwork . What very strange thinking.

  2. I have to agree. Occult?! I have to admit people are a little obsessive about the Zentangle thing, but it is pretty cool to look at and doodling is extremely stress relieving. In case you are not aware, if you are equating practices of eastern religion to a cult, meditation is part of Christianity, only it is called praying, doing the rosary, etc. Knitting, crafting, exercising, and even doing the dishes are meditative activities. Your life must be kind of sad, seeing occult activity in every corner. I feel sorry for you, that you cannot experience the simple pleasures in life without seeing menace in them.

    • Christian meditation has nothing to do with the kinds of relaxing exercises you mention such as knitting, crafting, exercising, etc. Christian meditation is a “quest” to seek a deeper understanding of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and to how we might respond more perfectly to His Word (Catechism No. 2705). On the other hand, eastern forms of meditation are mental exercises designed to bring a person into an altered state of consciousness. These are two entirely different concepts, but are commonly misunderstood due to a general lack of catechesis on the part of Christians and a lack of understanding of eastern meditative practices.

  3. Hello to Christian Women!
    From PenandInk777

    We all do art and find enjoyment in during different art form. Zentangle (R) is a simple art form of doodling repeat patterns of geometric, etc., If a Christian find themselves enjoying Zentangle and its theory and process more then enjoying and spending time with Jesus as their saver than Zentangle just like any other things will become your God.

    Its true that Zentangle has helped people and also I believe it probably has saved someone’s life (I mean this type of art form doodling repeat pattern). Also, I give Zentangle credit for making a well known art form popular with the general public. However, others has done this type of art form before Zentangle where they have claimed how doodling save their life, for example Ms. Carol Edmonston “SacredDoodles” she has a wonderful story about doodling whiled she waited in the doctors office about having cancer.

    Rick and Maria has dress up doodling in a trendy new name and is promoting how fun it is and that it can do this or that to help you, etc., (go to the website and you can read in detail). I think they are putting it in the Public School, however as a Christian I would talk to the school if I had a child how they are teaching Zentangle. If it is being taught like a religious or to sale their product to the children then as a parent I would be against it.

    Others also think Zentangle is a cult, scam, and stolen ideas.

    Cult, – has founders and followers Rick and Maria, you must be in good standing or you loss your trademark benefit, if you are making money off this art form then please pay us Royalties, Mind-numbing techniques (such as meditation, chanting, etc.,), The founders dictates drawing methods in great detail how CZTs and others should think, act, and feel, for example you must use our words we created to experience our drawing method,  The group is elitist, claiming a special, exalted status for itself (for example CZTs are the only ones that can teach our Zentangle methods, because just like yoga one must be instructed correctly in doing it right, The group’s leader is not accountable to any authorities, for example they did not want Non-CZTs to teach from their product until they was told legally you can not keep someone from teaching Zentangle, Last, is that CZTs are encouraged or required socialize only with other group members for example, I have heard others that are not CZTs feel so overwhelmed by reading Zentangle website of the Do’s and Don’t in sharing their products.
    Oh, I want to say why don’t they published their cost to their seminar . . . . . . is this a secret . . . . . do you know how much it cost to go to one of their seminar to become a CZT because I can not find the cost, however they said it is cheaper than others.

    I think if you are a Christian you should go and read their Zentangle Website and pray and ask God do he want you to support Zen and Eastern Religious belief. However, some art teachers do teach the very basic of Eastern Religious for diversity curriculum but it is only to serve as a knowledge of skills and history and appreciation of other culture art form, but not to CHANGE YOUR LIFE . . . . . . BECAUSE AS A CHRISTIAN THAT IS WHAT JESUS CHRIST YOUR SAVIOR HAS ALREADY DONE.

    Rick and Maria truly have followers and I can see how Christians and other Non-Christians might see how Zentangle is a scam, because in their seminar the CZTs pay money to get this title and then is told you can make money by teaching Zentangle to others and you can use our trademark,etc., but we can not help you in your business plan, but if you make money in doing Zentangle then we want a donation. (I have learned from people and they have never ask to be continuously supported and I have use art supplies brands and they have never ask in their package for a donation because their product I use to make money from).

    If you are a Christian and you feel that Zentangle is the opposite of Christianity and you like drawing doodles, you can buy or check out Library books that have the title word doodling, repeat patterns in it or just use geometric shapes,etc.,

    If you are looking for mediation then you can buy or make a DEVOTIONAL BOOK of your thoughts to Jesus where you share your victories, your trails in life, where you give him thanks, where you have faith, and hope, etc., and this journal will bless you because your doodles will mean more to you and by ending every doodling art work with an encourage bible verse it will become your own personally witness book where you know NOT TO WORSHIP THE ART FORM OF DOODLING AND ITS EFFECTS OF PEACEFULNESS BUT THE CREATOR OF HEAVEN AND EARTH, THE PRINCE OF PEACE, THE EVERLASTING GOD, THE GREAT COMFORTER!

    I wish all my sisters in Christ blessings and remind us all (myself also) that nothing should give us greater joy then being in the present of God and that goes twice for me, because I know how easy it is to get catch up into something or just focusing on yourself which the devil can use to distance you from the truth and the light and get you believing, enjoying and defending a LIE!

    So, listen up Women of Grace!

    Doodle unto Christ!

    1. Journal (talk to Jesus)
    2. draw a outline of any form (called positive space it can be a cat, butterfly, house, your state, etc.,) and use repeat patterns to fill in the outlines.
    3. Find a bible verse for your drawing and speak your Bible verse out loud if you need to build your faith!
    4. Listen to your favor praise and worship music or Bible on tape as you draw.
    5. Pray
    6. Thank God for all he as done for you and what he will do for you!
    7. Ask God to use you today to encourage and bless someone!

    From PenandInk777
    Happy devotional time with the Lord!

    Bible verse:
    Mt. 11:28
    “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden and I will give you rest.”