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Thursday, January 31, 2013

Heart-Brain Train of Thought

Rick writes:

These past few days we have enjoyed some fascinating conversations, thoughts, and insights.

A conversation about language and Zentangle terminology reminded us how difficult and fettering it can be to try to tie verbal bows neatly enough to contain and convey an experience or an insight. We were again grateful that our Zentangle Kit DVD has no spoken instructions.

This conversation led to discussing right-brain/left-brain concepts and how the Zentangle Method can be an effective tool for immediately engaging those facilities that are often thought of as "right-brain."

When Maria and I wrote The Book of Zentangle, we created it so that it could be read from a perspective of either, or both, "sides" of the brain. We are referring to an often over-simplified concept of lateralization of brain function commonly referred to as right brain/left brain. Generally, the left side is perceived as more resonant with logical, sequential, rational, analytical, and objective processes; and the right brain as more resonant with random, intuitive, holistic, synthesizing, and intuitive perspectives.

With an understanding that the right brain hemisphere is associated with the left side and the left hemisphere with the right; we made the left side of our book mostly images and the right side, mostly words.

We talked about how there may be more than one continuum of interpreting and describing types of experience. I remembered a phrase I had heard: "Heart-Brain." That could just as easily be another continuum. This led to some internet surfing on "heart-brain" information waves. We discovered that there's lots of fascinating info on this. We're now inspired to explore this concept in the context of a Zentangle practice. It's very exciting and we invite any comments and ideas you may have.

Appropriately with Valentine's Day approaching, I must have had hearts on my brain when I created this tile:

This tile is created with quandary* and then I "squeezed" in shapes like we do in 'nzeppel.

After creating my quandary and before inserting those shapes or coloring in any quandary shapes, I could pick out a heart and this tile pretty much finished itself.

Later, I wondered what else I could "see" there so I took a picture and created these overlays in Photoshop:

Now, I'm on a roll. Let's start again with a basic quandary tangle . . .

. . . and do similar overlays, but this time with a slightly different orientation:

There's a delicious metaphor here . . . whatever an overall pattern may be, you are free to discover and focus on whatever shape "suits" you.

Then, I got a bit side-tracked. Out came my compass and straight-edge, and with a little Photoshop help . . .

I wonder if that pattern is behind these familiar shapes.

Ah, such a quandary!

We invite you to join us as we learn more about a heart-brain continuum and what role Zentangle might play in exploring that. We enthusiastically look forward to reading your thoughts and comments about this topic.

* Quandary is a new tangle that we introduced at our most recent CZT seminar. We will do a formal introduction and step-out soon in our newsletter. Until then, if you take a workshop with a CZT (Certified Zentangle Teacher), ask to be shown how to play with this fun tangle. (CZT List)

Click images for larger views beyond words.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Moebius 2

Laura Harms' 103rd Challenge is also her 2nd Moebius Challenge.

Maria's contribution:

Materials used:
  • Zentangle tile
  • Sakura® Pigma® Micron 01 - black
  • Sakura Pigma Micron - brown
  • mooka
  • Pencil

We love you, Artoo!

Click image for larger view.


Tuesday, January 15, 2013

DuoTangle - auraknot/bunzo

Maria and I are playing with a new sequence: she tangles, I shade.

We did that with this tile for Laura Harms' Challenge #102:

(Love that tortillion!)


Just saw a neat new review of our book, The Book of Zentangle.


Click image for larger view.

Monday, January 14, 2013


Some rambling thought and experience ingredients that are coming together . . . 

Ingredient 1
Molly and I recently attended an excellent presentation at Brown University in Providence, RI of undergraduate students presenting their research papers on mindfulness.

Because of recent studies of the Zentangle method as a mindfulness activity, we were interested in better understanding this field. We had also seen a TED talk video by Willoughby Britton, whose students would be presenting papers, and we wanted to meet her.

Ms. Britton is one of the faculty in Brown University's Contemplative Studies Initiative. In her video she describes contemplative studies as "a range of mental training practices which are designed to cultivate positive qualities of mind." She lists some of these positive qualities as attention, patience, compassion and generosity.

Molly and I were interested in what these training practices might be and what role a Zentangle practice might play in contemplative studies. We learned a lot and, after the event, we were fortunate to have a long conversation with Ms. Britton, who was very generous with her time.

A few of our take-aways relative to a practice of Zentangle in this context were:
  • positive impact of mindfulness practice on the prefrontal cortex resulting in improved impulse control
  • varied methods of mental training practices and the time it takes to learn them
  • positive correlation between attention and happiness
  • benefits and impact of an ongoing practice

Ingredient 2
Electricity and radio frequency fascinate me and I am studying basic electronics to understand this area of interest. One facet of electrical theory is induction.

Imagine that the metal bar above is not a magnet. If you run a current through the wire (which does not touch the bar) it induces magnetism in the bar and it becomes an "electromagnet."

It works in the other direction, too. This time, imagine that the bar is a magnet. As you move it inside that coil of wire, it induces a current in the wire.

(Nice aura patterning in those magnetic field lines, by the way.  :-)

Ingredient 3
A local CZT was helping out at Zentangle HQ last week. During a great conversation about her recent classes and the meaning of "mindfulness," she put forth an idea that perhaps the Zentangle method "induces mindfulness."

Aha! Quickly, before I might forget, I grabbed a paper and pencil and wrote, "induces mindfulness."

Bringing It All Together
When Molly and I were discussing our experience after the Brown presentation, we were focusing a lot on the various training practices used to test the benefits and impact of a mindfulness practice. Because, before you can test for mindfulness impacts, you first have to train people in a mindfulness practice. Many of these practices can take a while to learn. Some of these practices also might not align with a person's belief system.

What if you could directly, quickly, and reliably induce the relaxed and focused attention of mindfulness without having to learn or believe anything new?

In our opinion, that is exactly what the Zentangle method allows. And . . . you end up with a beautiful tangible result using skills you already have.

Perhaps one reason people enjoy Zentangle more than they expect to is that, when they complete an eye-hand circuit by making repetitive strokes according to the Zentangle method, they induce a resonant frequency of relaxed focus and attention.

At least that is what this Sunday afternoon's musings suggest.

We look forward to your thoughts and comments.


Wednesday, January 9, 2013


B-rad, Laura Harms' husband, designed a great new tangle that he named phicops. It's the subject of this week's Diva challenge (#101).

Our entries are below but first, check this great quote from Frank Lloyd Wright that we discovered this morning:
I am not a "masterpiece man"—the next one I am going to do is always the best. When a man points to his masterpiece, he is finished. Do not look for much from him.
             —Frank Lloyd Wright, circa 1957

Of course, in the context of circa 1957 English usage, that also means:
When a woman points to her masterpiece, she is finished. Do not look for much from her.
Or, to paraphrase, "Appreciate what you've done and look forward to what's next."

Thanks Laura and B-rad!

Click images for larger views.