Mandalas, ZenTangles and ZenDoodles

Feeling Zen?

Quite often the first thing someone says to me is “I can’t draw”. I hear it all the time!
It isn’t true, of course, but most people say it with a hint of sadness, because drawing, painting or sketching is something they would like to ‘be able’ to do.

One of the many benefits of doing something creative, whatever your opinion of your ability, is how it helps you practice mindfulness – without even trying.

Minutes will drift by quietly whilst your senses are absorbed in something as simple as putting lines on paper.

For this reason alone, colouring for adults is now very much ‘à la mode’. There are thousands of colouring sheets and books you can download and buy, and even apps for your electronics that allow you to paint by numbers!

You can however, skip the download on Amazon. Here are 3 popular and mindful ways of ‘drawing’ that have their roots in meditation and spiritual beliefs – and also perfect if you truly believe you cannot draw!



A mandala is a religious pattern developed by Buddhist monks. Created in colourful sand, the pattern would be elaborated and then when complete, brushed into a bag as a meditation on impermanence. Mandalas are great tools for mindfulness and can also increase self-awareness. For this reason, many different cultures around the world use mandalas in their spiritual practices.

When you create your own mandala, it can be a highly enriching personal experience, if you want it to be. You can explore shapes, colours and patterns to represent anything from your current state of mind or a state of mind that you would like to achieve.

Whether you embrace the spiritual aspect of this or not, your mandala will be uniquely yours.

So how do you get started and what do you need?

  1. Paper (with a smooth surface ideally), pencil, ruler, ink pen (optional) coloured pencils/paints/markers (optional), compass (optional)
  2. Start by pinpointing the centre of the mandala and then measure 3 points equally from this, increasing the distance gradually each time. Do this horizontally, vertically, and then diagonally. This will give you the points to connect and create your ‘circles’. Don’t worry if the lines of the circle are not ‘perfect’.
  3. Start to complete your mandala with patterns, circles, symbols and shapes. These are entirely up to you – the only important thing is that they are repeated, it is this repetition that is a key element of a mandala.
  4. With your lines in place you can add colour to your design, even watercolour – there are no rules. You’ll find there are some truly beautiful designs to be created.


If rulers and circles aren’t your thing then Zentangles may be for you.

Despite the name, Zentangles are not religious or spiritual. Although the meditative style of drawing and inking is fairly similar to Mandala drawing, the term is purely marketing.

Zentangles start with a ‘string’ – a curved line that divides the area into shapes. These shapes are then filled with patterns, more shapes and shading to create an abstract design.

Zentangles are super easy to do and black and white – no colour required!



You can combine the repetitive pattern element with a drawing, or some other ‘form’. This is a ZenDoodle. Your initial form may be a flower, or a person, or an object, and this is usually coloured, at least in part. The surrounding space can then be filled with black and white patterns, just as you would a Zentangle.


Tangle Art

This is perhaps my personal favourite, and takes the whole thing one step further, so the pattern element becomes part of the drawing itself. There are endless ways this can be incorporated into your sketches and it can be incredibly attractive too.

So if you want to unwind and relax, grab a pen and paper, start drawing some lines – and lots of them!