Simple Practice, Deep Wisdom

    Last week I attended the International Association for Human Caring (IAHC) 40th Annual Conference in Greenville, South Carolina. I spent 3 wonderful days sharing Caring Science conversations with about 200 others who are passionate about helping people to care more fully for themselves and others at work and at home. To that end, I did a workshop to help interested attendees become official “Tanglers” using the Zentangle Method of contemplative drawing. This method of contemplative drawing is a powerful form of selfcare, and when done in groups, helps foster bonding, appreciation, and understanding.

     In terms of self-care, I can say that I find great joy, peace, delight, and contentment in making Zentangle-inspired art. It is always exciting to share this method with others and then see joy, peace, delight, and contentment shine forth from them too! Throughout the rest of the IAHC conference, a Tangling tribe consisting of my Zentangle workshop participants emerged…joyfully creating and sharing Zentangle with each other.

     The self-care and solitary enjoyment of this wonderful practice is already enough to warrant continued tangling. There is also another layer, a social layer, that is equally important.

     During the workshop, I guide my group of participants to take a moment and become intentionally aware of the present moment. We take three in and out breaths together.  I explain the Zentangle method to everyone and review all of the different art tools found in small Zentangle kits that I have given to each participant. Then I walk everyone through the method using a specific set of instructions related to constructing the different layers of a Zentangle tile. Everyone hears and follows the same instructions and uses the same art supplies. Magic emerges when we all come together and make a mosaic with everyone’s completed tiles. The photo for this blog shows a mosaic of completed tiles of workshop participants. If you take a good look at the tiles in the photo, it becomes clear that each tile is unique and beautiful—a creation of each unique and beautiful person in the room. Everyone had the same instructions and drawing materials, yet a great deal of variability emerged. This is a powerful lesson in team building and appreciating the unique frame of reference of each person involved in the activity (Watson’s Caritas Process 7). The mosaic is a visual representation of what happens when we teach students or clients, and when we are working in teams. We all come with different experiences, perceptions, and abilities, and all have the power to contribute something uniquely valuable and beautiful. It would be pretty dull and boring and to look at a mosaic where all of the tiles are exactly the same. But look at how fascinating and engaging it is to look at a mosaic where each tile is the same in many ways, yet also very different! Now when I teach or work in groups, I envision all of the different mosaics I have seen when teaching these Zentangle Method workshops, and it helps me remember that each frame of reference is most certainly different from my own, and also very rich and valuable in the overall collaborative process. It’s a simple process with beautiful and inspiring results. I hope you will try a little tangling yourself!  Just Google the term “Zentangle” and a whole new world will open to you.