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
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. :-)
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.