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Zentangle as mindfulness-based art therapy
By Marieke Sanchez

Zentangle as mindfulness-based art therapy

It started on 15 September 2014. I first met the creators of the Zentangle method at the Royal Talens office in Apeldoorn. We were offered a Zentangle workshop as a company to introduce us to the products we would be selling as a business. It started for me from a commercial point of view but this quickly changed. It became personal!

In early 2014, I was dealing with burnout-related symptoms, even though I was doing much better, I was still suffering from the aftermath. We were told that Zentangle can increase your focus and creativity, make you more confident and make you feel better overall.

We were told beforehand that anyone can do this and that you cannot make mistakes! Well, of course I had to experience that. As a child, I drew a lot and enjoyed this very much but even then I was critical of myself. I remember sitting with a stack of paper next to me colouring and if I made a line wrong, I threw the whole sheet of paper away. Until my mother saw that, of course, what a waste of all that paper! 😉

Rick and Maria told us their thinking behind this method and how to apply it. This really appealed to me and from that day on, my life changed. 

We were given a nice little box to take home with everything you need and from then on, I tangled every night. Over time, I noticed a shift in focus, my brain calmed down and my head became emptier. It helped me with my perfectionism and self-criticism and I started sleeping better. I became more confident as I noticed my lines were getting tighter and I learnt more patterns. My work became more interesting to look at. Before that day, I could not have imagined that I would ever be able to draw on paper with a fineliner, let alone stand in front of groups to teach. I was included in the Zentangle community and I met new people with similar interests. I learnt new techniques which led me to experiment with different products and my creativity expanded.

My enthusiasm was noticed by my colleagues and in June 2015, I headed to Providence, USA, together with a colleague. We were allowed to attend the Zentangle seminar and then come back to the Netherlands certified as a CZT (Certified Zentangle Teacher). 

From then on, I was allowed to start teaching and telling people about this fantastic method. There are many people who stumble upon Zentangle because they are looking for something to relax them or because they are looking for a fun hobby. There is also a whole group of people who have mental problems and who use Zentangle to calm their minds and get peace of mind. Among other things, Zentangle is also used in primary schools and retirement homes to give children and the elderly self-confidence and improve their motor skills. There are many Zentangle teachers working in addiction care, prisons, hospitals and working with people suffering from PTSD.

The experiences they share with the Zentangle community are very positive. Studies have also been and are being done on the impact of Zentangle as mindfulness-based art therapy. Articles on this, and on the method itself, can be found at

Today, there are more than 7000 CZTs in 61 different countries and there are 3 Zentangle training centres in the world. After 9 years, I no longer tangle daily but several times a week and still teach. It is woven into my life and I am grateful that Zentangle came into my life.

Try it too and you will see that anything is possible, one stroke at the time!