I randomly stumbled onto the world of Zentangling a few weeks ago when browsing the local library. It’s a meditative type of drawing where you follow a loose set of repetitive instructions to create art, from doodle-like scribbles to rich textures and designs.

Trying it out, two thoughts came to mind.

First, it reminded me that there are many ways to meditate (besides deep breathing in lotus pose, which gets boring after a while)! Many types of art, music, exercise, rest, caretaking, dialog, and ritual can be meditative.

Second, it reminded me of sketching user interfaces. Since software tends to deal with significant amounts of data, when you sketch interfaces by hand you end up needing to draw the same basic component many times. Perhaps there are many items on the screen (as in a long list or data visualization) or perhaps you are drawing the same screen many times to test changes in state or different variations on an idea. Either way, I sometimes get impatient or wonder if it is really a good use of my time. Zentangling was a reminder that it’s indeed ok to spend some time on repetitive tasks, to relax into it, and to enjoy the beautiful results that inevitably come when you put care into your work.

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