doodling as meditation

Remember drawing your sixth-grade teacher with devil horns in your notebook, or doodling hearts, flowers or stars, during a boring business meeting? I’ve been guilty of these scenarios. But happily, I no longer feel like a complete slacker. Turns out, making seemingly inane marks or simple cartoon people can be productive and meditative.

Psychology Today magazine reports that doodling can help boost your memory and concentration. This means doodlers are not “spacing out.” The activity can help to keep you engaged and focused on the present moment and better able to process information in a variety of situations, such as while on a phone call, or listening to a lecture or podcast.

If you suffer from anxiety, doodling can help relieve your symptoms. My own anxiety “toolbox” includes yoga, meditation, hula hooping and doodling. When anxiety strikes, doodling helps refocus my scattered, panicky thoughts and settles me down, especially when combined with a cup of herbal tea, like chamomile.

I never dreamed that some of my grade-school doodles would positively influence my future career as an artist. I’ve incorporated some of my “mindless” scribbles into paintings, jewelry, prints and cards, which I later sold.

So, if your grandchild’s notebook is sporting suspicious-looking scribbles rather than Hemingway style prose, don’t panic. Your pride and joy just might be a prodigy in the making. Now it’s your turn to explore this deceptively simple art.

Choose Some Simple Tools

One of the best things about doodling is that you don’t require many tools. In fact, everything you need may already be available in your kitchen junk drawer. There’s no need to purchase anything fancy. As they say, keep it simple. Start with these:

  1. Unlined paper, such as copy paper or an unlined journal
  2. Ink pen, fine marker, pencil or colored pencils
  3. Music, chirping birds or silence

Let’s Start Doodling

While you can draw anything that comes to mind, let’s begin with flowers as the doodling subject. Choosing one topic at first can help keep you focused and create more of a meditative state.

Follow These Five Steps:

Draw 10 small circles anywhere on your page.

Draw dots, lines, and/or spirals in each of the circles.

Draw petals on each circle and vary their sizes.

Draw a small stem for each flower.

Draw a simple leaf on either side of the flowers.

Expanding on This Theme

Take notice how you feel after creating the flower doodles. Do you feel more relaxed, sleepy, or possibly energized? Are you eager to doodle more? If so, you may expand on this page by adding more petals to the flowers and/or leaves to the stems.

You might also add stars, hearts, circles or squares on the page around the flowers. Use your imagination, nothing is off limits. Allow yourself to be curious, and don’t worry how your images look. Try not to judge yourself, as that isn’t the point of this project. Just relax and have fun.

Let’s Have a Conversation:

When was the last time you tried doodling? Did you do it with a purpose, or just for fun? Have you tried any particular design? Would you try the one suggested in this article?