According to Wikipedia, the word doodle first appeared in the early 17th century to mean a fool or simpleton. The modern meaning emerged as a term for a politician who was doing nothing in office at the expense of his constituents. That led to the more generalized verb “to doodle”, which means to do nothing.
A doodle is a drawing made while a person’s attention is otherwise occupied. They can be simple drawings with representational meaning or may just be made of random and abstract lines, generally without lifting the drawing device from the paper, in which case it’s usually called a “scribble”.
I have always doodled, whether on the phone to friends, enjoying an early morning cup of tea in bed or nowadays when I’m in a meeting on Zoom and processing thoughts and ideas. It makes complete sense to me to pick up a pencil or pen at any time and create patterns and shapes which have no apparent meaning, or do they?
As a practising artist drawing is something I do every day, but what about those of us who don’t readily pick up a pencil and draw? What can doodling do to help our state of mind and why do we do it?
I noticed that when I’m searching for calm and an escape from reality, anxiety or stress I pick up a pencil and start creating. It’s almost as if my subconscious is processing my mix of thoughts while I’m also occupied physically but without intent.
Many years ago when all the mindfulness colouring books first came out I saw my daughter, who is grown up, crayoning in and relaxing. It took me back to the days when as a tiny tot she used to draw on her bedroom wall or later on when she was at school her text books would be covered in patterns and doodles.
She had an exhausting job in the theatre and this was her way of switching off and getting some down time. This type of therapy is something that we could all use to relax and find peace.
When we were decorating our kitchen I doodled all over the wall before it was tiled. I started off with a sketch of my friends who helped decorate and it went on from there. This enormous doodle will only be discovered when those tiles come down, which may not be for years.
The power of relaxation connected to doodling gave me an idea to start mindfulness colouring and doodle evenings first of all in my local micropub The Dodo in Hanwell where I am a resident artist. Doodle at the Dodo became very popular on the first Tuesday of the month. People drinking craft beer and colouring away on templates I would provide or by creating their own doodles. It was amazing to see everyone finding peace in such a simple activity.
The concept of mindfulness originated from Buddhist practice and reflects a focus on awareness of emotions, physical sensations in the body, and consciousness. When you are being mindful, you have an enhanced ability in terms of your self-awareness and capacity to reflect on your experience and daily life.
From this I progressed to leading online mindfulness drawing classes with Ealing Council this summer, enabling the community to relax through my guided meditations and using affirmations and positive thinking to explore the page with a pen, creating doodles with a more mindful approach. I was so pleased to get positive feedback about how this was helping people relax, work through anxiety and find peace. I wanted to help nurture their inner creativity and give their stress levels a break. Doodling helps us to relax. Mental health during lockdown has been high on the agenda and doodling really can help.
So how about on National Doodle Day we all pick up a pen and get creative?
I know I will be doodling away as it becomes a practice which is second nature. So just pick up a pencil and draw ? Starting with a simple line, just draw another and another.. Before long the page will be covered and you will become absorbed in this mindful practice.