By Stacey Kaslon
A Bemidji State University librarian, Narum introduces meditative doodling to students and faculty alike every Wednesday afternoon on the third floor of the A.C. Clark Library.
Meditative doodling consists of drawing on a square piece of paper, or tile, with a pen. Introducing a variety of patterns, this form encourages purposeful drawing—no erasing or sketching aloud—without expecting anything from the artist in return.
“I’ve been doing meditative doodling for several years and find it immensely relaxing, so I was hoping others [would] find it beneficial,” said DeeDee Narum.
Unlike other two-dimensional art forms such as painting and photography, meditative doodling requires little prior knowledge, artistic guidelines or materials. It offers people an accessible outlet to express themselves.
Within minutes of the initial instructions, every person in the session is engrossed in their doodling.
One student participant admitted that even learning the process made her feel instantly relaxed and more focused.
This hour-long weekly workshop teaches students, staff and faculty “this fast growing way to reduce stress, increase concentration, create focus or just relax,” said Narum.
While doodling has a bad reputation for being a mindless distraction in classrooms and conference rooms, recent studies show doodling as a way to enhance a person’s creative thinking and communication skills.
“The wonderful thing about doodling is that it is a whole brain activity—spontaneous, at times unconscious, self-soothing, satisfying, exploratory, memory-enhancing and mindful,” said Ph.D. Cathy Malchiodi, a psychologist internationally known for her work in art therapy.
Jackie Andrade, a psychologist from the University of Plymouth, recently published a study that showed that people who doodled were better at retaining boring information, like lectures and meetings, than those who did not doodle at all.
Though many who attend the sessions cannot not stay the entire time, they admit that having that little break helps with the rest of the day.
After receiving feedback from people on campus, Narum hopes to hold two weekly half-an-hour sessions during lunchtime to increase the ability for people to attend.
“I’m hoping that, if others find it useful, someone may decide to host other time frames, so more people can attend,” said Narum. “I had several participants with a mix of staff and students, so it was very encouraging.”