What I Hated the Least Today 261/365: MS Paint and the Practice of Ensō

What I Hated the Least Today 261/365: MS Paint and the Practice of Ensō

Recently I noticed a huge discussion sparkled about MS Paint, which was announced to be retired but the decision was promptly withdrawn because people are sentimental about it and not ready to let it go yet. I’m pretty unsentimental and don’t give a shit.

But—this was the first app (then called programme) that I ever used on a computer. I was in my early teens and among the first at school who got a computer at home and later, dial-up internet. I was allowed an hour of computer time per day and spent it drawing wildly coloured zig-zags in Paint because I couldn’t draw a straight line if the life of my dog depended on it (yes, I was a dog person as a kid).

For the sake of reminiscing, for the sake of trying something new (something so old that it is new again) and just for the kick out of it, I opened Paint today on my laptop. I selected a thick painting brush and started to draw circles. My mouse movements, though I thought them quite precise, translated into very shaky and jagged  lines.

I’ve always been attracted to warm colours and to the shape of the circle. I find warm colours soothing and the circle is the only shape that doesn’t have edges. I feel edges as threatening. Whenever I attempt anything with a brush or a colour pencil (which is rarely), I do circles, semi-circles or waves. I am aware that I suck at being creative and I can’t produce anything even approaching a realistic depiction, so I always do abstract crap.

Drawing ensō (no, these are not onion rings)

Since I started doing yoga a few years ago or so, and especially since I started meditating, I became a bit interested in the philosophy of the whole thing. It’s not that there is any unified philosophy, and I’m not really looking for one either. However, I came across a number of concepts which appeal to me and to which I can relate. It’s best described as a personal eclectic selection from Zen Buddhism.

The traditional symbol of zen is ensō, a circle which is hand-drawn in one stroke and not corrected once it’s complete. I prefer an open circle, whose openness implies development, movement and is associated with the beauty of imperfection. The practise of drawing ensō is a self-expression of the creator at one particular moment, which is transient. It allows for the release of the mind, letting go of the need to be in control, allowing oneself to be imperfect. This is obviously helpful for anyone with mental health issues.

During my yoga practice, I have been experimenting with mantras, which is like positive affirmations, but more specifically, it’s an idea you keep in mind while doing things on the yoga mat and, perhaps, off the mat too. At first it sounded like mambo jumbo to me. Then, I had to admit that for your mindset, it is more beneficial to be telling yourself something positive than to be imprinting on your mind that you’re a loser (the latter of which is what I’m naturally inclined to do).

What I have ultimately learned from yoga are some generally applicable values which I’m trying to cultivate. I’m not saying I’m any successful at it, just that I have discovered and pinned down the words for some values that are important to me. I’ve never been religious or spiritual, and I still keep it pretty secular, but it’s a new experience all the same. In case you wonder, among the things I’m working on are: generosity, patience, gratitude, acceptance, fearlessness, focus, flow and others. Also, I’m practising creativity—I mean, I just made a connection between MS Paint and Zen Buddhism.


22 thoughts on “What I Hated the Least Today 261/365: MS Paint and the Practice of Ensō

  1. I like the things you are working on, all positive and you have to think they can only lead you to good places….as I can’t draw circles, even with a compass I stand in awe of your ability.


    1. Yep, I’m trying to cultivate a more positive mindset, though I’m not particularly successful, I’m afraid. I can’t draw circles either – the beauty of the enso circle is that it’s supposed to be crappy. I enjoy this.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. A crappy circle, sounds like my sort of art.
        I think the notion of a positive mindset is something to carry with you. It wont happen overnight, rather its something you have to work at especially is your default setting is to see the not so positive. Sometimes baby steps are better than no steps at all.


        1. I know, I know, things take time, but they also take so much bloody effort that sometimes it’s just easier to be your old negative self 😮 But, thank you, as always, for your encouragement!

          Liked by 1 person

  2. Ha! I use MS Paint all the time to dump screen shots and then crop them down. I know, I know, I just need a snip or clipper tool. I should get one. But ah how nostalgic this post is to the young days of drawing silly shapes in MS Paint.


    1. Oh I see, that’s one good use of Paint! I actually dump my screenshots in MS OneNote and from there save them where I need and crop them with a simple Photo tool. I’m not sure why I’m taking so many unnecessary steps to accomplish this!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Apropos circles: As a teenager me and my girlfriend participated in this hippie thingy: a meditation circle where no one says a word. You’re only supposed to “connect and feel the vibe”.
    We totally connected, went straight home and fucked. We thought it was because we “connected” and didn’t think about the fact that we were teenagers and that fucking was about the only thing we ever thought about.
    So, for me, Buddhism, Zen, Yoga, meditation and all that stuff is really all about sex.


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