Thursday, July 25, 2013

Trust Your Intuition and Dream Big

Guest Post Time!

We've been talking a lot about understanding success this week and to do that we have to know exactly what the hell that means to us personally.  This can be a lot more difficult than it sounds, so the amazingly talented art therapist Cheryl Congrove offered to share a technique she uses in her practice to do this very thing! It's called: Vision Boarding, and it's so much fun!

Have you ever said, “I don’t feel like eating (wearing, doing, seeing, hearing, etc) that right now.”?  How did you come to that conclusion?  Daniel Siegel in The Developing Mind tells us that all information we take in enters through our senses first.  Then our brain begins its computer processing.  From there, we form thoughts and then words about the experience.  He states that because of this, we respond more precisely from our body, because translating the experience into our limited vocabulary hinders our mind.

Yoga therapists, expressive arts therapists, massage therapists, and other professionals agree that good or bad, our life experiences and wisdom are stored in the body.  So why not put that wisdom and experience to positive use?  First, we must learn to consciously bypass the thinking mind.  To do that, we must find out what the body wants.

Try this:
Look at these images:

...Or, better yet, go to the refrigerator and get out two pieces of fruit or food that you like.  Set them before you, and ask your body which one it wants.  Spend a moment looking at, and concentrating on each item.  Notice any sensations in your body (heart, stomach, chest, throat, arms, hands, etc.).  Notice any body responses in your mouth, skin, or muscles.  If you are still, and pay attention, your body will let you know which piece of fruit that it wants.  Ready for more?  Look at two different chairs and decide which your body would like to sit in.  Select two shirts and see which your body wants to wear.  The more you check in with your body on everyday small items, the more clearly you will get to know its voice. 

This process was made even clearer for me at an eye exam that I had yesterday.  They put the machine in front of my face that reminds me of a large “ViewMaster” (which gives away my age!). 

The Doctor then began to flip different lenses up and down asking me questions like “one or two?,” “two or three?,” always having me chose from just two choices.  Why?  Because it’s easier!  Often we know what is right by discerning what feels wrong.

By using this process, you learn how your body communicates.  Branch out to larger life questions.  If fear arises as a response to something pondered, get to know how that fear or anxiety feels in your body, especially the subtleties.  Maybe you never noticed that your throat tightens, you clench your pinky finger in tight, or that you run your hands through your hair when you feel stressed.  Once you know your own internal and external body language you will intuitively know how to respond, possibly before your mind has even processed all of the information!

Do you remember a time when you tried something on while clothes shopping and found yourself feeling an inner sensation of “Wow,” just because you felt so good in the item?  If it wasn’t too expensive, you probably bought it!  We are going to capitalize on that inner “Wow” feeling for intuitively identifying goals.  By working with images, with their implied sounds, textures, and smells we can connect with the wisdom that is held in the body about what will make us feel the most fulfilled.

Let’s get started.

Items you will need:                         

• Old magazines
• Scissors
• Glue stick or Yes! glue (no liquid glues)
• Stiff paper or poster board that is 11” x 17” or larger

Step One:
Take a moment to sit quietly and just dream about the creative life that you’d like to have.  It doesn’t cost anything, and it doesn’t have to make sense, so just let your thoughts come without judgment.  If any inner voices or mental chatter begin, hit the pause button, trusting that you can hit play at any time following this creative activity.  You have now provided your mind and body with your creative intention for this exercise, so there is no need to concentrate on your creative dream as you proceed.

Step Two:
Begin looking through magazines for images (no words or headlines).  Don’t analyze images.  Don’t think.  Just tear out any page, which has something on it that grabs your attention or creates a body response.  Maybe you know this by a tightening of muscles, a breath that is held for a moment, or possibly feeling like you can taste, feel, or hear something when looking at the image.  Maybe it is just the “Wow” feeling, or the fact that you gave the image a second or third look before turning the page.  Keep tearing and working your way through magazine pages until you have collected a pile of images.  If the written words in the magazine distract you, just draw your attention back to the “image only” process.

Step Three:
Begin trimming down your selected images.  Identify the part of the image that drew you in, and if it feels right, trim away everything else.  Be ruthless here, we are getting rid of the distractions!  With an image of a person, for example, you may only end up with their eyes or hands, if that is what pulled you in.  

Step Four:
Begin gluing images to your foundation paper.  Start with the images that create the strongest body response.  The hard part here is keeping your mind out of the process.  We are not making art.  I repeat: We are NOT making art.  Composition, color balance, and all that art school training will have to sit on the sidelines.  Begin placing images onto the page.  Hold one next to another, and allow your body to inform you if it is to go there or somewhere else.  Trust the process, and fill up your page.  Get rid of any images that no longer feel right or that are redundant.  Look for more images in magazines if the collage does not feel complete.

Step Five:
Step back and observe your collage.  Notice any themes or patterns that emerge.  Look for underlying meanings that you associate with the images, or metaphorical connections.  Check in to see if any of the images remind you of anything, and if so, what?  Look at each individual image, as well as the overall collage.  How do they make your body feel?  As you ponder these questions and insights, reconsider your current creative life, as well as the creative dreaming you did in step 1.  How does this information connect or inform?  Is your collage providing you with a creative direction?  Inspiration?  Affirmation?  Guidance for what is needed in your life for creativity to flow?  A reminder about what makes you passionate?

Step Six:
Journal about your collage experience and list creative goals that have emerged, as well as insights concerning any actions needed to nurture and move you toward your goals.  This is not an analyzing or judging process.  You are just recording your observations.  Be open to a change in perspective.  You may have thought that new paints, a new camera, or the right working space would get your creative juices flowing, while your collage reveals that sitting at the beach, surrounding yourself with the color green, or extended time for coffee with friends is needed!  Insights can also give you the courage to respectfully turn away from all of the should or shouldn’t, do and don’t messages that have been blocking your creative path.

Step Seven:
If desired, repeat this process in a similar fashion, but now make a Vision Board that contains images that depict your specific creative goals and action steps.  For this collage you may include words and affirmations that help to create a clear image of the creative future that you desire.  

Vision boards are in vogue, just look here if you don't believe me: VISON BOARDS. Here is a link to an article by Martha Beck about creating a vision board: "What The Heck's A Vision Board—and How Can It Change Your Life?You can even go to Oprah’s web site and build one online.  Many are using Pinterest to create vision boards. 

Martha’s article and books like The Vision Board, by Joyce Schwarz, are great, but do tend to stress that if you can imagine it, that it will happen.  However, long before vision boards were popular, Lucia Capacchione, wrote Visioning: Ten steps to designingthe life of your dreams

Lucia wrote from her experience and involvement with Disney and Imagineering.  She describes “visioning” as “practical dreaming,” and as “applied creativity” that helps you to design and manifest the life you want.  She states “Visioning shows you how to accept opportunity when it comes knocking and embrace results when they arrive.”  Unlike other vision board promoters, she advocates moving your feet into the experiences that your imagination conjures up.  She also reminds us that following a dream rarely means traveling along a straight path so don’t expect things to appear totally logical.  Lucia challenges people to confront their belief system, because you need to believe that your dream is possible.  Disbelief and inaction kills dreams.  According to Lucia, “Visionaries are committed to taking all the steps necessary for giving birth to their creations.”  Creative needs and desires are only satisfied by doing creative things.  According to Luchia, while selecting and pasting collage images, “the visionary is tested for faith in the dream and courage to express it.”  The creator surrenders to the inner knowing of their self as the images are glued onto the paper.  As the collage is hung up for daily viewing, the creative imagination is then transformed into “practical imagination.”

Lucia’s Visioning book contains a wealth of information, and I highly recommend it.  She applies her knowledge of the “10 principles of design” to her Visioning process and guides you from “making a wish” all the way to “celebrating the dream come true.”   She includes journaling techniques, finding a focus for vision boards, how to steer around roadblocks and mind chatter during the process, and how you can “let your mind see what your heart already knows.”

Tapping into your body’s wisdom is powerful stuff.  Putting that wisdom to use through the collage process makes goals and dreams concrete and believable.  Countless people, myself included, can testify to the surprising way that pasted images become reality.  Trust your body and dare to dream... because dreams really can come true!

Cheryl Congrove is a talented artist with a MA in Counseling Psychology and Art Therapy. She currently resides in Prescott, Arizona and uses talking, writing and creative forms of expression to facilitate healing.

You can learn more about her and the work she does by clicking here.

No comments:

Post a Comment