Where I've Been, Where I am, Where I'm Going

Thanks to guest blogger Michelle Saleeba we have another fantastic piece for you to get in touch with your creative side.

Gather your supplies:

  • Journal or single sheet of paper/card
  • Selection of acrylic paints
  • Brushes, foam rollers & sponges for spreading paint
  • Plate or palette to spread paint on
  • Selection of magazines or collage source material that have meaning to you
  • Water soluble pastels and/or pencils or markers for adding detail over dry paint
  • Craft glue 
  • Lead pencil and ruler
  • Decorative paper or tape for segmenting pages (I’ve used a plain black electrical tape from a hardware store)

Introduction

With Therapeutic art activities it is the process, the reflection, the visualisation, the emotional experience that are important NOT the final outcome.  We aren’t aiming for a product here.  

You don’t have to have any art training, you don’t need to be able to make realistic drawings.  If you really feel your piece needs a person in it – stick figures work!

There is no right way to do this only your way.  Take ownership of the process.  And remember no-one need see your work unless you choose to share it. 

Often people feel a little overwhelmed at having to use art materials they’ve never previously worked with.  Or the idea of sitting quietly and reflecting can seem weird and awkward.  That’s completely OK most of us feel slightly anxious when we try something new…..don’t fight it, this is play time and the more you make space in your life for creative and emotional play the easier it becomes.

Reflecting

For this creative therapy exercise it is helpful to spend some time quietly centring yourself and gathering your thoughts.  Leaving behind the stress and carry on from our day to day lives and allowing our self to be really present and engaged with the creative process.  

So get comfy with all your stuff spread in front of you and close your eyes for a moment, focussing at first on your breathing.  Gently aiming for an evenness of breath, in and out.  

Bring your attention to your past – which ever aspect of your past that jumps out at you.  All of it, a specific significant event there’s no right focus here.  Do you have a particular colour that you associate with this time in your life?  With your childhood say or all of the time leading to now?  This is the colour or combination of colours that are going to be the background to the first part of your page.

As you are visualising the colour/s of where you’ve been you will likely have images, words, faces perhaps even sounds, smells and tastes that come to the front of your conscious mind.  Gently acknowledge these – they will guide you in your choice of collage materials.

When reflecting on your present what are the aspects that you are most grateful for?  Those that you would like to change?  Is there a colour that defines your present situation?  A symbol, taste or sensation?

Looking to the Future is a visioning exercise and here we have the opportunity to place our desires, hopes and dreams on the page.  It’s an opportunity to think about the aspects of our life we want to work on or change and how that might look

Engage with the process

Please read through the whole process before you start 

Step 1- Segmenting

Divide your page into 3 sections using your lead pencil.  

If you want straight lines and structured segments use the ruler – if you prefer fluid and loose go freehand!  

Step 2-Laying down the colours

It’s time to use the sponges or foam rollers to colour the Where I’ve Been segment.

We are creating a background here with the intent to place elements on top so it works best to apply the paint sparingly.

Spreading the paint too thickly or using loads of water will increase the drying time.  You can always use a hairdryer to speed up the drying process if you need too.  

Step 4-Rip Tear Cut

Turn to your collection of collage materials and recalling the images etc from your reflection start selecting anything that really speaks to you and fits with what you visualised.  Rip or cut whatever works for you.

*TIP-you want to keep yourself moving quite quickly here – don’t get sucked into reading articles!  It can help to give yourself a time limit!

 (In the example at the top of the document I asked participants to aim for 8 -12 images and/or words per segment.)

Step 5- Collage

You want your painted segment to be dry for this bit.  

Start to arrange the collage elements representing your past on the painted segment.  

Glue them down using your craft glue.

Step 6- and repeat x2

You need to follow the above process through again for Where I Am and Where I’m Going starting with a reflection for each aspect.

Step 7 – Pushing apart pulling together

Now define the three segments of the piece, you can use your tape here or another medium that you prefer such as permanent marker.   

The phases of our life are both separate and dependent on each other.  There are lessons and experiences we choose to leave behind and others to carry forward.  To demonstrate this using your pastels or markers add text and illustration that symbolically links the aspects that you choose to carry through from one part of your life to the next.

For example you may draw arrows or ladders leading from one section to the next. Or perhaps an arrow points from one aspect of your past to the future but the destination is unclear.  

Michelle Saleeba is a single mum to two independent teenagers and perhaps more simply a gorgeous German Shorthaired Pointer called Otis who still likes going with her for walks at the beach!   

She writes, paints and journals and tries to get on the yoga mat as often as possible.   

Michelle facilitates creative therapy support groups for women that incorporate meditation as well as visual art and writing usually in the safe container of a journal.  

Michelle is also an accredited personal trainer and offers exercise programs and training sessions for wellbeing as well as anxiety and depression management.

Connect on Facebook

For more information about creative support groups or personal training with Michelle contact the Henry Street Centre in Fremantle on 9433 6957 or email michellesaleeba@msn.com or visit her website www.michellesaleeba.com


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Mandala Meditation

Guest blog post - Michelle Saleeba is a single mum to two independent teenagers and perhaps more simply a gorgeous German Shorthaired Pointer called Otis who still likes going with her for walks at the beach!   

She writes, paints and journals and tries to get on the yoga mat as often as possible.   

Michelle facilitates creative therapy support groups for women that incorporate meditation as well as visual art and writing usually in the safe container of a journal.  

Michelle is finishing her Personal Training certification and offers exercise programs and training sessions for wellbeing as well as anxiety and depression management.

Connect on Facebook

For more information about creative support groups or personal training with Michelle contact the Henry Street Centre in Fremantle on 9433 6957 or email michellesaleeba@msn.com

Much has been written on the benefits of meditation, a practice of quietening the mind as a way to relieve stress, foster relaxation and keep us comfortably focussed in the present irrespective of what is happening around us. 

While this is an incredibly valid practice and one I encourage, sitting meditation is something that takes time and dedication to reap the rewards.  Especially in times of high stress or anxiety it can be really tricky to just sit and be still, to ‘relax’, yet it is important that we do.   

Using a focal point for your meditation practice (whether you are a beginner or have an established practice this works equally well) can be beneficial to get you started and keep your attention as the inevitable thoughts, worries and noisy mind chatter stream through the conscious mind pulling us away from our needed quietening and relaxing.

Mandala drawing or colouring has a long history in meditation practice and is used as a tool in art therapy to assist the process of quietening our worries and provide a focus for centering the body and mind.  

Today there is a new idea that is gaining momentum in art therapy which involves the colouring of mandala circles as an incidental therapeutic practice.  This idea has evolved from the long tradition of using pre-drawn and coloured mandala images as a focal point in meditation to include the active participation of colouring to achieve a heightened sense of calm as we not only focus our attention but express our creative energy in a way that is both soothing and nourishing.

The popularity of Mandala colouring comes from both the portability and accessibility of the practice.  All you need is a print out of your Mandala template and colouring tools (ideas below).  You can do it anywhere with table space, or even leaning on a magazine and best of all you don’t need any specific drawing, art skills or training, just a willingness to engage with the process and give it a go.  Remember we aren’t ‘making art’ here we are practicing active meditation, so letting go of needing a particular outcome is an important part of allowing the process to flow and receiving that calming meditative benefit.

Don't think about your colour choices too much and don't worry about matching colours. Let your instincts guide you. After you've begun with the first colour, the rest will follow.  The idea that each colour you choose and place on the mandala will invite the next one is key here.  Trust the process, see how it gathers momentum. 

I recommend having a variety of mandala templates to choose from, a folder of print outs works well.  There are also template books available.  Less complicated designs are perfect for snatching 5 minutes of time for yourself and larger more complex designs are wonderful if you know you can set aside a longer period to focus on your practice.

Getting Started 

Gather your supplies

You can use any colouring tools you like, crayons, pencil crayons, chalks, pastels, paint, or markers in a variety of colours.  You can even use collage to fill in your Mandala.

Print your mandala (see links below).

Find a quiet and comfortable place.

Start colouring.

It’s that simple!

The next step is creating your own Mandala templates! 

Some Links to Mandala templates

print mandalas

mandala templates

Image provided by Tiny Sparks WA


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