A time to pause and reflect on where you are, where you stand, where you’ve been and what’s to come.
Time to explore with our senses, notice yourself, your material, the space and people around you. This workshop/ post is by Linnea, Ottawa’s friendly neighborhood art therapist and death doula. For more information on them, or art therapy, check out the links included. A gentle reminder that art therapy is more about making art that feels good rather than looks good. It is an invitation to explore the process. Creating can sooth us, and help us take a deeper look into ourselves.
[If you are reading this you may be participating in Art for Mental Health’s Paint Fest event. If that applies to you, thank you so much for supporting such a great cause. It is events and organizations such as these that reduce the stigma surrounding mental health struggles. Also bring awareness and funds to YouthNet/ReseauAdo, Ottawa’s for-youth-by-youth mental health organization. Thank you for your support!]
Traditionally, maps are used as a tool to prevent you from getting lost. They help you know where you are and the endless possibilities of where you can go. Although life does not come with a map to show us what our future looks like. Nor body maps, to better understand where and how we feel things, we can always make our own.
Included here are just a few examples of maps you can make. These are suggestions, you are always welcome to do your own thing. Art is meant to celebrate individuality and creative expression.
5 Maps Mindful Maps to Make
1- Celebration Map
I notice that sometimes we forget to celebrate the little accomplishments in our lives. Maybe we are too shy to share our successes, or too busy jumping to the next challenge. It is important to honor and acknowledge the little steps we have made in our everyday lives. Having a space, even a small one, to capture successes in our lives can help us through those challenging times. It can help us change the narrative from “ I can’t do this.” to “Look at all the things I have done thus far.” Celebrate the small (and big) stuff with this activity!
2- Breathing Map
I started making breathing maps after the completion of my Mindfulness based Art Therapy course. I found that the simplicity of this directive can easily help me ground myself. Making a breathing map involves taking the time to slow down, and notice each breath. Exploring the texture, the temperature, the sensations that accompany it. Imagine it as an image or maybe a movement. As I have written about breathing maps before, feel free to check out my previous post on this topic.
3- Body Map
Making a body map requires taking a moment to check in with your body. Notice how your body feels at this given moment. Notice what parts of your body feel at ease, feel relaxed, or calm. You might also notice the areas that feel tight, sore or may require more resourcing. Notice them. Explore them in as much detail as you are comfortable with. Next step is to make it visual. This can be as realistic or abstract, it can include as much or as little detail as you want it to.
4- Map of the Heart
Inspired by the Brene Brown’s book, Atlas of the Heart, I decided to make myself a map of my heart. I made this at a time where I felt a bit lost, and unsure of my role in my own life. Intended to highlight my passions and strength, this large collage has helped affirm my own interests. Although I used the image of an anatomical heart, any shape, colour, medium is welcome when creating this.
Questions to contemplate:
What things in my life bring me the most joy?
What strengths do you want to highlight?
What areas or activities help ground you?
What sparks your creativity?
5- Life Map
Not unlike a celebration map, a life map can show you where you’ve been and where you are going. While making this map it might be nice to think about the areas in your life you want to grow, explore or create. Outlining your intentions for the future can help affirm and remind you of your goals. If you choose display your creation is a visible area, it can act as a constant reminder of the intentions you set yourself up for.
Maps come in all shapes and sizes, mediums and modalities. The directives mentioned above are primarily visual suggestions, you are welcome to branch off and explore with words, movement or sounds if that is more your style. If none of these creative invitations inspire you, feel free to go off book, make your own map, of a place you love, a feeling you wish to savor, or anything that sparks your interest.
Feel free to share your creation with me on instagram, feel free to tag us at @eyesopenstudio.
Happy mindful map making!