Where have you come from?
What are your core values?
What do you do with trauma, stress and negative impact in your life?
What do you do to nurture and self care?
What are your dreams?
How are you providing health, healing and solace to those around you?
These are the questions that you will be answering in this art therapy session.
Don’t panic – I will guide you through the process. It is very simple and easy for everyone to do and is designed to:
1: Help you to understand how your origins impact on your future
2: Deal with the manure in your life
3: Help you to flourish and realise your dreams and hopes
4: Assist and bring life to those around you.
Key poetry references for you to meditate on : Psalm 92 and Revelation 22: The Bible
“Those who have good values will flourish like palm trees;
they will grow like a cedar in Lebanon.
they will flourish in the courts of God.
They will still bear fruit in old age,
they will stay fresh and green”.
“Down the middle of the great street of the city.
On each side of the river stood the tree of life,
bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month.
And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.
You guessed it – you will be creating your own “Trees of Life” which will be a reflection of who you are.
You will have a visible tool to help you reflect on: your root system, soil, self-care, strength, vision and your ability to give to and nourish others.
Tools: You will need:
- a large piece of art paper or butchers paper – A2 is great
- optional for the arty types: (any art supplies that you want to use – paint, pencils, crayons. Whatever you love to use).
Step One: Preparation
Draw a line across the bottom 1/4 of your paper.
Step Two: Trunk of the tree
On your butcher paper draw an outline of your forearm and hand starting from the line that you just drew.
Leave the end of your finger tips open-ended.
Step Three: Root System
Draw in the root system of the tree. Remember that for most trees the roots mirror the canopy of the tree. You may not have as much room to reflect that accurately but this will assist you to draw a large root system. Leave many of the roots quite thick, and also add smaller and finer roots.
Step Four: Branches
From the end of the fingers add in smaller branches. Possibly three or four from the top of each finger.
Step Five: Leaves
From the branches add leaves – in whatever shape that you want.
Make them large enough to write within each leaf – which you will do later.
You may if you wish cut out leaves from coloured paper. You could then glue the leaves on to the end of the branches.
Step Six: Compost Bin
On the right hand side of the tree, on the soil, draw a rectangle. This will become your compost bin.
Now you are going to write on your page – or draw if you wish.
1: Starting with the root system. Ask yourself these questions.
- Where have I come from: heritage, country, family unit?
- What core things did I learn in my childhood?
- Who has had a foundational impact in my life?
- What values have you inherited?
Write these things along your root system. It could be a country, a name of a person, values you learned from your family of origin. E.G.: humour, high work ethic, creativity, punctuality, hospitality, faith. Make sure that they are positive inclusions. These things become a frame-work for who you are and where you have come from.
2: Move up to the trunk of the tree. Think of about 4 – 6 CORE VALUES that are the sum of who you are. What are your none negotiable values? Who are you – the core strength of you? If you were to raise children what sort of children would you want them to be. This will help you to reflect your core values. Do you want them to be kind? Respectful? Honest? Resilient? Loving? Trustworthy? Etc…
Write these words along the trunk of your tree.
3: Move up to the five main branches. Along these branches I want you to write out your dreams and visions. What are your hopes or dreams for the future. Think of the branches of the tree stretching up and out to the future.
If the roots represent where you have come from, the trunk who you are. Then the branches represent your vision – where you hope to go.
4: The smaller branches can also continue to reflect your vision and hopes. They could also be your legacy. What to you want to leave behind for future generations?
NOTE: Because your life is a work in process, it is okay to leave blank spaces. Your story is your life and your life is your story and whilst you are alive it is not complete. I have sections in my tree – visions and hopes that are still blank. I will work on this in the months to come as I reflect and meditate.
5: And the leaves shall be for the healing of the nations.
We are trees of life to all that we meet. We should be able to offer shelter from a storm and shade on a hot day. We should be a pleasant and peaceful place to rest. To lean upon.
Leaves: Ask yourself. When someone comes into my orbit of care. What do I offer them? If the leaves are for healing – what is the fruit or nourishment that I give out?
It could be things like: love, joy, peace, goodness, gentleness. Maybe listening, solitude, understanding, mercy, grace, hope, compassion.
When people come to us – is this what they experience?
6: Compost Bin.
All of us have had manure, compost, refuse thrown at us. It may come in the form of trauma, stress, grief, loss, death or sickness. It may be negative words that have been spoken over you. Acts of violence or abandonment. I want to you put all of these things in your compost bin.
Did you know that compost and mulch are the very things that nurture the tree and help it to grow? It is the manure that stinks so bad that actually makes the soil sweet. It is the manure that feeds the root system of the tree and makes the tree healthy and stronger.
“Healthy soil teems with more than a billion microorganisms per teaspoon and the behavior of those organisms facilitates hardy plant life. To fertilize their fields, regenerative farmers use nutrient-rich manure or compost” (source)
Barren soil easily erodes. The plant does not flourish and it is prone to pests and disease. Therefore it is vitally important for our health that we deal with the manure and allow the process of transformation. Frequent turning will help speed the composting process. Bacteria and other microorganisms are the real workers in the compost process. By supplying organic materials, water, and oxygen, the already present bacteria will break down the plant material into useful compost.
This means we do need to air our dirty laundry. We do need to give it air, name it, process it, and allow oxygen and movement to transform it into nutrient rich compost that will feed and nourish the tree. Your life. Do this with safe people and in safe places.
7: Finally the Soil
Along the soil on the other side of the tree I want you to write down all the things you do on a daily and weekly basis to water and feed the soil.
What things to you do to self-care?
The tree needs watering, it needs the soil turned over. It needs the weeds pulled up.
Do you take time out to care for yourself?
Do you spend time watering your own soul?
The more you feed, water and nourish your self, the more fruit and leaves you will produce to nurture and feed those around you.
This is a picture of my tree. Its pretty simple visually but has really helped me to see my life in a more positive way.
Some questions to ask yourself:
Are you green and flourishing? Are you producing fruit? Are you spending time to self-care? Are you being intentional about turning manure into compost? Are you a place of shade, shelter and healing to those around you?
I hope that this exercise has helped you in some way.
I would really love to get your feedback.
Whilst you do this exercise, make sure you take time to listen to your soul. To meditate and journal your thoughts.
Go crazy and make it into a piece of art.
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