Ancient medicine, with its timeless attunement with nature, provides a complete complement to modern medicine’s approach that has developed immediate, branches-to-roots, symptom-oriented, and scientifically advanced medical solutions. Certainly, many of these modern solutions are undeniably important and necessary in particular circumstances, especially those of urgency and emergency. However, in order to balance this approach, we can find more long-term, roots-to-branches, individual-oriented, and ancient (yet enduring) medicinal solutions.
As a recap from previous articles, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is my ancient medicinal lens of choice, one of many valid lenses’, such as Ayurveda (of India), ancient Egyptian medicine, traditional African medicine, and Native American medicine. Each of these branches has common roots in embracing nature and allowing it to inform the medicine created, typically by attuning with the Earthly seasons. The ancients understood that our bodies move through cycles just as the Earth moves through seasons. TCM harnesses this connection through the earthly elements of Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal, and Water. Each element has its strongest influence and potential during one of five earthly seasons (Spring, Summer, Late Summer, Autumn, and Winter, respectively) and within one of five organ pairs in the body (Liver-Gallbladder, Heart-Small Intestine, Spleen-Stomach, Lung-Large Intestine, and Kidney-Bladder respectively). Thus, these dials are currently set at the element of Wood, the Spring season, and the organ pair Liver-Gallbladder. We can take a full Liver-Gallbladder cleanse for a more immersive and disciplined TCM experience (more information available in Volume 3-Issue 2 Springtime is for Liver Strengthening). Still, there are many additional ways we can attune with Spring and embrace the Wood element in our bodies. In this example, we will explore our creativity and personal goals through a Vision Board.
The Wood element is all about growth, creation, and expansion. These qualities are deeply embedded in the Spring season and support creatively planning or mapping out our dreams. As you may know, a vision board is a collage of images and words depicting a particular and personal dream or vision. It is a valuable creative tool for attuning with the Spring season and the Wood element. However, before even beginning to gather supplies or create a board, it is important to take a moment and reflect on the Self and the Heart’s deepest desires.
*To help explain this process, I spoke with Monica Good Dawn, creator and owner of Moon Wellness & Company in Sioux City, Iowa, who offers a range of wellness opportunities, especially for women and womb care. One of her offerings is a New Year Vision Board Workshop, where Good Dawn assists patrons each step of the way as they create their unique and tangible vision for the year in art form.
First, find a quiet space; somewhere you feel safe, comfortable, and as if it is yours. Removing external stimulation in a safe space primes the mind and body for inner exploration. Then, find a comfortable place for your body to be still, seated in some way, or even lying down. Wherever you find yourself, feel the ground beneath you, even if you are in a chair or on a bed; notice how these props simply bring the ground up to meet you.
Now, take notice of your breath as you feel the ground, and begin to intentionally source the breath from the belly (rather than the chest or throat). Keep awareness of the ground as you deepen and slow your breath. Notice those pauses in between breaths. After several rounds, it may feel as if you are pulling the breath straight out of the ground. You may deepen this sensation by envisioning the core of the Earth as your natural breath cycle develops, deep in the belly and much slower than an active breath cycle.
Keep your breath cycle going with that grounded, almost magnetic, inner body experience. Now, bring your awareness to the seat of the Self, which resides just a few fingers width below the belly button. But within the body, think of the space between your belly and lower back. Focus your awareness in this space for several rounds of breath. Notice that the self is not just the mind or the thoughts. The Seat of the Self is more centrally located in the body and is a source of a deep, inner knowing. Tap into this knowing by reflecting on a few qualities that make up you as you continue to breathe. Allow these qualities to come to mind naturally and effortlessly; let the inner knowing speak.
Finally, keep your awareness gently resting at the Seat of the Self as you open your focus to the Heart Center. Feel this space from which you love. Perhaps, bring to mind someone or something which you love, and focus on the felt sense; that warm, melty expansion within the chest. Take several rounds of breath as you unite the Seat of the Self with the Heart’s deepest desires for the next year. Allow yourself to reflect as you focus on the space. Perhaps you want to travel to the mountains, start painting, or simply be more aware of your food choices. What do you truly desire for the coming year? What are your intentions?
For Good Dawn’s workshop, creators (a term she so fittingly coined) were fortunate to experience a sound bath. Attuned vibrations of the singing bowl provide a cleansing, clearing, and deeply felt sense. According to Good Dawn, this moment of inner reflection is important for developing a clear vision of the future self.
Intentionally Gather Supplies
Once you have taken a moment of reflection, you are ready to start gathering supplies. Good Dawn states that a vision board can take on many different forms, such as physical forms on a canvas or poster or even digital forms on Canva or other apps compatible with collage building.
Here are some general supplies Good Dawn recommends for the physical (rather than digital) form of a vision board:
- Visuals. This is another element of your vision board that can take many forms. The most common form is magazine clippings, but you could also use printed pictures from the internet, stickers, drawings, paintings, words from affirmation books, or photos. For a more outside-the-box approach, perhaps use items with more dimensions, such as fake flowers, fabric, cotton balls, metal work, or anything you can paste or secure onto your board. Use whatever suits you and your intentions for this vision board. Think back to the meditation and remember what came to mind upon reflection of your heart’s deepest desires for the next year. Allow these desires to inform your choices in visuals.
- Some sort of element onto which you can paste visuals, such as a poster board, canvas, or construction paper.
Creating Your Vision Board
Once you have gathered all the visuals for your board and have your canvas of sorts, you are ready to start placement of each piece. Good Dawn recommends simply placing all the visuals on your board before gluing them on to allow for rearrangement and creative flow as you discover the best home for each piece. Take your time here, and, as Good Dawn says, trust the process. It is typical to question yourself and the process during creating, but keep coming back to the breath, the beautiful vision developed from your heart, and allow your inner knowing to guide you.
When you are happy with the placement of your visuals, glue them onto their new permanent home! Collages typically have layers, so be patient with any awkward gluing or flipping you may have to do. Finally, step away and allow your creation to dry fully for a few hours. Once it is dry, hang it in a place where you can see it every day to remind yourself of your Self, your Heart, and your Vision. This creative map of your dreams will allow you to deeply embrace the Spring season and the Wood element.
By Emily Larson