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The Power of Doodling

I love to doodle. To me, doodling is aimless, playful, unconscious fun. Time to shift out of “to-do” mode and into “let loose” mode. For years, my doodles were in pen-and-ink on the corner of notebook pages executed during boring lectures, but over time they’ve become bolder, more outrageous, more colorful, and more life enhancing. One day, I realized that if I finished the doodles to completion, messages came through them. The messages seemed to arise from my unconscious, the wiser, more connected part of myself. I now make time for them rather than having them be unintentional accidents. I engage them if I feel a bit out of sorts, bored, flat, or simply want to have some fun.

Just before I sat to write this blog, this bold and present turkey-like bird emerged from swirling colors, just days after Thanksgiving and a trip to the magnificent “Bosque del Apache,” in south-central New Mexico where thousands of migratory birds in flight darken the sky at dusk and dawn. The birds seek sanctuary each winter where it is safe, on the shallow waters of the Rio Grande.

This “she–bird” I’ve drawn is the perfect inspiration for what I hope this blog will be about—a sanctuary for anyone healing from trauma, looking for a happier, more creative life, or wanting to reinvent themselves after loss or disappointment.

As an art therapist and life coach, I’ve witnessed how, if left unexpressed, un-engaged, or unexamined, trauma contracts the soul. As a result, these painful experiences can cause us to lose our joy, our ability to speak up, to be bold, to tell the truth.

Creating art—especially the kind free from rules of technique or the intent of being sold— is a form of pure expression that helps the soul to heal, to gather its colors, and reclaim its vitality.

This is a remarkable time on the planet. Victims of abuse, trauma, and exploitation are coming forward in great numbers to speak, to be heard, to break through the silence and the shame that abuse engenders. I am hopeful that my sharing of what has helped me heal from trauma, as well as what I’ve witnessed in working with hundreds of clients, can reach more of you who feel there is a larger life calling. I hope to empower those of you who yearn to express, create, be bold, heal, and embrace life.

Call to action:

Jump-Start Your Own Doodle Process

1)   Start with black or white drawing or construction paper and chalk or oil pastels. (These items can be purchased on-line at any art supply site for less than $25.00)

2)   Go where you can be alone, without distraction for at least 20 minutes. (Turn off your cell phone, etc.).  You may want to light a candle to invoke the sacred.

3)   Clear your mind of anything you think you are supposed to be doing and take three deep breaths inhaling to five and exhaling to five.

4)   Ask yourself the question: What color aligns itself with the way I feel right now? Select it from the box.

5)   Now ask yourself: What shape best expresses what I feel right now? Draw it.

6)   Let yourself explore how you feel through colors and shapes, letting each addition signal what wants to be expressed.  Let it flow, don’t judge it, and follow what your intuition tells you to do next.  Allow yourself to play without a focus on the product.

7)   Continue to work until you have a strong sense that you are done.

8)   Put the image on the wall, away from you at least 5-10 feet and let yourself gaze upon it.

9)   In your journal, write down what the image seems to be saying.  You can even ask the image questions and see what comes up.  Journal whatever thoughts and feelings arise for you. If you relate to this process allow yourself to do a “doodle-a-day.”  You may notice that you feel less constricted, more open, more alive.  You may also find your dreams are more vivid and memorable.

Most importantly  – HAVE FUN!!!!