Friday, February 22, 2013

A New Tool - 3...{Finding Sanctuary}

This art journaling/art therapy page is titled "Frontier of the Heart" - the base is a modern road map of the western states in the US, including California, Nevada, and Utah.   Roads and town names still peek through, and make up the dividing lines of the heart in the middle.  The work is a combination of ink, pen, watercolors and watercolor pencil and I have started enjoying stitching on some of my paper projects.  This is a celebration of the journey into healing of a broken heart...and it takes the same courage and commitment to exploration as the early pioneers exhibited in traveling out into the frontier...

I thought this image might be a nice fit for this series of heart exploration we are doing...tho' not a "mind-map"!

Today we are going to take the "mind-map" that you created and take a good look at it.  Begin the reflection on what was poured out.  Let the Holy permeate through what may appear rather "unholy" at first fact, did things get disturbing for you?  Did you stop in the middle of your map?  Do not fear!  Pull that crumpled mess out of the wastebasket, tape those torn shreds back together!  He (the Lord) knows the depths of our human souls, and He longs for our hearts to feel His presence which is already there in the middle of our messy hearts, already loving and gracing the things that remain hidden AND all that has been revealed.  Take courage for He is always with you! (And He loves us anyway!)
Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.  Joshua 1:9 NASB

Now, to continue on {smiling}...

For this part of the exercise, have highlighters or colored pencils at hand.  As before, a quiet space and about 20 minutes of time will benefit the process...and your favorite cup of tea or coffee??  Make this a little date with yourself?  (And God)

1. Ask the Holy Spirit to guide the work.  Skim over your map and take note of up to 3 "First Level" branches that you feel drawn to, that you feel that as you explore these ideas, fresh revelations about your core issue may come forth.  ("First Level" branches are those whose lines connect with the center sphere.)  Highlight these in the same color so that you can come back to them in Step 4 (coming on Monday).

A Note to Remember -   Some patterns are so habitual, that taking this time to study the brain map can unveil even more connections - the Spirit has already been leading you and this tool is really just a help in hearing His whispers, eliminating the competing voices.  These steps require time to allow your mind and your heart to make strong healthy connections and to unravel the unhealthy connections.   Time for the Lord to reconfirm what you already know deep down.  Make notes, add them into the mind-map if/when these additional connections are discovered...

2.  Continue the "first order analysis". Use another color (highlighter or colored pencil) and mark all words/ideas/phrases that seem to relate, no matter which branches they are on.  Make a "key" at the edge of your paper by making a mark with your color and writing a one word summary of the idea this color represents.  By doing this step, you can get another visual of how these words/ideas are connecting in your mind.

3.  Begin the "second order analysis".  Using another piece of paper ( or your notebook or journal), make a list of each word/ideas/phrase that you marked with the same color.  Make as many lists as you used colors...

Ask yourself:

What patterns do I see?
What new thing(s) do I realize after looking at my map and the connections?
What emotion(s) is being stirred by this activity?
If there is a particular negative sounding thread, what would be the positive alternative?
Am I being pointed in a certain direction to explore further?
Am I being pointed towards a certain clear action that I can now comprehend?
(Add more questions as they come to you)...

Be careful...if this activity begins to feel like a burden and you begin sinking under a dark cloud of reproach (thoughts of self-blame, finding fault with self, discrediting self, or disapproving of self) you might be stuck in a pit of shame that is not God's heart for solution is to view the exercise as if you were helping your best friend through it; this is called an "altered point of view" - useful to circumvent this sort of self-reproach.  Another solution is to ask a trusted friend or Godly spouse to help.  Or perhaps it is time to seek a period of wise counsel to deal with the issue of shame and the need for resilience in your heart.

Write your answers in your journal...all the questions may not apply, and new ones may be aroused...
If you find yourself "stuck" in doing step 3, get up and do something else for a while.  If a thought comes to you, quickly jot it down and bring it with you the next time you have 20 minutes carved out of your day to do this focused work. 

Has 20 minutes flown by?  You should walk away from the work every 20 minutes anyway in order to allow your mind a break in concentration and for you to continue to make connections.

Feel free to share in the comments how your work is progressing, or if you want to share privately, email me at

Coming up:  Monday - Step 4
                     Tuesday - Biblical Thoughts on Anger - It occurred to me that my topic might require 
                                     more of an explanation as anger can be quite the volatile issue...and to share
                                     with you the growth that has brought me to this point...
                     Wednesday - More Information about Anger
                     Thursday - Reflections
                     Friday - I'll share my mind-map and analysis work.


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