Spring cleaning for your Spirit!

by Dr. Minette Riordan

If you are anything like me you are experiencing a bit of spring fever! Spring is my favorite time of year. At the Unitarian Society of Santa Barbara, our minister commented that “Spring in Santa Barbara is like icing on the cake.” What a great statement on how lucky we are to live in such a beautiful place! How can we fail to embrace the Divine when we witness the outpouring of growth and life all around us?

Although I would rather be outside admiring the purple wisteria and honeysuckle that are blooming everywhere, I realized that my Spirit could use a little spring cleaning! I love using intuitive collage as a way to make the unconscious conscious and see what needs weeding or airing out.

Creating art makes me feel alive, connected and whole again, especially after a winter of darkness and a year of pandemic.

intuitive collage

Kids and animals get frisky this time of year and are itching to get outside, run, jump, leap and play! What about you? Are you also craving the freedom to play and celebrate spring? Or perhaps, like me, you are feeling the need for spring cleaning – inside and out!

Right now my front garden needs weeding, the dandelions are taking over and it looks awful, downright embarrassing as a matter of fact. And don’t get me started on the spring cleaning that needs to happen in the rest of the house, that can wait!

Today it’s all about you and me and our relationship to ourselves.

What season are you in?

I invite you to begin be reflecting on what season you are currently experiencing in your life, maybe you aren’t feeling the spring yet or you are feeling like summer is in full bloom in your creative spirit? Maybe this is a time of reflection, renewal, discovery, adventure…

Start by taking a few moments to explore and journal about what season you are in. This internal reflection is a form of contemplative, mindful dusting of the bookshelves, going through the titles and remembering great reads or books waiting to be read. Have fun with it, don’t judge where you are, practice noticing and awareness.

expressive arts journeycircles

Here are a few additional writing prompts to get you started. Answer these questions as honestly as you can. No one will read them answers but you and afterwards you can tear them up, compost them or collage over them to create something new.

Writing prompts for spring cleaning your spirit:

1. What am I focusing on most in my life right now? Write down the first thing that pops into your mind without judgement!

2. Is this what you want to be focusing on? Again, answer honestly, no one will see this but you.

3. What weeds are growing in your inner garden that need to be rooted out to make room for new growth?

4. Once those weeds are clear, what would you like to plant in your inner garden? Joy, health, family, time, creativity, romance??? The possibilities are endless. Use your imagination to create the most glorious inner garden that you can imagine. Spend time visualizing and journaling what you want to create in your life. Remember that what you focus on grows!

Use intuitive collage to create a visual representation of what you more of in your life!

The art of intuitive collage offers a creative and magical approach to making the unconscious conscious. Intuitive collage is used by artists, art therapists, and creativity coaches to explore aspects of the self that are hidden from your conscious awareness. This practice is easy to do at home and offers a simple, effective way of exploring the hidden wonders of your inner life.

First, you do not have to be an artist or think you need some special creativity ability.

Second, intuitive collage can be very childlike and playful. The more playful you are, the more enjoyable to process.

Finally, you don’t need any fancy art supplies to get started.

What you need to create your collage:

  • Something to create it on like poster board, journal page, cereal box or my favorite, large cardboard cake rounds (available at craft stores or on Amazon.)
  • A pile of images cut from magazines, including a few photos of yourself if you’d like. Wondering where to find images? Read my resource article here.
  • A sharp pair of scissors or small Exacto knife
  • A glue stick
  • A journal for writing
  • A favorite pen

Ready to get started creating your first collage?

Here are simple, easy-to-follow instructions to create your first or 500th intuitive collage. Note: do not use words for this process. Focus on only using images and resist using words. Words are limiters and labels that tell your brain what something is. Images are expansive and unlimited, let them tell you the story.

  1. Gather your supplies ahead of time so they are easy to find and you don’t have to spend your precious time hunting them down.
  2. Make space to create: the dining room table, a desk, the living room floor… you will want space to spread out a bit.
  3. Make the space sacred: add a candle or sacred object like a rock, crystal or feather.
  4. Set the tone for your creative play time with a simple ritual like lighting the candle and taking a few deep breaths, saying a prayer or doing a quick meditation.
  5. Lay out a stack of images (it’s helpful to prepare images ahead of time but you can do this as part of the process just be sure to set a timer so you don’t get caught up in looking at the magazines and never get to the art-making.
  6. Intuitively start to select the images you want to play with. Gather, sort and lay them together to find an arrangement that pleases you.
  7. Once you’ve selected the images, you will want to cut the primary image away from it’s background. If you have a photo of a dog running in a park, cut out the dog and place it on a new background. This is where the magic really starts to happen. If you look closely at my examples you can see that they are made up of many different images trimmed and put together.
  8. Glue the images to your background when you feel ready, you might find the order changes as you glue or you feel called to replace or cover up an image. Trust the process!
  9. Once you have covered the surface with images to your satisfaction, look at it, admire it, sit with it for a few moments. You might want to take a break before journaling with your collage or not. You decide.
  10. You are most likely already seeing the story emerge through image, symbol and color. This last step is often the most powerful for people, especially if you are new to working intuitively this way. You are going to take your journal and you are going to write as if you are in conversation or dialogue with the collage. What does it have to say to you or teach you?