Last week I attended a free ‘Relaxation and Healing’ seminar held at a wellness center near my home. The instructor started the class by leading us through a series of guided meditations. After we reached a deep state of relaxation she handed each of us a large sheet of paper and a handful of markers.
We were each asked to draw a horizontal line across the middle of the page, followed by a series of hash marks representing the events of our day. The events could be big, (like going for a two hour run), or small, (like brushing your teeth after getting out of bed). After ticking off all of the events of the day she told us to choose a color to reflect each event. For example, if you woke up happy you could use a bright yellow color to represent the sun rising at the start of a brand new day. On the other hand, if you woke up cranky and tired, after hitting the snooze button fifteen times, you might choose black or red.
Some people in the class scribbled wildly across the page like first graders, while others drew shapes and objects to represent the details of the events that transpired throughout the day. If the event was positive the instructor asked us to draw or color the area above the line. If the event was negative we were asked to draw or color the area below the line. By the end of the exercise most of us had a roller coaster of colors and shapes swirling up and down across the line.
The goal of the exercise is two-fold. First, it forces you to reflect on the activities of your day. Most of us go through the motions of daily living without taking any time to reflect on what we do or accomplish. Second, the activity forces you to recognize the emotional patterns involved with each activity. For example, if work activities are constantly drawn below the line with red and black, then you might want to consider changing jobs or careers. If you find a lack of enjoyable activities throughout your day this exercise might force you to set aside a few minutes each day for a little pleasure. Ultimately, the goal is to experience more activities above the line than below it.
When I came home I walked my husband through the details of my drawing and explained how the instructor encouraged us to perform this exercise daily. My husband wholeheartedly supported the idea, so yesterday, after a much-needed, three-day weekend I drove over to CVS and bought a 50 page portfolio journal along with a new pack of crayons. I started the journal the minute after I came home.