Artwork © 2015 Jocelyn Patrick

Suggestions for Healing

Content © Sara Lambert. Originally published in Team Spirit. Reprinted with permission.

Hope Jar:
Take a glass jar, paint it or cover it with stars. Every time something good happens to you, something special, an insight or wish, write it down on a piece of paper and put it in the jar. Alternatively, you can keep a little book of such messages. When you are feeling down and despairing, take out your messages and read them through, and remember that there is hope for happiness and healing in the world. You may also want to write a letter of hope to yourself, then give it to a friend to post back to you, as a surprise some time when they see you are in need of encouragement.
The Healing Road:
Draw the course of your life from the past, through the present, and into the imagined future. Start with where you've come from - for you, this may be your childhood, or it may be when you first began to remember. Then track your progress & forecast your future way. What is the surrounding environment like, and how clear are the boundaries between it and your path? Where are you on the path, and is there anyone/anything with you? Can you see the end of your path? Does it lie straight ahead, or branch off into different possible futures? If you keep this picture, you'll be able to come back to it later and see what progress you are making on the journey, and discover that things may have changed for you, including the view you have of your future.
Hidden Messages:
Hide messages of self-nurturance all around your house - in books, under cushions, in coat pockets - places where you will find them unexpectedly, little reminders of your worth.
Resource Tree:
Draw a tree with all the things that keep you going in life as its leaves. People, books, music, rain or sunshine, the feel of the earth under your feet or the thought of god in heaven, stuff big or small. Use colors to express feeling. Show your roots. Keep your tree, do another in two months' time, and see how your life (and you) are changing. Remember to record with each tree what things are like for you at the time, and how the picture makes you feel.
Practice Kindness:
Practice random mindless kindness, and commit senseless acts of beauty. For example, put inspirational poems or dried flowers inside a library book. You'll soon find that what goes around comes around.
Make A Scapecoat:
For this you can use old scraps of cloth or other material. Detail in painting, writing, and with things pinned and stitched to it all the insults, traumas, wounds, scars you've endured in your life ...
"I've kept the coat hung from the ceiling in the hallway and every time I walked near it, instead of feeling bad, I felt good. I found myself admiring the [spirit] of the woman who could wear such a coat and still be walking ... singing, creating, and wagging her tail ... some times we call them battlecoats, for they are proof of the endurance, the failures and the victories of individual women" (Women Who Run With the Wolves).
Your Inner Garden:
Imagine yourself in a beautiful garden. It is safe here; you are free to explore; you need only bring curiosity and innocence with you. This is a sacred, healing place. It belongs to you. Nothing can be here that you don't wish to be. As you walk through your garden, become aware of what your senses are bringing you - the little sounds of wind and birds and leaves, the smells, the myriad of colors, the feel of the ground beneath your feet. Breathe deeply of the air. What is your garden like? Are there special places for different people - a play area for the children, a big old chair under a willow tree for someone, a clearing bright with tiny flowers for someone else? Would you like to have this garden as a place you can come to whenever you need to tap into your spirituality and be peacefully with yourself? Are there areas that need work? How does it feel to contemplate clearing up what might have been neglected for so long, dig up things that have been buried for years, and remove what has outgrown its usefulness? The symbolism of doing this kind of work in your imaginary garden will be translated by your unconscious mind into making progress in your healing work. Even when you take a break from it for a while, your unconscious will continue the work for you. You may return to your garden days or weeks later to find new growth there. From an idea by Nancy Napier.
A Memory Room:
A memory room is a safe place you can store your memories and return later to contemplate them. For this purpose it needs to be a comfortable, private and secure place. It can either be a real room, a part of a room, or an imaginary room. You may like to furnish it with cosy chairs or cushions. You may like to put double or triple locks on the doors and windows, and/or have a guard. Other ideas include pictures of loved ones or favorite places on the walls, lots of pot plants, wallpaper in your favorite color, plenty of toys for the children. You may even choose to have a meadow, beach or forest as your imaginary room, with the horizon and sky as the walls and ceiling. There are many different ways to store your memories in this room. You may have them in a kind of treasure chest, or in a scrapbook (written notes and/or pictures), or as murals on the walls, or painted on the floor, or as images that take shape in the air when you call on them. The possibilities are limited only by your imagination. You are also free to mix and match, and change the type of storage as often as you wish. You can also store images separate from knowledge and feelings. Having a memory room is a positive way of using your dissociative skills. The room can be a safe place to put your memories, keeping them outside of your immediate awareness. It can also ensure that, when you do choose to look at your memories, you enter a safe and comfortable place to do so.
From Harm To Hope:
If you are someone who harms your body (and some trauma survivors do), then this suggestion is for you. It may also be helpful for those of you who feel disconnected from parts of your body. Try drawing flowers or messages of affirmation with pen directly onto the skin where you cut, or where you have lost feeling. Or, especially if you hurt your arms, make a bracelet of leather, beads, or felt, and write on it your positive messages, or the names of your loved ones. Hopefully these words will still be there when you go to harm your body again, and you will have the reminder of all the good reasons not to self-mutilate. You can also buy gifts for abused/neglected parts of your body. These may include beautiful lingerie or clothes, pieces of material that feel wonderful against your skin, perfumes or essential oils, jewelry, fine soaps. If the thought of treasuring your body is too much to bear, and the lure to cut impossible to ignore, then try to reach for a red pen instead of a knife. That way, you'll still see the violent effects of your fury and self-hatred without doing any permanent damage.