When Shakti Gawain’s book Creative Visualization came out in 1978, it became my holy scripture for the material prosperity and spiritual growth I desired. The author explained how to use mental imagery and affirmations to produce positive changes in one’s life, and how to use meditation exercises to “channel energy in positive directions, strengthen self-esteem, improve overall health, and experience deep relaxation.” I used this guide for everything from losing weight to keeping my wandering husband faithful. And while it was more successful for the former than the latter, visualization has continued to be one of my most valued life skills.
Sometime in the 80s, I learned how to concretize my goals, desires and aspirations by making “treasure maps.” A group of women gathered with poster board, scissors, and piles of magazines. We spoke into the room what we each wanted to express and then cut, tore and arranged words and pictures, threw in some photographs (I was counseled to always include a picture of myself) and tried not to get tipsy from rubber cement fumes.
Since then, I have made dozens of these “dream boards” (as I’ve come to call them). I noticed my chosen images always included tropical beaches, Italian villas, tango dancers, hot tubs and beautiful men, but sometimes the goal of my creative visualization was very specific: a new camera or computer, acceptance at the Squaw Valley Community of Writers summer program, a job that brought me joy. I purchased a packet of stick-on stars like the kind my first grade teacher put on my papers; when one of the dream items materialized, I acknowledged that on my board with a star.
A friend of mine has developed this art of collage to inspirational heights. Her studio is full of art books scored at Goodwill, magazine tears organized into folders, envelopes of words and letters, glitter paper, paste-on jewels, pastels, colored pencils, markers and paints. I’ve counted on her eye for design when I get stuck, and sometimes we have worked together at her kitchen table, where she has provided graphic “enhancements” from her generous supply. Now I make collages to give away, like she does, for birthdays, weddings and recently, memorial services.
Whether you make a physical paste-and-paper collage or articulate your desires and goals only in your mind as you fall asleep, there is nothing selfish or egotistical about stating what you want. I’ve found that this developmental process provides deep self-knowledge, and often your dreams do come true.