Weaving is one of the oldest forms of art making and historically was used for practical purposes to create warm clothing and blankets. In current times, macramé wall hangings have made a resurgence to adorn our living spaces. A finished weaving therefore can serve many purposes. The process of creating a woven piece can also have therapeutic value and can effectively be used in therapeutic group settings.
Girls at Maryvale’s residential campus learned step by step how to create a special weaving piece, first by learning different fabric dying techniques such as tie dye. Then they moved on to the labourious task of creating just the right tension in the ropes of the loom to hold the strips of fabric in place. They worked as a team to organize the colored strips together and weave them together. Finally, they adorned the weaving with messages oftheir choice, including those of hope and intentional living.
Throughout the process, conversations came up about patience, what happens when things don’t go the way you expect and how to compromise. These are important life lessons that were able to happen in the moment as a part of the therapeutic art process with the guidance of two Art Therapists. I was honored to co-facilitate this social skills based therapeutic art group.
Please note that the art product was created from the beginning with the intention of sharing with a public audience, and the participants of the weaving group were aware of this as well. The girls were able to select personal pieces that they made to keep for themselves, while this final piece found a special place on campus at Maryvale. Any identifying information was removed.
Recently I was visiting a family member in the Pacific Northwest and I got to see for the first time the most beautiful wild raspberries that were ready to be picked and eaten! There was no lack of raspberries to pick from, though pulling each one off did take some intention and care. We gently pressed and pulled the raspberries off their stems and placed them carefully in a basket before bringing them in to wash. It was strangely so satisfying to focus on such a simple task.
The thought of doing a simple task with intention and care, and slowing down to do so, is an important one. In our modern lives we are often rushing from one place to another, on auto pilot, sometimes literally with our phones doing more and more of the thinking for us! It can be hard to slow down, even when we want to- pressure to get the bills paid, be productive, take the children to school, dance class, etc.
Being present and taking care with simple things can help manage stress, anxiety and cultivate more satisfaction in our lives. Here are some ways you can slow down throughout your day and be present and grounded in your everyday life:
Set your alarm 5 minutes before your morning wake up call and use that time to sit up in bed (not hit snooze!), take some slow deep breaths and check in with how your body is feeling after a night’s rest. Check in with your thoughts- where is your emotional space when you wake up?
During your work day, take a walk or just leave the office for a few minutes to go outside, take a look at the trees outside and notice- how is the weather? Is there a breeze? What sounds do you hear? Sit down and take a few deep breaths- how does the air smell?
Put some lotion on your hands and notice how the lotion feels- a moment of simple self care during the day can do wonders!
Got a lot on your mind when you get home? Take a few minutes before bed to journal (or as I prefer- sketch!) anything that is on your mind. Creating a ritual such as this before bed can help us wind down (and reflect) from the day.
I hope these simple tips are helpful ways of cultivating being present in your life!
Brooke Bender, LMFT is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and Board Certified Art Therapist in private therapy practice in Arcadia, CA. She specializes in helping children and adults overcome traumatic events through art, EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing) and other modalities.