by Lucia Capacchione, Ph.D., A.T.R., R.E.A.T.
Based on Dr. Capacchione's book, Visioning: Ten Steps to Designing the Life of Your Dreams (Tarcher/Putnam)
Step 1: Making a wish or setting the intention. The Visionary begins by asking the question: What do I want? What is my true heart's desire at this time in my life? The answer becomes a focus phrase written on a card and displayed during the collage process, or written at the bottom of the art paper as the title of the collage. The wish can pertain to any area of one’s life.
Step 2: Searching for images and words. The task here is to gather pictures, captions and phrases from magazines and other publications, which have lots of photos. One's personal collection of snapshots, postcards or greeting cards can also be used. The emphasis is on what experience the Visionary wants in her life rather than simply picturing “stuff” to be acquired. The rule is to collect photos and phrases that depict one's deepest wishes, to "Grab what grabs you". The sky's the limit.
Step 3: Focusing on the vision. Here the Visionary sorts through the pile of torn or cut out images and words. The question is asked of each picture, word or phrase: Does this express my innermost wishes, my fondest dreams? If it relates to the theme, it's in. If not, it's out.
Step 4: Composing the design. The Visionary starts laying the pictures and words out on a poster board or large art paper, mixing and matching, experimenting with size and placement, in order to accurately portray the dream. There is no right or wrong way to do it. Every individual is different. There is no gluing at this point, only the arranging of images and words on the board or paper.
Step 5: Experiencing creative chaos. Chaos is a natural part of any creative or design process. It may come as confusion caused by doubts. This often happens as one gets closer to the time when pictures will be glued down, and a commitment will be made. Negative self-talk may start with phrases like, "Why am I doing this?" Or "I don't know how to do this," (as if there were a set way such collages should look, which there isn't). Perhaps an inner art critic starts in: "This is ugly and stupid. People will really laugh when they see this stuff." Worse yet is the voice that says the entire activity is a waste of time. This phase holds the biggest challenge: perseverance in the face of self-doubt. Journal work (using both hands) is suggested for dealing with the warring factions in the mind. The dominant hand writes for the inner critic, the non-dominant hand (the one we don’t normally write with) writes for the true heart's desire.
Step 6: Creating the collage. Here the Visionary finalizes the design of the collage, gluing all the pieces together on the paper or, poster board. Gradually the images and words that speak for the dream are being committed to paper and glued down for good. It is an experience of surrender to some inner knowing, to the Creative Self who has a vision and speaks from the heart. By combining photos and captions, new and personal meaning is given to the images and words that were selected.
Step 7: Articulating the vision. After the collage is completed, the Visionary reflects upon it, sitting quietly and contemplating the images and words. What does the collage say? What surprises does it hold? Are there any doubts or obstacles to taking this Visioning® collage seriously and believing that it will come true? One question to be avoided is, "How am I going to make this dream happen?" Visionaries are asked to surrender and allow the dream to materialize rather than to force it. Next, journal activities are used for writing impressions, thoughts and feelings about the collage. The visual right brain has its say (in art) and the verbal left brain gets to talk (through writing), so both hemispheres of the brain are activated.
Step 8: Reinforcing the dream. The art work or Vision is called a visual affirmation. Much like verbal affirmations or positive self-talk, the collage reinforces the desired goal. By looking at the collage repeatedly each day, the Visionary applies practical imagination or what Walt Disney called “imagineering.” The clearer the collage image is, the easier it is to recognize when the dream starts to become reality. This daily practice of looking at the collage develops visual imagination, something that all artists, designers, architects and inventors use. These are design principles applied to life.
Step 9: Embracing the reality. This step involves the ability to recognize signs that the dream is becoming a reality. The specific and realistic nature of photo collages makes this easy. The pictures start to match physical reality in everyday life. However, some questions may still arise. "Can I afford it? Do I have time for it? Does my life situation permit me to have this? Will it really happen or will something interfere? Do I deserve it? Will I be disappointed in the long run?" More journal work is done at this point. Also it is time for gathering a support system, friends and loved ones who encourage our dream, experts or mentors who can provide coaching.
Step 10: Celebrating the dream come true. This step may seem obvious, but it is often ignored. It is extremely important, however, to acknowledge ourselves for a job well done. Architects, designers, artists, authors and the like all announce the birth of their dream-come-true with receptions, grand openings, book signing, etc. Self-acknowledgment builds self-confidence. Celebrating enables us to express gratitude to others, starting with a prayer or some other ritual of thanksgiving. It is also a time to thank all the members of one's personal support team as well. The process has been brought to completion, the destination has been reached. Celebrate your dream come true!