Welcome!

Thank you for visiting. Here you will find posts based on my book The Power of Your Other Hand: Unlocking creativity and inner wisdom through the right side of your brain (new edition, 2019 Conari Press), featuring excerpts from the book, success stories from readers and students, my own experiences, and drawing and writing prompts using this technique. Enjoy!
~Lucia Capacchione, Phd, ATR

Thursday, August 15, 2019

The Non-Dominant Hand as a Guide Through Grief

This week's guest blogger is Claire Perkins — an artist, author, and expressive arts coach. During an experience of deep grief, Claire discovered the healing and awakening power of expressive art and journaling, which she now brings to her clients. Trained in the Creative Journal Expressive Arts (CJEA) method, Transformational Life Coaching, Active Dreaming and SoulCollage®, she gently guides people to deeper self awareness, inner healing and awakening with a juicy mix of simple expressive art, dream work and journaling.

The Non-Dominant Hand as a Guide Through Grief

Fifteen years ago, after years of struggling with his addiction, my eldest son died of an accidental overdose at age 26. My worst nightmare had come to pass. It was a grief unlike anything I'd ever experienced.

Yet by some stroke of divine order, six months prior to Cameron's death, I had begun studying with Lucia Capacchione and learning, among other things, the power of drawing and journaling with my non-dominant hand. Who knew that my own left hand would become so instrumental in leading me through grief into healing?

About a week before Cameron died, I had an ominous dream in which a giant wave - like a tsunami - came crashing up through city streets and skyscrapers. In a room in one of the buildings, I could see a small, frightened boy. When I awoke from this dream, I sensed it had something to do with my son and it left me feeling uneasy. I had often thought of him as drowning - drowning in an ocean of unhappiness, anger and addiction. I titled the dream, "The Big Wave."

I spent some time creating a collage of this dream. It was almost as if the dream was continuing on paper. I filled a poster-sized sheet of paper with many kinds of water images and images of small children. At the bottom right, I placed images of two women, perhaps aspects of myself, observing this watery scene.

When I learned of Cameron's death a week later, I knew that the Big Wave had finally claimed him. He had drowned in the sea of his addiction.

I turned to the collage I'd created from my dream seeking wisdom, guidance and healing as the tsunami of grief crashing over me threatened to drown me as well.

I began a two-handed dialoguing process and, over a few days time, spoke with every image in the collage by asking questions with my dominant hand and allowing the images to answer through my non-dominant hand.

Each and every image had powerful wisdom and healing to share with me, and all the dialogues are included in my book, The Deep Water Leaf Society (https://www.amazon.com/Deep-Water-Leaf-Society/dp/0982105614/). But perhaps the most surprising conversation of all was the one I had with the surfer at the top left of my collage.

Dominant Hand (DH): Hello Surfer - who are you?

Non-Dominant Hand (NDH): It's me, Mom. Look at me - I'm riding the wave! It's wild and dangerous and so much fun! Mom, I'm happy. It's all good. I had a short ride, but what a rush!

DH: So you feel good then? Happy? Satisfied?

NDH: Mom, I didn't drown. Not like you think. I just grabbed a board and hung on for a wild and crazy ride. Don't cry, Mom - please? That makes me sad.

DH: I'm sorry to cry, but I'll miss you. I didn't think of your life as a lot of fun. I thought you were hurting and in pain.

NDH: But it was all part of the ride. Really. It's ok. I'm free. I'm happy. I'm moving on.

DH: What is it that I can do for you?

NDH: You've done it all, Mom. Now it's my turn to do for you.

DH: What gift or wisdom do you bring to me?

NDH: Freedom. Live your life, Mom. Ride your own wave. I love you.


~~~

Sometimes as I write with my non-dominant hand, I wonder where the words are coming from. But in this instance there was no doubt in my mind that it was truly Cameron who was speaking to me, urging me to see his life and death differently, urging me to live my own life fully in spite of this loss.

While the dialogues with the images in my Big Wave collage often evoked a flood of tears, I felt safe and protected somehow. Every voice seemed to encourage me to see that love was all that mattered and all that was real. That love would heal all wounds. That love never dies.

When the woman at the bottom right, the one with her eyes closed, said through the non-dominant hand that she felt as though the weight of this loss would crush her and that she would drown in her tears, the other woman had a different point of view.

DH: And so, finally, to you - the woman with her eyes wide open. Who are you?

NDH: I am you.

DH: And how do you feel?

NDH: So many things. Joy one moment and sorrow the next. But look at me - I'm dressed for swimming. We will keep our eyes wide open even when we are immersed in the sea. It will never overwhelm us. We are safe.

DH: And what can I do for you?

NDH: You are doing it. Living. Loving. Feeling. Growing. This is why we are here.

DH: I know this is true. What gift or wisdom do you bring to me?

NDH: We shall see, Claire. We shall see . . .


~~~

During the six months prior to Cameron's death, I had been learning to use all the healing tools and processes of Lucia Capacchione's Creative Journal Expressive Arts, including listening to the wisdom of my "other" hand. And for that I am truly grateful.

While dialoguing with the images in my Big Wave collage was only the first step in a very long journey through grief into healing, my non-dominant hand would continue to lead the way.

Claire Perkins, CJEA

Web: www.claireperkins.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/ClairePerkinsArtAndSoul/
Email: claire@claireperkins.com
Books:
The Deep Water Leaf Society: Harnessing the Transformative Power of Grief
(https://www.amazon.com/Deep-Water-Leaf-Society/dp/0982105614/)
Fallen: The Adventures of a Deep Water Leaf
(https://www.amazon.com/Fallen-Adventures-Deep-Water-Leaf/dp/0982105622/)

-----

Lucia
www.luciac.com
www.visioningcoach.org
Order The Power of Your Other Hand (Conari Press 2019) at Amazon.com

Thursday, August 1, 2019

Zenga Art from the Non-Dominant Hand


Almost twenty years after discovering the power of the non-dominant hand to heal, open up channels of creativity and unlock inner wisdom, I made another amazing discovery. One day while painting with watercolors, my “other hand” (the hand I don’t normally write with), picked up a brush and began making forms and “characters” that loosely resembled what I had seen in Japanese and Chinese art. A long-time admirer of traditional Asian art and collector of antique and vintage kimono, I recognized the painted circle (called enso) from exhibits of Asian art I had seen.

At the time these circles began flowing out of my brush, I knew next to nothing about the Zenga tradition of art. I only knew what I had seen and liked on scrolls and mounted paintings in museums and at shops in New Chinatown and Little Tokyo in downtown Los Angeles where I spent my early years. In fact, I was using one of the Japanese brushes I’d had since 5th or 6th grade when I purchased one for painting a large fabric banner in grammar school. I loved the flexibility of these brushes that seemed like many brushes in one. I could paint a large solid area or draw by making medium or thin lines with the round pointed tip. It all depended on how much paint was on the brush, how much pressure was applied and how the brush was held.

As I painted these circles with my non-dominant hand, calligraphic forms started to appear out of nowhere. How curious, I thought. These look like Japanese and Chinese characters I’ve seen on scrolls. I have no idea how my hand is doing this, and I sure don’t know what they say, if anything. It was effortless, fun and super relaxing, so I continued. I ended up creating a series of these multi-colored “faux Asian calligraphy” paintings. A few had enso circles in them, most of them were filled with calligraphy formed from the top down and often starting on the right hand top corner of the painting. I had never had instructions in Asian calligraphy techniques, yet my non-dominant hand knew what to do. Sometimes I gave them poetic titles that came as naturally and effortlessly as the paintings had. These titles sounded like fragments of zen sayings. I had no idea where any of this came from.

After awhile I got into the practice of playing recorded music for Zen Meditation while I painted. At those times it felt as if I were channeling a past life as an Asian monk. Although I began studying art at age 13 and had a Bachelor’s Degree in Art, I’d never taken a class in Asian art nor ever visited an Asian country. Yet here I was, immersed in a clearly meditative process using brushes from a far away land. Around that time, I saw an ad for an exhibit at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art entitled: “Zenga: Brushstrokes to Enlightenment.” The name of the show hit me like a thunderbolt. I knew I had to see it as soon as possible. Walking around the Museum’s Asian Pavilion, I was awe struck by what I saw. The walls were filled with traditional pieces from an art form that was all about meditation, mindfulness, and being in the present. Enso circles and other drawings, as well as calligraphy, seemed to flow from the very soul of the artists. The show was stunning and inspired me to continue.

I learned that, traditionally, these simple circles were created with Japanese brushes and ink, and usually accompanied by calligraphy featuring phrases or verses from Zen teaching. Enso art is a direct expression of the mind of the artist who creates it. I also knew from my studies of Swiss Psychologist, C.G. Jung, that circles have deep significance as the archetype of wholeness. He wrote about the circular form of the uroboros, the serpent eating its own tail, symbolizing the continuous cycle of life and death. What fascinated me most was the spontaneous quality of the work, considering that the artists received rigorous training by Zen masters and were themselves Zen masters. As an artist and art therapist, I resonated deeply with the idea of finding enlightenment through art.

For a few years after discovering this spontaneous Asian style art through my non-dominant hand, I continued painting and exhibiting these works throughout Los Angeles and California's central coast. At one exhibit, a Japanese man and I struck up a conversation. I laughed and acknowledged that my work was "faux calligraphy" inspired by Asian art. He laughed and pointed out that there actually were some real kanji characters in my art, but they didn't add up to anything. It would be like doing a painting with a made-up alphabet and throwing a few real letters into the mix for decorative purposes only.

At the same time I was painting and exhibiting these Asian inspired paintings, I also created collages and watercolor landscapes. However, it was the process of painting with Asian brushes in my non-dominant hand that brought me the most relaxation and inner peace. As in the Zenga tradition, the art was a byproduct of my state of mind and my spontaneous interaction with the brush, the paint or ink, and the paper. I was leading a very busy life at the time, traveling all over the world, writing books and leading workshops. Meditation through the brush became my refuge and a welcomed stress reduction practice.

In the last few months, almost three decades after my original discovery of Zenga art, I have had the opportunity to take classes with masters of Chinese brush painting and calligraphy. These teachers appeared out of nowhere, just like my first discoveries of what happened spontaneously when I put an Asian brush in my “other hand.” Exploring brushes, Chinese papers, calligraphy forms and traditional techniques has been a joy. I am looking forward to seeing what happens next.

Lucia
www.luciac.com
www.visioningcoach.org
Order The Power of Your Other Hand (Conari Press 2019) at Amazon.com

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Sleep on it: Tapping the Creative Subconscious through Your “Other Hand”


“Never go to sleep without a request to your subconscious.” -Thomas Edison

When we have to make an important decision, we often use the term, “I’ll sleep on it.” That phrase implies that something will come to us in the sleep state. We’ll wake up with “the answer.” Should I accept this job? Should I move to that house? Should I invest in this business?

History is full of inventions and discoveries that happened in the sleep state. Whether they are “requested,” as Edison recommends, or not, we know that the sleep state gives rise to dreams, images, guidance and even groundbreaking discoveries. Kekule’s discovery of the benzene ring in chemistry (think gasoline) is only one example of a scientific breakthrough that came forth in the sleep state. He literally dreamed the pattern that showed him the formula. It’s no wonder. The visual nature of dreams lends itself to the right-brain process of imagery and pattern recognition.

Dreaming taps heavily into right-brain experiencing. All the functions that the right brain excels in are active in the dream state. Dreams are visual and sometimes very physical (as in dreams of falling, flying, drowning). We don’t even need to know how to do some of the things we do in dreams. I dreamt of skiing once, although I had never skied and I still haven’t. But I can describe to you exactly how it feels to ski down a slope covered with new fallen snow. I did it in a dream.

We all know how emotional dreams can be, especially nightmares. We might wake up shaking with fear after a scary dream, weeping after a sad one, or overjoyed by a blissful dream. We wake up feeling that it “really” happened. A bad dream can cause us to “wake up on the wrong side of the bed" in the morning. We all know what that old saying means. If we don’t recall the dream, we may be grumpy all day and not know why.

Some dreams tap into our natural intuitive abilities to the point of being psychic previews of what's to come. We all have had or heard about “precognitive dreams.” Something the dreamer could not possibly have known on the conscious level actually happens in real life. I once dreamed a doctor of mine was at a party given in her honor and was threatened with death by shadowy figures trying to crash the party. I went to the door and told them to go away and they did. Then she appeared with her long silver hair cut very short. Her appearance surprised me. She had always had long hair worn in a bun and said she would never cut it short. Three days later a mutual friend called to tell me the Doctor had a stroke while out of town on vacation with friends on the weekend. The doctors had to cut her hair for doing brain tests. When I saw her a few days later I knew in advance exactly what her new haircut looked like. I’d seen it in my dream.

Sometimes our nocturnal journeys in the sleep state bring spiritual insight. Holy beings, gurus or advisors might appear with a message, guidance or comfort for the soul. In the last chapter of The Power of You Other Hand, I describe dreams I had in which gurus appeared with powerful messages for me. In one, a guru appeared and was slowly replaced with me as a blissful baby (as I actually appeared in Baptismal photos). I understood from that dream that my Inner Child work had to be the center of my healing work as a therapist and teacher. My Inner Child would lead me. I introduced this guidance from a dream in a chapter in The Power of You Other Hand, entitled Recovery of the Inner Child. That chapter later evolved into a whole book, my bestseller Recovery of Your Inner Child.

Drawing and writing with the non-dominant hand can greatly enhance your exploration of guidance from the dream state. Here are some techniques for remembering and exploring dreams using your non-dominant hand for drawing and writing. When doing dream work, always have a journal or notebook and colored pens next to your bed.

• First of all, follow Edison’s advice. Before going to sleep, ask your Creative Subconscious to send you a message, some inspiration, or the answer to a problem. With your dominant hand write down the project, issue or problem you want help with. Note: If you have trouble recalling your dreams, ask your Creative Subconscious to come through when you wake up. It might take a few days, so be patient.

• As soon as you wake up, keep your eyes closed and go over in your mind any images, words or actions you recall from your dreams. You don’t need to remember every detail. Isolated images, words or actions will be enough.

 From The Creative Journal, Swallow/Ohio U, 2015
• Open your eyes. Do not engage in activity or conversation with anyone. No texting, phone calls or chatting with others. With your non-dominant hand draw any images you recall. If it was an auditory dream and you can’t recall visual images or physical actions to draw, then go directly to the next step.

Using your dominant hand, jot down your first impressions of the dream (dream fragments, if that is all you can recall).

• Do a written dialogue with each visual image in your dream. (If there were a lot of them and you don’t have time, do more dialogues later on.) Start with the first or most powerful image. With your dominant hand, ask questions of the image. Who or what is it? How does it feel? Why? Why has it appeared in your dream. What does it want from you? Finally, what does it want for you? A gift? A lesson? Your non-dominant hand writes the answers (speaking for the image in your dream).

Harvest the wisdom of your Creative Unconscious. Sweet dreams!

Lucia
www.luciac.com
www.visioningcoach.org
Order The Power of Your Other Hand (Conari Press 2019) at Amazon.com

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Grief Work Using the Non-Dominant Hand

This week’s guest blogger, Elva Villarreal, is a practitioner of Creative Journal Expressive Arts and Visioning® Coaching. After teaching school for many years she became a workshop leader, coach and facilitator of cancer support groups for H.O.P.E. (Helping Other People Emotionally), held at McAllen Public Library in McAllen, Texas. After her mother’s death, Elva wrote a book entitled I Am Here, illustrated by artist and CJEA colleague, Lisa Brown. Elva works with professional caregivers, therapists and counselors, and includes non-dominant hand journaling in her workshops.

Grief Work Using the Non-Dominant Hand

I often introduce workshops with movement to Gabrielle Roth’s 5 Rhythms recordings. I usually use selections in which Gabrielle narrates body parts for inspiring spontaneous movement. She also has music covering many moods and allowing for physical expression of feelings. There are no dance steps or instruction in how to move. All movement is improvised in response to the music. We follow this with Dancing on Paper, in which participants scribble out feelings to music with their non-dominant hand using whatever colors feel right to them.

Then I read my book and have the group journal about someone they miss. It could be a loss through death or other kind of separation. They use their non-dominant hand to draw the person. Using their dominant hand, they write the qualities of that person which they love and miss. Then on another sheet, through the non-dominant hand, the other person writes them a letter. Participants then partner up to read each other’s letter to one another.

When working with professional caregivers, I start my workshop with a presentation of concepts of healing through art and writing, and the technique of using the non-dominant hand. I often get left brain questions and discussions about clients such as: "What are the steps to get a client to access the right brain?” “What if a client doesn’t know which color he should choose or what he should draw, and he keeps asking questions for reassurance?” etc., etc. I am able to quiet them down when they do the exercises. That’s when I often see a flood of tears!

Caregivers often have personal losses as well as the deaths of patients or residents in care facilities with whom they have been working. They need the opportunity to process their grief. It is helpful to do this collectively in a group. They also express their grief about other things in their lives such as a recent cancer diagnosis of a loved one, early loss of a parent, “empty nest syndrome,” stress, and a need for peace and balance in life.

These workshops for therapists and counselors highlight the fact that professional caregivers also experience tough things in their personal lives. They too have a need for processing feelings and nurturing themselves. I am reminded of the series of workshops offered by Creative Journal Expressive Arts instructors Vicki Muir and Marsha Nelson for therapists in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. I joined this CJEA team to present five days of workshops to different groups of therapists. I also had the privilege of leading a children’s workshop, with Vicki doing a drumming activity at a Children’s Grief Center, while Marsha worked with their parents. We were able to show professionals dealing with their own losses from the hurricane how to care for others while taking care of themselves.

Elva Villarreal
elvavi382@gmail.com

“Use of the non-dominant hand for drawing and writing opens up buried feelings and allows them to be released from the body onto paper. The wisdom and comfort that result provide a powerful support during the grieving process. Furthermore, a practice of journaling during a period of grief is extremely helpful. Grief knows no timetable, so journaling can be done anytime feelings of sadness or missing a loved one come up.” –Lucia Capacchione

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Lucia
www.luciac.com
www.visioningcoach.org
Order The Power of Your Other Hand (Conari Press 2019) at Amazon.com


Thursday, July 11, 2019

Giving a Voice to Art

Our guest blogger this week is Suzette Morrow, art teacher at Coast Union High School and Santa Lucia Middle School in Cambria, California. She is also a graduate of Creative Journal Expressive Arts and Visioning® Coach Training. Suzette is currently working on a Masters Degree in Fine Art and has been using her non-dominant hand in explorations of artwork that has been emerging for a student show. As you will see, journaling is part of her creative process. The brown and white sculptures below are accompanied with a journal entry written with both hands. The sculptures speak with her non-dominant hand.

Giving a Voice to Art

These sculptures were what showed up one by one in my art making without knowing why. I sat down and drew them first. Then I used Lucia's method of journaling with them asking them why they were there. I was so surprised by how dominant the inner critic was in my unconscious. 

Suzette giving a voice to her art through journaling with her non-dominant hand
About a month ago and 30 sculptures later, they started getting smaller. Now they are pill size and I plan to put them into a glass jar for the first round of shows for my MFA. This will be to get critiques and feedback on my process, so it is the source as well as the product. 
 The Many Faces of the Inner Critic
These are my inner critic pieces. They are getting smaller, but still persistent. These are part of my show.

Suzette Morrow
Suzet.com
Suzette.morrow@gmail.com
Follow Suzette on Instagram @suzettemorrow
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Lucia
www.luciac.com
www.visioningcoach.org
Order The Power of Your Other Hand (Conari Press 2019) at Amazon.com

Thursday, July 4, 2019

You Can’t Give from an Empty Cup

Non-dominant drawing and journaling is being used for training healthcare professionals with great results. This post illustrates the value of in-service support using these methods. Contributed by Dr. Marsha Nelson, she is also co-founder and supervisor of my Creative Journal Expressive Arts Certification Training Program.


You Can’t Give from an Empty Cup

I have been using the Creative Journal Expressive Arts (CJEA) methods for over 27 years for myself and others. During the past two years I have had the honor of introducing Dr. Lucia Capacchione’s methods to a group of dedicated caregivers at a memory care facility in California’s San Francisco Bay Area. These dedicated caregivers tend to their patient’s needs lovingly and with an extreme amount of patience. This is all well and good, but wait, who offers these caregivers any compassion? As Dr. Capacchione makes abundantly clear, “You can’t give from an empty cup.” The administration of this memory care facility has been VERY supportive of their staff members by inviting me to offer the CJEA tools with their compassionate care-giving staff members.

I have created a caregiver’s stress release program which uses the CJEA activities of clay, mask-making, collage, Dancing on Paper (using markers to scribble their stress out to music), journaling using both the dominant and non-dominant hands and movement activities. Currently, I offer the staff 1 to 1 ½ hours worth of self-care activities quarterly per year. I present Dr. Capacchione’s pioneering technique of using the non-dominant hand to draw and then journal with the drawing using both the dominant and non-dominant hands.

I create a topic for each visit to the memory care facility. I talk about the topic for at least 5 to 6 minutes. It could be the topic of grieving the loss of a patient or loved one. First step is to have them draw a picture of how they felt when they learned one of their patients had died. This is followed by a conversation with the drawing to see what it has to say to them. I guide them to write four basic questions with their dominant hand. The answers are written with the non-dominant hand, speaking as the drawing. For participants whose first language is other than English, I always invite them to write in their mother tongue. The human brain is hardwired to the sound of our mother’s or early caregiver’s voice, and our childhood emotion-laden memories are often encoded in our first language. For this reason the language we first heard is important when expressing emotions through journaling.

The four basic questions I share with the participants are as follows:
  • Who or what are you?
  • How do you feel?
  • Why do you feel this way?
  • What do you have to say to me?
  • Optional - Is there anything else you would like for me to know?
The caregivers find the act of using their non-dominant hand to be relaxing and insightful as well as fun. I often hear comments such as, “This drawing is better than when I use my dominant hand!” or “I can’t believe this information I have received by using my non-dominant hand!” During my latest visit, the accountant in the office next door to the workshop room shared with me, “I see our employees going into your workshops looking stressed and when they leave they look happy and they are smiling.”

Coaching these employees in balancing their stress with self-nurturing will help them feel better by keeping them emotionally and physically healthy. Here are some responses to an evaluation form question about whether or not other employers had offered them self-nurturing tools:

"NO, never has a company cared about how I feel or has offered any self-care tools.”
“Typically we are only offered training in patient care.”

In addition, another staff member commented as follows: “What you are offering to me is helping me become more aware and understanding of myself as a caregiver.” Dr. Capacchione stresses, “Giving from an empty cup is like poisoning the chicken soup.” When are companies going to wake up to the fact that compassion comes with a price tag? The few hours that this company has donated to their employee’s mental health certainly will help with employee retention and less sick days due to being overly stressed. Undoubtedly this will also lead to higher quality care for the residents.

I look forward to my next visit to California and working with a great staff of caregivers who value our CJEA tools.

Marsha Nelson, PhD
CJEA & Visioning® Training Supervisor
956.802.9993 cell/text
marshanelsonphd@yahoo.com
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Lucia
www.luciac.com
www.visioningcoach.org
Order The Power of Your Other Hand (Conari Press 2019) at Amazon.com

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Finding Your Heart's Desire


Finding your true Heart’s Desire in life is not always as simple as it seems. We often make decisions from our left, logical brain, putting practicality before passion. We can actually have both if we learn to listen to our hearts. We can do this through accessing our right brain by writing with our non-dominant hand.

I teach my clients and students what I call The Heart’s Desire Practice. This is a practice done every day for all the seemingly insignificant choices we make, like what to wear, what to eat, what route to take to any destination, and so on throughout the day. Before making these ordinary choices, I suggest they ask themselves: What is my true heart's desire about this? Not what others are doing, not what is expected of them, not what they think they should do. This means letting go of old automatic default settings and allowing themselves to behave differently. I think of this as Heart's Desire Aerobics.

What does your heart really say about the seemingly insignificant choices or decisions all day long? If you do a daily Heart's Desire Practice, you will be exercising another set of heart "muscles," the ones that have to do with an emotionally healthy heart. This is a heart that "talks" to us when we stop to listen. In this daily Heart’s Desire Practice we prepare ourselves for the big decisions in life: career, residence, relationships, and more. I also extend this practice into journaling.

My heart writes to me with my non-dominant hand (accessing my right brain emotional and intuitive centers). I just let it talk to me about my life. I might even ask it to draw a picture of itself. Using the non-dominant hand (the one you don’t normally write with) for drawing and writing is a great way to get out of the default setting and try new ways of doing things. Yes, it’s slow and awkward, but it definitely shakes things up. More importantly it accesses the right brain creative and intuitive centers where breakthrough thinking happens.

Another way to listen to your Heart’s Desire is through vision boards and "bucket lists." I have written an entire book about integrating vision boards with journaling that features the non-dominant hand. It is entitled Visioning: Ten Steps to Designing the Life of Your Dreams. In the Visioning® method, we create magazine photo collages on large vision boards or in a journal. Picturing scenes, objects, and people expressing feelings and engaged in activities we enjoy is a way to allow the heart to speak to us.

These collages usually reveal parts of our personality wanting more expression. For instance, a photo of a "woman in red" spoke to me through my non-dominant hand. She told me that she is here to give me more vitality, courage and fun. She also wanted me to dress in brighter colors. If I've been working too hard, an image of a woman luxuriating in a bubble bath might speak to me through non-dominant hand journal writing, advising me to slow down, relax and restore my energy. Both of these women reflect parts of myself that have been dormant. If these parts have been ignored, discounted or given a back seat to other more responsible, “worker bee” parts, they will speak out sooner or later. They might cause low energy or illness in order to get my attention. Why not listen to them before such symptoms set in? They are all speaking from my heart.

Creating collages of nocturnal dreams can also illuminate our true heart’s desires and reveal parts of us needing more expression. The same journal techniques described above can be applied to dream work. Picturing the images in the dream and allowing them to speak, especially the parts that seem foreign or strange can open us to renewal. Like tiny sprouts emerging out of the earth in early spring, these dream images from the unconscious are often telling us about something new that wants to be born in us.

How do we know that parts of ourselves have been left out? We usually see symptoms: low energy, boredom, feeling we are in a rut, crankiness, irritability, burnout, physical pain, headaches, and even depression. Any of these may be signaling a need to listen to our Heart’s Desire.


Lucia
www.luciac.com
www.visioningcoach.org
Order The Power of Your Other Hand (Conari Press 2019) at Amazon.com


Thursday, June 20, 2019

The Non-Dominant Hand in Recovery Work

I first became aware of the potential for using writing and drawing with the non-dominant hand for recovery from a student in one of my Creative Journal classes. After class one evening, one of the students thanked me profusely for the journal class and how beneficial it was in her recovery in AL anon. As the wife of an alcoholic she was working on her own co-dependency and had been struggling with the 4th Step in the 12-Step program. She’d been struggling to write her personal inventory for a long time, but felt blocked from actually doing it. Her Inner Critic would then beat her up for not following through with her 4th Step assignment. She frowned as she described her plight.

Then her face broke into a huge smile as she talked about things had changed since taking my journal class. After doing my process in which we answer back to the Inner Critic, allowing the sassy Inner Brat to write with the non-dominant hand, she was able to do her inventory much to the amazement of her sponsor. Her victory over the critic was a great achievement. Answering back to the critic not only freed her to write her inventory but she started creating short stories about her childhood and teen years. She had found her Inner Writer. She later went on to teach writing to seniors and incorporated the block buster journal prompts from The Power of Your Other Hand to liberate her students had internal critics that were stopping them from writing.

Answering Back to the Inner Critic

If you are blocked about something in your life or struggling with a fear of failure, try the following prompt. Get out some 8 1/2” X 11” paper and a pen or set of colored markers.

List all of the self-critical statements you hear in your head using the second person, such as: “You aren’t smart enough to start your own business.” “Who do you think you are trying to go back to school at your age.” “Why are you taking this music class, you know you don’t have any talent.” “Making art is a waste of time. Get busy doing something more practical and profitable.”

Use your dominant hand to write your own version of these negative statements. Be sure to use the word “you” and not “I.” That way you won’t identify with these destructive beliefs and will be able to put them at arms distance. After you’ve written a page of put downs, put the pen in your non-dominant hand and answer back to the critic. Tell it off in no uncertain terms. Let your Inner Brat come out, express your anger about being put down 24-7 by this Inner Critic. Don’t concern yourself with spelling, grammar or penmanship. Just let the words fly onto the page. It may feel awkward and slow, but hand in there and keep writing. After you feel finished, read the words you wrote with your non-dominant hand.

Contacting Our Higher Power in Recovery

Over the years I have heard many reports from individuals in 12-Step programs that my books and workshops also helped them break through a block to writing their 4th Step inventory. Just as important was their discovery of a personal connection with their Higher Power that speaks to them through their non-dominant hand. They were able to tap into inner guidance and intuition that they never knew existed.

My most memorable experience of accessing our Higher Power through non-dominant handwriting happened at a weekend retreat I was leading for ninety-five women in recovery from alcoholism. The women had spent two days engrossed in Creative Journal and Inner Child work and sharing their innermost feelings and experiences. As the weekend was wrapping up I suggested they do a dialogue with their Higher Power. Using their dominant hand they wrote down a problem or challenge they were facing. They then wrote a request for help from their Higher Power. This was followed by allowing their Higher Power to write a response using their non-dominant hand. Since we had already done the prompt in which they answered back to their Inner Critic, I urged them to not worry about grammar, spelling or penmanship as it would be their Inner Critic who would judge these aspects of their writing.

After completing this final journal exercise, the women were then invited to share what they had written, on a strictly voluntary basis. Many of them chose to come up to the microphone and read what their Higher Power had told them. With clarity and heart-felt expression their words poured out from their hearts. They all agreed that this dialogue had made the experience of their Higher Power personal and tangible. The words sounded like ancient wisdom from scripture. There was a depth of compassion and loving-kindness in these journal entries that was profoundly moving. As more women shared the messages from their Higher Power there were more and more tears among those listening. The common insight shared by all in the final evaluations was that our Higher Power resides within us and can speak to us personally. They commented on how the Higher Power seemed to speak in one voice through all their writings. The wisdom in the words that came through the non-dominant hand were described as “loving,” “healing,” and “comforting.”

Lucia
www.luciac.com
www.visioningcoach.org
Order The Power of Your Other Hand (Conari Press 2019) at Amazon.com

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Everything Can Be Fixed

The following post was contributed by Lay Peng Tan who is currently in training to become a Certified Creative Journal Expressive Arts instructor and coach. In the process of working with my methods she discovered an Inner Artist who had been buried for some years. Here is a story about her most recent adventures in allowing her artist self to emerge and express fully.

Everything Can Be Fixed

“There is no need to cry, everything can be fixed!” There was this little boy perched on the stool staring at me as I took my place next to his, in front of my canvas at the local Muse Paintbar.

Since completing the Recovery of Your Inner Child series by Lucia Capacchione, I have rediscovered my inner artist. By now, I am a regular at the Paintbar. For someone who had hidden paintbrushes more than thirty years ago, to become an ‘undercover artist’, I consider myself doing quite well if I look at my collection accumulated in less than a year and the progress I have made.

Indeed, there is no need to cry. After learning the Creative Journaling techniques in Lucia’s books, life did become more manageable. There was a time when I thought being able to cry was a luxury: after I lost my dad, was assaulted, lost my opportunity to go to medical school all in a few months, I remembered walking around like there is ‘nobody inside.’ That went on for many years. New age techniques e.g. crystal, shamanic and equestrian therapies enabled me to cope at work and get back to normal life. Deep down, I had a longing to be like ‘normal’ people. I was unable to tap into my feelings or distant memories. I had become a version of the Grinch, who has a heart “two sizes too small.”

Whether my heart was held prisoner, buried or stolen, I had no idea. All I knew was: joy has also fled from my life. I had thought that being ‘emotional’ was the ill. It was when I learnt Lucia’s techniques that I fully appreciated the notion that it is not about hoping for no rain, but to be able to continue and take joy walking in the heavy downpours of life.

Who does not want the life skills?

I had thought that after all those lost years, art and I are not fated to be together. I was pleasantly surprised that far from having the critic voices in most art classes I attended as a child, in Lucia’s sessions and books, there are techniques to deal with these critics dressed up as well-meaning individuals, including myself.

I also really enjoy putting my feelings down on paper. And guess what? I even found my heart in one of the exercises in her book, The Well-Being Journal, page 37, "The Body Parts Speak."

By using my non-dominant hand to dialog with my dominant hand, I was amazed at what I got to uncover within. This helped me make necessary changes:

Dominant Hand: You seem to be very unhappy?

Non-Dominant Hand to represent the Heart: You bet I am. Yes, I am sad and pissed off at the same time. I am sadness. You always let anger steal the show and that makes me upset.

Dominant Hand: What are you sad about?

Non-Dominant Hand: I am sad because you do not always do the things you said you want to do.

Dominant Hand: Like what?

Non-Dominant Hand: Like writing down the proposal for staff training. Like making time to draw. Like taking me out to play more. Like eating healthier. Like drinking more water. Like stop doing so many unimportant things.

The Grinch’s happy ending and parting words, “To kindness and love, the things we need most," sure resonate with me. Having rediscovered my inner artist, “There is no need to cry, everything can be fixed!” has become a favorite affirmation of mine.

Being in the CJEA (Creative Journal Expressive Arts) community amidst many artists, I found my own heart was not much different from theirs: I learned to see the beauty in everything around us, the good, the bad, and with the knowing that spilling paint is just an opportunity to allow another form to emerge from the canvas. Most of all, I like putting my feelings on paper so they haunt me no more.

Lay Peng Tan
----
Lucia
www.luciac.com
www.visioningcoach.org
Order The Power of Your Other Hand (Conari Press 2019) at Amazon.com

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Science Catches Up with Mapping Emotions in the Body


When my first book The Creative Journal was first published in 1980, I introduced my method of mapping emotions that get stuck in the body. In the first edition of The Power of Your Other Hand (1988) I devoted an entire chapter to this technique entitled “Finding the Healer Within.” Body mapping is done by creating a simple outline of the body and (using the non-dominant hand) coloring in the physical sensations that are speaking to us at the time. This is followed with a right-hand left-hand dialogue with each body part that has been colored in. The dominant hand asks questions and the non-dominant hand speaks for the body part. The choice of colors used in the body map is very personal and intuitive – there is no right or wrong way to do this. The written dialogues that result are profoundly insightful and usually lead to a decrease in symptoms and often to a complete healing. Many of my readers have reported amazing results using this technique. The detailed instructions appear in Chapter Six of The Power of Your Other Hand along with examples from the journals of my clients and students.



I’m happy to report that in recent years scientific studies have proven the physiological reality of what happens when emotions get stored in the body. The work of Dr. Candace Pert in her book Molecules of Emotions, led the way in scientific investigation of how emotions affect our health when they are not accepted and expressed. We all use terms like I had butterflies in my stomach, She’s a pain in the neck, This job gives me a headache, I’m shouldering too much responsibility, My stomach was tied up in knots, etc.

More recently, Riitta Hari, co-author of a 2014 Finish study on the bodily locations of emotion wrote, “We have obtained solid evidence that shows the body is involved in all types of cognitive and emotional functions. In other words, the human mind is strongly embodied.” Our brains are not disconnected from our bodies. Our emotions actually live in our bodies. Those common expressions as mentioned above have now been verified by science with new imaging techniques.

Embodied emotions have been mapped by neuroscientist Lauri Nummenmaa and co-authors Riitta Hari, Enrico Glerean, and Jari K. Hietanen. They did studies involving more than 1,000 participants in three experiments. These included having people rate how much they experience each feeling in their body vs. in their mind, how good each one feels, and how much they can control it. Participants were also asked to sort their feelings, producing five clusters: positive feelings, negative feelings, cognitive processes, somatic (or bodily) states and illnesses, and homeostatic states (bodily functions). They then made careful distinctions between emotional states, thinking and sensations.

On a computer, the study participants colored blank outlines of the human body, in response to a question about where they felt specific feelings. The researchers used stories, video, and pictures to provoke emotional responses, which registered onscreen as warmer or cooler colors.

Using imaging technology, scientists observed that similar families of emotions tended to cluster in similar places in the body. Anger, fear, and disgust tended to concentrate in the upper body, around the organs and muscles that most react to such feelings. Surprisingly, the so-called positive emotions of gratefulness and togetherness and the so-called negative emotions of guilt and despair all looked remarkably similar, with feelings mapped primarily in the heart, followed by the head and stomach. Mania and exhaustion, another two opposing emotions, were both felt all over the body.

The researchers controlled for differences in figurative expressions (i.e. “heartache”) across two languages, Swedish and Finnish. They also make reference to other mind-body theories, such as using somatosensory feedback to trigger conscious emotional experiences and the idea that we understand others’ emotions by simulating them in our own bodies. Read the full, and fully illustrated, study results in “Bodily Maps of Emotions,” published by the National Academy of Sciences.


Body mapping resources in Lucia’s books:
The Power of Your Other Hand
Hello, This is Your Body Talking
Drawing Your Stress Away
The Art of Emotional Healing
The Creative Journal
The Picture of Health 
(audio) – available only at luciac.com
 

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Communicating with Animals using the Non-Dominant Hand

Letting your animal speak through your non-dominant hand

Over the years I have received many letters and emails from readers who have used my non-dominant hand writing technique for getting insights into their animals. Many have told me that they unlocked the mystery of a seemingly incurable or chronic condition that one of their pets was suffering with. Veterinarians were unable to correctly diagnose or treat their pet's illness. Using Chapter Eight in my book The Power of Your Other Hand, they wrote out dialogues in which they asked the animal some questions using their dominant hand. The animal answered through their non-dominant hand. The causes of many mysterious maladies have been identified through this method. 

Some animals have complained about living conditions and conflicts with other pets. In other cases the animal was suffering with a digestive reaction to certain foods. In a few instances readers have described emotions that animals were carrying from earlier owners, especially in the case where they had been abused and taken to an animal shelter. The new owner, who found the animal at the shelter and gave it a new home, was able to help heal the trauma that occurred by "listening" to what the animal had to say. It appears that really "hearing" and showing empathy for the abused animal is profoundly healing. Sometimes the specifics of the nature of the abuse were described by the animal "speaking" through the new owner's non-dominant hand.


For me, stories like these are always deeply moving, and the love and compassion shared by these animals lovers has been very touching. I never wrote about becoming an "animal whisperer" using this method because I hadn't really explored the application of the technique. I was very pleased to receive a book in 1997 by Arthur Myers entitled Communicating with Animals: The Spiritual Connection Between People and Animals. On page 24, Myers includes a story by Griffin Kanter of Houston, Texas, who read my book and decided to try the technique with her animals. In a dialogue with her dog Isaac, a poodle-terrier mix, with her right hand she wrote to Isaac that she was going to use this technique for communication. When Isaac started to reply through her left hand writing, she knew that it was indeed her dog speaking. She'd been using the technique for a few months and was used to sensing the subtle energy of whoever was speaking through her non-dominant hand. She felt Isaac's emotions and bodily sensations. Griffin went on to be able to communicate with her animals without writing. She could converse with them mentally, the way many "animal whisperers" do. (Note: my name is misspelled in the book as Catacchinone.)

If you have an animal who is in distress, or are in conflict with a pet or other animal, you can use this technique of dialoguing with both hands to gain insight and empathy into the animal's physical condition and/or emotions. Perhaps you will enhance your understanding of the dynamics between you and the animal as well.

With your dominant (writing) hand ask the animal a question about anything you would like to know regarding the animal's health, behavior, or needs. Then, put a pen in your non-dominant hand (the one you don't normally write with) and allow the animal to answer your question. Continue this dialogue back and forth until you feel you've come to a resolution or a deeper awareness of what the animal has been trying to communicate to you.

If you have a problem with the animal and need to express some emotions, start your dialogue by writing your feelings out with your dominant hand. If the animal has been upsetting you in any way describe what it is the animal has been doing and how it has impacted you. Then put a pen in your non-dominant hand and let the animal respond. Again, continue the dialogue until you feel some kind of resolution. 

An example of the latter type of dialogue came from a woman who reported that her well-trained French poodle suddenly started jumping up on furniture, behaving in an uncharacteristically disruptive manner, and regressing to puppy-like behavior. She found herself getting very annoyed and yelling at the dog all the time. This was very upsetting since she and her pet had a very harmonious connection. After doing a dialogue with the poodle she discovered that the dog walker, who was charged with taking the animal out during the day (when the owner was at work), had been limiting the usual time for outings. When the owner confronted the dog walker, the employee admitted that she had reduced time with the dog without consulting her. They came to an agreement about the minimum amount of time to be spent with the dog out-of-doors, and the pet's behavior cleared up within a week. The owner was once again relieved to return home each day to a happy, contented animal companion.


You too can be an "animal whisperer"! All it takes is paper, two pens and two hands.

Lucia
www.luciac.com
www.visioningcoach.org
Order The Power of Your Other Hand (Conari Press 2019) at Amazon.com

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Yuliia's Story

Yuliia Antonova is currently training in my Creative Journal Expressive Arts International Certification Training. She lives in Ukraine with her husband and two young children, and is sharing my methods through workshops and one-on-one consulting. Before taking the training, Yuliia was already a professional artist, but as you will see from this post, which she contributed, using the non-dominant hand has had a positive impact on her artwork.

Yuliia’s Story

At first my dialogues (using both hands) followed the recommendations and exercises in Lucia’s books: The Power of Your Other Hand and The Art of Emotional Healing. But when I felt how easy it was, I let both hands flow. The dialogues grew from short and abrupt to long three-paged conversations. It took me several months to establish a clear dialogue with my Inner Child, but now we are more than friends.

In October of 2018 I received an order from a woman who liked my paintings, which were presented at a small local art exhibition. My previous paintings were all born from my imagination and created for myself. This one was different. She wanted it to be 1 meter x 1 meter in size. This larger size was quite a challenge, huh? Anyway, I accepted the assignment because the woman gave me only a brief concept of what should be portrayed. The rest of the process was left to my vision and imagination.

Of course, at home I started to procrastinate right away. I did everything but the painting. I got mad at myself and that was when I thought of reaching out for a helping hand from my Creative Child.

My Creative Child was the one who kept me tuned in during my pregnancy period—she learned Spanish with me, she drew pictures with me, and more.

This is the dialogue, which evolved between me and my Creative Child back then in October of 2018:

Note: with my non-dominant hand, which is my left, I write in mirror fashion. Lucia describes this option in her book The Power of Your Other Hand.

Me (with dominant hand):

Hello
again
My sweet
Creative Child!
I missed you
Thank you though
For your help
For an inspiration that you gave me…
That made me Rock!
Now I need you again. I am starting this big piece,
Not yet masterpiece, but… R U there?

Creative Child (with non-dominant hand):

Hey, soul sister!
I am happy to hear that.
I told you then to rely on me.
And now you can and should count on me
As well.
Just give me those brushes and paints, and
Give me good music.
This painting requires good mood.
We should fill it with good vibes.
I will paint it for you.
Turn your brain off, when
I will be painting!
It will be our
masterpiece.
Luv u!
Yuliia's journal entry including mirror writing as recommended in
The Power of Your Other Hand

After this brief dialogue the painting was born. Slowly, piece by piece. And each time I was stuck with something, I’d take a brush into my non-dominant hand and let it flow on a canvas. Each time it’d be like a breath of fresh air. Of course, my non-dominant hand couldn’t draw perfect lines, but painting with my left hand would break the wall so that the right hand could continue its journey.
Yuliia's painting with the help of her Creative Child and non-dominant hand

Yuliia Antonova

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Finding Inner Wisdom through Your Other Hand

Written with Lucia's left hand

Many authors have written to me that they have written books of poetry and inner wisdom that came through their non-dominant hand. The most common description I've heard from these authors is "the book wrote itself."

The words that you see above written with my non-dominant hand, wrote themselves one day when I asked my Inner Wisdom to speak. As usual I had no idea what would appear on the page. When I have asked for guidance from a well of wisdom deep within myself, I have always received nurturing words of comfort as well as insights to apply in my everyday life and work. When I was completing the last chapter of The Power of Your Other Hand, entitled The Hand of God Within, I turned to my other hand, giving it the last word. Here is what it said in my non-dominant hand:

Just say that the deepest
well of inner knowing
and of peace is within
everyone. It can be
reached, in stillness,
in quiet, and in
solitude.

I am here in everyone
and everything and
the glory of being
human is that you
can know and ex-
perience at-one-ment with
me. For we are one.

When you are afraid,
lost, doubting - be
still, go inside and
find your True Self.
I will be there - where
I've always been -
waiting for you to
recognize the truth
of who you really
are.

I will speak through
everything that is so
human in you - your
fellings, your wishes,
your body, your 
relationships.

(Written by my dominant hand)
How do I know I'm not just making you up out of 
my imagination? How do I know that you really exist?

You will know. If you
don't recognize me at
first, eventually you
will. Sometimes when 
you have lost your
way and are far away
from your true Self,
you may doubt that I
exist. That is when you
have forgotten who you
really are. But if you
will speak with me
as you are now, I will
respond. 

Later on
when you read our
conversation, you will
recognize my real-
ness. You will see
your own doubting
mind, and you will
fell my essence
and know it to be
yours. You will see
the difference between
your small, fearful,
anxious self and your
true, beautiful and
peaceful Self. And 
since you have
written both voices,
you'll realize
that they both came
from you. Then you
will see that the
Highest Truth and
Wisdom resides
within you. Everything
else is illusion. You
will see that you've
had it backwards
all these years.

You thought your
self was the little scared,
confused "character"
that doubts and worries
and defends itself. That
is the figment of imagination.
That is the thing you made
up with your mind.

I am the Real You. I
am your True Self
reminding you to
wake up, come home
to the bliss of your
Inner Self.


Lucia
www.luciac.com
www.visioningcoach.org
Order The Power of Your Other Hand (Conari Press 2019) at Amazon.com