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

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Bilateral Drawing: Balancing and Relaxing with Both Hands

In Chapter Five of The Power of Your Other Hand, I introduced bilateral drawing. That is defined as drawing done with both hands at the same time. Since the book was first published in 1988, many therapists and art therapists have applied bilateral drawing with clients. One of these is Cornelia Elbrecht, who has written a whole book on the subject entitled, Healing Trauma with Guided Drawing: A Sensorimotor Art Therapy Approach to Bilateral Body Mapping (North Atlantic Books, 2018). I recommend this book for anyone interested in either trauma work or the benefits of bilateral drawing.

In this post, you will see some examples of my own bilateral journal drawings and a video by Amanda Joy Wells, a graduate of our Creative Journal Expressive Arts and Visioning® Coach Training programs. Some of these drawings illustrate techniques I introduced in The Power of Your Other Hand and later books. You’ll see these in the video below. Other drawings show new variations on this method from my own journal. I will also discuss benefits of bilateral drawing based on my observations of clients and students for over 40 years.

I started the journal session illustrated here by putting some relaxing music on. I suggest using music that you enjoy and that relaxes your mind and body. Music can help to soothe a busy, over-active and chatty left brain and stressed out nervous system. The first drawing shows a single page in my journal (8 ½ X 11 in.) on which I drew with two crayons in 2 different colors. I had been stressed out due to many professional responsibilities I had been carrying at the time. I realized later that the drawing resembled graphs I’ve seen of the human brain. I had not intended this. It just happened. The connecting fibers, the corpus callosum, seem quite clear in this drawing. I was not trying to draw recognizable objects or symbols, but noticed this brain image after the drawing was completed. Somatically (in my body and brain) I felt more relaxed after doing the drawing. That was my goal.

This kind of pattern is called mirror symmetry and is the first prompt in Chapter 5 for bilateral drawing. In observing clients and students, I notice that when asked to draw with both hands simultaneously, this is the most common pattern they make. It is spontaneous and apparently very natural. That makes sense because the human brain and body are actually a mirror symmetry design. So is the common symbol for the human heart. Think of making Valentine cards as a kid by folding paper in half and cutting half a heart. When you open it, a full heart appears. That’s how you can tell it is mirror symmetry. The halves mirror each other. We also make paper people cutouts this way. Why? Because humans are constructed in a mirror symmetry design. So are butterflies, another image that often appears spontaneously in bilateral drawings.

I decided to continue drawing with both hands at once and expanded onto 2 pages, also known as “a double page spread”. Each hand held a different color crayon and even changed colors from time to time. Each hand was drawing the same pattern, but as a mirror image of its “partner’s” drawing. I felt more and more relaxed with each drawing.

On another day, shortly after this, I did a single page drawing, again using both hands, each with it’s own color. Again, this was accompanied by relaxing recorded music. This time I used another prompt from Chapter 5 of The Power of Your Other Hand. In this prompt, you draw with both hands, using 2 colors, and each hand “does it’s own thing.” I found this quite energizing and relaxing at the same time

Then I drew a “duet” with both hands, using 2 different colors. In this case, my hands wanted to draw the same spiral pattern collaboratively. I found this spiraling motion very relaxing and could feel a balancing happening inside my brain. Later I shifted to using 2 pages in the journal for more Bilateral Drawing. My hands spontaneously created multi-colored mirror image drawings. These were more textured and involved and I spent more time drawing them. The result was a relaxed state, but I also noticed a decided increase in energy.

I hear this a lot from people doing bilateral drawing. Regardless of which particular prompt they are using, drawing with both hands seems to help people slow down, relax, enjoy the moment (mindfulness) and what is happening in the now. The report a feeling of freedom, playfulness and urge to be more creative in many ways.

Amanda Joy Wells created this excellent video of bilateral drawing. It demonstrates the benefits and the amazing experience of drawing with both hands at once. Enjoy!


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Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Visioning® through Collage and Non-Dominant Hand Writing

In my book Visioning: Ten Steps to Designing the Life of Your Dreams, I present my method of life and career creation, which I originated and share in my private coaching practice. The Visioning® process includes the making of collage Vision Boards followed by Creative Journal writing to remove blocks and deepen one’s understanding of the images. Almost all of the writing prompts involve using the non-dominant hand or both hands alternately.

I have observed that we all have natural intuitive abilities to sense what is coming next in our lives. We have hunches or premonitions. We may even have a nocturnal dream that plays itself out in our daily life. This intuitive ability is often buried inside our heart’s desire, which is the core of Visioning®. That is what we are illustrating with our Vision Board. Intuition and the ability to sense the future can be developed with a combination of collage work and non-dominant handwriting. By writing dialogues with the images and words in the Vision Board, we often find much deeper meaning in the visuals than we ever imagined when we tore them out of the magazine. In reviewing our Vision Boards a few weeks or months down the line, we frequently find images and words that are specifically prophetic about what was to come.

A great example is my Vision Board for 2019 and how it manifested.

When I started putting this six-panel Vision Board together in January of last year, I was thinking about a spring and summer book tour for The Power of Your Other Hand. I knew I would be going all over California as well as Texas and New Mexico. Two panels show southwestern scenes as well as seaside areas near where I live on the central coast. That all made perfect sense. It was already part of the “plan.”

I also had some thoughts about a possible vacation later in the year in a favorite spot on the Sea of Cortez in Mexico. People having fun on beaches and in swimming pools conveyed that idea, as well as couples dining out. Again, it all made perfect sense.

However, as the process of selecting photos and words for the Vision Board evolved, I found myself including other images that, quite frankly, surprised me. But they “felt right” and I knew I had to include them. One was the image of Helen Mirren, one of my favorite actresses, along with the words.

 Love who you see in the mirror
Look closer and you’ll see
Renewal happens
Get brighter eyes in a blink
See for yourself
Just as you imagined

In an adjacent section of the collage there is a woman and little girl painting and a palette with many colors. At the time, the palette seemed very important to me, but I wasn’t sure why. I hoped I would be able to do more painting just for fun in the new year, although I didn’t know when I’d find time for that. There were also images of gardens and gardeners in a nearby section. I took that to mean that my garden, especially my pride and joy - iris garden - would flourish this year.

I did go on the book tour, as shown in the Vision Board, which was very successful and most enjoyable. And we did go on a short getaway on the central coast and a longer one in Cabo San Lucas, also shown on the Vision Board. No surprise there. But wait, there’s more!

New eyes

In the spring after I made this Vision Board, at a regular check-up with my optometrist, I was told I needed to have cataracts removed. When I made the collage I never anticipated needing cataract surgery. I got the surgery, which was highly successful, and no longer need distance glasses, only glasses for reading and computer work. After revisiting my collage, the words in the first panel I did took on a whole new meaning.

Love who you see in the mirror (I can literally see myself better in the mirror now.)

Look closer and you’ll see (I no longer need distance glasses, and only have glasses for reading and computer work.)

Renewal happens (I can see color in a way I hadn’t for years: without the yellowish caste that cataracts cause.)

Get brighter eyes in a blink (The surgery was painless and fast, each eye done a week apart.)

See for yourself (I am amazed at my “new eyes”.)

Probably the most amazing aspect of cataract surgery for me was the new intensity of color. Without realizing it over the years, white had become yellowish, blue had become dull and greenish, purples looked maroon, and reds looked brownish. I felt like a I had a new wardrobe. Certain articles of clothing were very different in hue than I thought when I bought them. Get brighter eyes in a blink became a reality, in the sense that I got brighter colors in a blink.

And that brings us to the image of the color palette in the collage. Here’s what I wrote about color in my journal while reviewing my Vision Board on April 8, after the surgery:

New eyes, new colors,
New blues, new reds, new purples, new whites, new pinks.

One day while driving around town on errands and marveling at how blue the sky was, I found myself singing the old song, “On a clear day you can see forever.” I hadn’t really seen the true color of the sky and white clouds for quite a few years, it seems. With my non-dominant hand I did a lot of journaling with and about my “new eyes” and what I was seeing. Without realizing it, all those words about seeing had been a preview of coming attractions,

The artist within

Based on the prophetic images in my collage, there was another surprise in store. In the spring I heard about some masters of Chinese Brush Painting who were coming to our area. I immediately registered for classes and workshops with them. This was the manifestation of the image of the woman and girl painting together.

Why is the girl there? I had wondered, when I selected the image. Why not just the woman? As it turned out, taking these art classes took me back to when I began studying art in the 8th grade at Otis Art Institute in Los Angeles on Saturdays. My collage really reflected this experience of being a novice in this particular genre of art. As a teenager I had discovered Japanese and Chinese brushes, and I have painted with them all my life (see my earlier post on Zenga Art). However, I had never taken formal instructions in how to use these particular types of brushes. Nor did I know much about Chinese art. These traditional techniques of Chinese painting were new to me. So I did feel like that 8th grader starting all over again.

A new garden design

In relation to the garden section of my collage, we had another surprise in the spring. This one wasn’t pleasant at all. When the irises started blooming, they were eaten by wild bunnies invading our property from the nearby pine forest. They were chewing on the stems and destroying some of the plants. In all my years of growing irises, this had never happened before. I was beside myself about the damage these bunnies were doing. We sprayed the plants, powdered them with cayenne pepper, and tried every deterrent on the market. All to no avail.

 So we redesigned and rearranged the placement of some of the plants, and built a fence to protect them. As pictured in the collage, we did do lots of gardening in 2019, but not the kind we had anticipated. I’m happy to say that most of the plants survived and we are looking forward to a “renewal” in the spring.

If you are interested in learning this process, contact me about one-on-one Visioning® Coaching via Skype.

Visioning: Ten Steps to Designing the Life of Your Dreams by Lucia Capaccchione (Tarcher/Putnam, 2000)



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Order The Power of Your Other Hand (Conari Press 2019) at Amazon.com