Creative prompt: body map

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Body Map 
creative prompt from Coach + heARTist Kara LC Jones
inspired by Arts For Social Change by Beverly Naidus

When my son died at birth, I quickly checked out of my body.  There was so much disappointment, so much grief, and feelings of how my body betrayed me and him entirely.  Later on when talking with a local law maker about getting a state law changed for stillbirth documentation, I was told to my face that I did not give birth to a child.  I was told I had a fetus and *it* was dead.  The law makers were trying to intimidate and shame me -- and other mothers like me -- into being quiet, leaving them alone, to cease our efforts in the fight for women's rights around all possible choices.  While I knew intellectually what they were doing, it was hard on me emotionally because I was still in a crisis of faith about how my body failed me.  With time, conscious processing, and art making, I've been able to explore these issues and try to find ways back into my Power.

So today's prompt is a share for you to explore your relationship with body.  Of course this could work for anyone, but I'm also offering this specifically to women who've had pregnancy or infant death losses.  Just seems to me that this kind of loss complicates our relationships with our bodies, and however empowered we felt prior to the death, there is some shake up with our bodies in grief's wake.  So here's how you can creatively explore this:

  • The first thing you need is the outline of your body or a body shape you feel represents you.  You can either:

     -Get large sheets of butcher paper on which you outline your real body, full size.  This can be a very powerful way to work because you are looking at your actual body shape.

     -OR you can do line drawings in a more representative shape -- click the image at the top of this post to see full size version.  You'll see that I used a very simple outline.  For me, this worked to show the plump, roundness of my body - and it also showed how dis-empowered I felt in my arms.  Empty arms idea.
  • Once you have your body shape, duplicate it three times.
  • Then consider how you feel/felt in your body

          1) at the moment of trauma,
          2) when in an unsafe environment, and
          3) when you feel like you are in a safe environment
  • Ask yourself what color represents each of these times?  Consider how your body felt in each of these times?  Are there areas that felt achy or soothed?  Are there words to represent various parts of your body?  What did the areas surrounding your body feel like?

If you look at the full size version of the image I included at the top, you can see how I played with the areas of my body that felt most affected to me.  The head, the heart, the stomach, and the womb.  You can see how the story of each of those areas changed over time.  You can see how the coloring and lighting changes from version to version.  You could optionally do a fourth body version to explore intentions you'd like to set for your body relationship going into the future.  All of this is just a way to map the story of body with which you are living, to make conscious, the things you may not have realized are at play.  Just try it and see what you discover.

If you do blog post to show results, please feel free to post comment here to share with us!

Miracles to each of you...

[Originally published in Radical Creativity, January 26, 2010]

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