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Reflecting on the Past, Present and Future into the New Year

by Lauren Fallat, LPC LPAT ATR-BC

Working with Hand Symbolism

Hands hold significant symbolism in various cultures and contexts.  Universally recognized as tools of connection, hands serve as conduits for communication and touch, facilitating a profound sense of shared humanity. This symbolic significance extends beyond the physical realm, delving into the metaphorical realm where hands are emblematic of personal agency and empowerment.  Across cultures, the clasping of hands in a handshake signifies mutual agreement and trust, while the act of holding hands is a universal expression of unity and support. 

Past, Present, Future

In the realm of art therapy, the imagery of hands becomes a poignant means of tapping into these symbolic resonances. The hands, with their intricate anatomy and expressive gestures, offer a nuanced canvas for self-expression, allowing individuals to explore their own narratives and connections with others.  Outlining one's own hands, for instance, can serve as a profoundly meaningful form of self-expression, especially when contemplating the transition from the old year to the new during this time of year.  

The act of outlining both hands holds the potential to evoke a deeper understanding of one's past, present, and future.  The act of tracing the contours of one's hands becomes an intimate and tactile connection with the self, providing a tangible representation of personal identity. 

Left Hand Symbolism

The left hand, being associated with the past, becomes a canvas for depicting memories and experiences from the preceding year. Through the strokes of the pencil or brush, individuals can visually articulate their reflections, whether these involve achievements, challenges, or moments of personal growth. The left hand serves as a visual timeline, capturing the essence of the past year and allowing for a tangible representation of the journey traveled.

Right Hand Symbolism

Conversely, the right hand, symbolizing the future, becomes an opportunity to envision and express hopes, dreams, and goals for the upcoming year. This side of the exercise encourages participants to explore their aspirations, whether they be related to personal development, relationships, or broader life objectives. The act of drawing or writing on the right hand provides a creative space for articulating and manifesting positive intentions for the future.

The space between the outlined hands, representing the present moment, becomes a focal point for capturing the essence of one's current reality. By drawing or symbolizing what is held in the present, individuals engage with the immediate aspects of their lives—be it relationships, emotions, or personal accomplishments. This visual representation encourages mindfulness, grounding individuals in the awareness of their present experiences and fostering a deeper connection with the unfolding moments as they navigate the transition into the new year.

In essence, outlining one's own hands becomes a holistic and embodied form of self-expression, encapsulating the interconnectedness of the past, present, and future. Through this artistic exploration, individuals engage in a reflective and forward-looking process, gaining insight into their personal narrative and fostering a sense of agency as they step into the unfolding chapters of the new year. The tangible visual outcome serves as a testament to the richness of individual experience and the transformative power of self-expression in the journey of self-discovery.

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