How to Use Collage (not Collagen!) to Make Friends with the Aging Process

When a landmark birthday came up recently, I decided to use collage-making to make friends with time. So often aging is focused on losses (hair, health, friends, fertility, youth). I wanted to step out of the clamor and actively engage with this transition and treasure hunt for gains. Each day for the 30 days before my birthday, I made a collage based on the theme of "making friends with time." The results have been more powerful and positive than I imagined. You can experience this, too. Collage-making is a great complement to your Yoga and meditation spiritual practice.

Why collage? The collective unconscious, as well as our individual psyches, are rich with symbols and images. Unconscious imagery can offer us information when we release them out to where we can see them concretely. Because many of us cannot draw well, we don't consciously access this powerful resource. But since collaging involves playing with images that are already created, we just have to take the time to collect the pictures we want to use and arrange them the way we "need" to see them or how they "ask" to be seen. In addition, collage-making requires few and inexpensive materials: scissors, a glue stick, card stock and any images from magazines and newspapers, photographs, postcards that appeal.

You can give yourself a prompt ("I'm going to gather images about aging and time") or simply allow your intuition take over. Sort through the images and select anything that tugs at you. Images are everywhere and you may find yourself collecting them during the course of your everyday life. You may arrange the pictures as you go, or decide to spend time gathering images before beginning to arrange them. The process is intuitive. You will just know which images you want to gather and where they belong. And, with light applications from your glue stick, you can always move pictures around. You don't have to bring your intellect to this. There is no right or wrong. If it feels mysterious and absorbing, you are on the right track!

When each collage is complete, you have a concrete manifestation of your psyche. You will notice intriguing connections, colors, patterns and shapes. Your collage holds stories and sparks of life. This is where you are, who you are, what you are about now.

You may find yourself puzzled and entranced by your picture. Our world is filled with images used to instruct, stimulate, frighten or persuade; healing images are rarer. Along with helping you make friends with aging and time, your collage may help others become a little more whole. With that in mind, if it feels right, share your work with others.

Creating collages has enabled me to tap inner resources that are endlessly fertile. I am aging, yes, but what is inside me, behind me, before me, beyond me and yet to come, is rich and intricate. The experience of creating and viewing collages has made esoteric mysteries of eternity real to me in an ongoing and visceral way. Actively using art to befriend my own personal aging process immerses me into the deep mystery of time and it can do the same for you.

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