What is your vision of a perfect life? When you try on clothes in a store, what image of yourself do you imagine presenting to the world? Or take a moment to think about what makes you unhappy and then consider its opposite. For example, if you don’t like your house, what are you comparing it with in your head? We all have visions of an ideal life either in conscious fantasies or in dreams submerged beneath duty and perceived obstacles.

Quantum physics now proves what Hindus and Druids have believed for centuries – that are thoughts and deeds have power beyond our immediate circumstances. Karma is the law of cause and effect – the proverbial ripple in the water returning the energy we emit magnified. By sharpening our desires into focused intent, we can manifest them into creation.

Our requests of the Universe can be clarified through constructing visual portrayals similar to the way we pray to images of specific deities such as Lord Ganesha for removing obstacles or the Goddess Lakshmi for obtaining wealth. Through building and maintaining a collage of pictures and words, we can create a treasure map to our innermost desires.

But creating a vision board, or soul collage, is not as simple as it sounds. True desire could be screaming in our heads or a mere whisper. If we’re not in sync with what we really want, what we produce will become just another piece of clutter as we gripe about its failure.

It’s taken me over three years to do my soul collage even though I’d gathered enough bits and pieces from random printed material to do about 10 of them. I knew my Hindu philosophy and was further encouraged by the quantum physics gurus in What the Bleep Do We Know to manifest my will into the Universe. I’d done small versions of the collage that neither satisfied nor compelled me well before the idea was popularized by Oprah, the queen of projects that would make our lives easier if only we had the time to do them. (Still, she’s easier on the wallet than Dr. Oz, who has me running to the store for such things as neti pots and CoQ-10 supplements when I’m not examining the contents of my toilet bowl.)

My problem stemmed from the very piles of images and words I’d collected. How could I manifest a clear vision when it meant making choices? I’m not a simple woman. Daily intentions typically run a few lines, but mine are paragraphs long. I want it all – I don’t want to have to decide between reading Jung or cooking dinner, practicing yoga or quilting. Is it any wonder then that I found myself flummoxed by hundreds of bits of paper and only three foam boards?

Instead of throwing the stuff back into the closet, I used what I’d collected to understand what I truly wanted and created a vision board that compels me to move forward along my chosen path every day. Here is how to develop a collage with insight and clarity:

1. Carve out time to spend on this project as an exercise for enriching your soul. If you treat it like a chore, that’s what it will become. Make it into a relaxing, fun experience by putting on music, burning candles and incense, or meditating.

2. Without thinking too much, gloss through magazines, brochures or catalogs, cutting out words and images that speak to you. Any printed material can inspire the home window-shopper, even junk mail. Just make sure it’s not important – and accept the fact that witnesses might wonder if you’re sending a ransom note.

3. When you’ve amassed a collection of material, start sifting through it and make obvious piles. For example, if you cut out 10 wedding dresses then perhaps you wish to manifest a romantic relationship. Keep the groups of cuttings you make in trays or folders and the project will go a lot smoother than it did for me. Madison the cat decided my foam board looked like a great place to nap, sending those hundreds of paper bits flying all over my home. I’m still finding cutouts of yoga poses and waterfalls everywhere.

4. Buy the materials you prefer to work with on your next shopping trip so you’re prepared. There are a variety of foam boards in terms of color and thickness. Glue sticks or rubber cement will work better than traditional glue.

5. Examine what you’ve collected by going through each pile at a time. What does it say to you? Are you surprised by anything? Duplicates can tell us where we feel voids in our lives while the lack of an activity could indicate your heart isn’t really into it.

6. Pick an image that you feel represents you and place it in either the middle or the top of the foam board. You could even use a photo of yourself that you particularly love. Without pasting anything, start to create sections around the central picture using mostly the words you’ve cut out. See how the seemingly disparate sections fit together to illustrate the complexity of who you are and what you want your life to evoke.

7. Start to replace the headlines with images that convey an even deeper sense of what you want. Leave only the words that you feel most strongly about. Play around with the shape, structure and placement for as long as you need – and remember to have fun. Several headlines can be orchestrated to create illustrations as well.

8. When the collage feels right, get out the glue and make a permanent expression of your inner desires.

A true vision board will be many things once it’s done – a record of who you are right now, a reminder of what you wish to manifest into existence, and a guiding force in prioritizing your life amid the chaos of opportunity and daily demands. The soul collage has limited space much like our lives. We have the infinite capacity to dream and we should aim high, but to make change happen we need the focus of clear direction.

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