New Year is coming up and most of us start the year with a list of hopes and dreams. But even the best resolutions frequently collapse come February (or the first boring day back at work). So how can you turn wishful thinking into solid reality? One rather delightful way of manifesting your dreams is to use treasure maps (otherwise known as vision boards). I’ve been using this simple, fun tool for over twenty years now – and it is one of the most powerful self-transformation techniques I have ever come across. Treasure mapping/vision boarding can help you create the life you really want. It can bring you a new job or a perfect partner; help you lose weight or start your own business; travel the world or start a family.
Basically a treasure map is a large piece of paper covered with images that reflect a goal, a desired outcome, your ultimate dream. The idea is that, by giving your subconscious a graphic blueprint of what you want and need, it will work at ways of making that a reality.
‘A treasure map is an actual physical picture of your desired reality,’ says Shakti Gawain, author of the classic book, Creative Visualisation (New World Library), and a longterm advocate of treasure-mapping. ‘It is valuable because it forms an especially clear, sharp image which can then attract and focus energy into your goal. It works along the same lines as a blueprint for a building.’
It’s not certain exactly who first came up with the idea of treasure mapping but Barbara Laporte, author of Goal Achievement through Treasure Mapping (Heartlifter Publications) says, ‘It’s probably safe to say that the concept was born during the New Thought movement of the 19th century. Philosophers and writers such as James Allen in Britain and William James in the United States advocated the belief that you are what you think, and similarly treasure mapping teaches that our thoughts help create our reality. It’s not magic – it’s simply the Law of Attraction.’
The subconscious understands images and symbols much better than it understands words. It’s the reason why dreams won’t spell out an answer in literal form but will often work in images, symbols or even puns. It’s also the reason why processes like art therapy can be so incredibly powerful and healing. By making a treasure map you’re giving a clear message to your subconscious: I want this! Get it for me! Obediently, the subconscious will do its darndest to manifest whatever it is you want – be it your perfect job, ideal relationship, fit healthy body, a trip round the world or a new house in the country.
Possibly my most memorable treasure map experience occurred when I was living in London and desperate to move out to the country. I made a map with all the elements I wanted in my dream life: a grand Georgian country pile, a big dog, a hammock under trees, a gorgeous garden, lazy country walks, a typical country wedding. I couldn’t remotely afford a grand Georgian pile but – guess what – I got it! Okay, it was only half of an old rectory and most of the land had been sold off – but it fulfilled the criteria of my treasure map to a tee. I had the perfect country wedding with a marquee on our lawn – and was given a big soppy boxer puppy as a wedding present. I laugh at that old self now but still…
Barbara Laporte recalls her first treasure map. ‘I created my first treasure map following my divorce in 1987. I wanted to ‘manifest’ a partner for me and a good male role model for my young children. That holiday season I began dating the minister of our church and we were married the following May. So my first success took less than a year. My new husband and I then successfully (and much more quickly) treasure mapped to sell our houses and find a new one. I find it so powerful because when people commit to the steps, and truly believe they deserve to accomplish the goal, they will manifest their intentions, providing the motivation behind the goal is pure.’
Laporte often uses treasure mapping as part of her work as a careers consultant. She recalls a woman who had had lost her job when her company reorganised. She loved her job but wasn’t wild about the environment in which she worked so she put together a map that included her and her husband’s desire to be near water. ‘Through a series of connections, she was offered a job in Australia. Then her husband was also offered work out there and now they are living in an apartment that overlooks the ocean.’ Job done.
There are many different ways of treasure-mapping. Barbara likes her clients to focus on just one area, one issue, at a time so the message to the subconscious is absolutely clear. She also combines treasure-mapping with positive visualisation, affirmations and expressions of gratitude.
Other treasure mappers divide the paper into various areas, to represent particular areas of your life that need change. Some like to use words and phrases alongside images, or include positive affirmations on their maps. I always like to include a photo of myself in the centre of the map. Your images should always be positive and many treasure mappers also believe they should always be in colour. After that, it is up to you – find images that really speak to your soul; that make you go ‘Oh yes!’. You want images that give you that frisson…
Barbara Laporte’s rules for successful treasure mapping
1. You must truly believe that you deserve to accomplish your goal.
2. Clear your mind and space of everything that doesn’t support your goal. So, clutter clearing could be useful as would setting aside your negative thoughts about your goal (‘I can’t ever lose weight’; ‘I won’t ever get that job’; ‘I never meet the right men’ and so on). Turn them round, into positive affirmations: ‘I now choose to be my ideal weight’ and so on.
3. Learn to appreciate the current circumstances of your life. Instead of focusing on what is wrong in your life, look at what works. Be grateful for the bits of your life that are going right (however small they may be).
4. Create your map, using pictures and words that describe your goal. Barbara’s approach is very focused – only choose images that directly relate to your goal. It’s better to take images from magazines rather than drawing them.
5. Affirm that your goal is manifesting (whether or not outer circumstances seem to back that idea up). Use positive affirmations – for example: ‘I am finding my ideal partner’ – or ‘Every day I am getting slimmer and more fit and healthy’.
6. Express gratitude and be ready to receive all the blessings that appear in your life. Every night, before you sleep, think of ten good things that happened during the day and be grateful.
Treasure map as spiritual guide
I also like to use treasure maps in a more fluid way, to find out what your soul, or psyche truly desires. I realised the magic of this when I was putting together a treasure map, ostensibly to find a new house. When I looked at the images I had picked, I was stunned to find that they were less about houses, than about families. All the pictures were about nurturing, about babies, about new life. Just a few days later, I discovered (to my immense surprise) that I was pregnant.
I also use my treasure maps as a guide to what I really need in my life. If a lot of images of people flopped out on beaches or having massages appear, it’s usually a clear sign that I’m tired and need to take my life down a gear or two.
How to make a treasure map (fluid approach)
• Get together a stack of old magazines – the wider the selection the better.
• Browse through, snipping out any images that appeal to you. Try not to think about it too much. Don’t worry if they seem ridiculous or impossible or selfish. Feel free to snip out huge houses, or fancy cars, or gorgeous clothes if they truly call. You could find yourself drawn to more general images – people having fun, relaxing, playing with children or animals. They might even be quite abstract – colours, or shapes
• Now put your pile of clippings aside for about a week.
• This time go through them and pull out those that are your absolute favourites. You will be putting them on a large sheet of paper – anything up to about three feet square – so you can have a good choice. But ensure that each one really gives you a tingle down your spine.
• Stick those images onto the paper. You can also include a photograph of yourself and any phrases that ring true. Poetry or quotations are fine too. Now put the ‘map’ where you will see it on a regular basis – opposite your desk, or in the kitchen for example.
• If at any time, an image doesn’t ring true, take it off.
So, if there’s something you’ve always wanted (or even if you would like to know what you really really want) – try treasure mapping. Just be warned: your dreams may well come true.
A treasure map for every goal
Use these ideas to get you started – but remember it is your map.
• Losing weight. Pick pictures of women looking gorgeous and healthy and your ideal (healthy) weight. If you used to be slim, include a photo of you at your ideal weight. Include pictures of healthy slimming foods and people doing fun exercise. Include an affirmation, ‘I now choose to weigh X stone.’
• Finding love. Choose pictures of couples happy and in love. Write out words that describe your ideal partner. Find pictures of people doing the things you enjoy or would like to do with your partner. Affirm: ‘I am ready for love. I am finding my perfect partner. I’m ready for a fabulous surprise.’
• Success at work. Whether you need a first job or want a promotion, pick images that show people achieving, daring, excelling. The images will depend very much on the job you want – look for the mood (strong leadership, calm focus etc). Include words like ‘Congratulations!’ and ‘You got it!’
• New home. Find pictures of the kind of home you want; interior and exterior. Also include images that sum up the kind of feeling you want from your home. If there is a particular area you want to be in, add a map – you could print one off Google Earth. Include a SOLD sign and maybe a picture of people shaking hands, clinching the deal.