The river is a meaningful symbol for many people.
The flowing element of a river symbolises purity, healing and cleansing. Rivers also symbolise irreversible passage of time, going with the flow, indicates the need to take some important decisions to shape your life, represent pleasures, peace and riches and flow of energy.
The source of the river (where the river starts) can be seen as the symbol for the early years of life.
The twists and turns in the river as it flows away from its source can be seen as the different periods of life (the wild and stormy times, sometimes murky, turbulent and fast flowing). Then there are the peaceful times (where the river runs gently and is cool and refreshing).
Various tributaries branching off from the river represents the major influences in life.
The twists and turns in the river are shaped by the various people, experiences and events which have been important influences in our lives.
Have you ever taken some time out to reflect on your life?
Would you consider using the River of Life exercise to do this? Allow me to explain how the River of Life exercise works:
1. Take a sheet of paper (as big as you need it to be)
2. Get some coloured pens, pencils or wax crayons – as many colours as you need
3. Draw a river – showing the source (this represents your birth – where your life started)
4. Show the flow of the river indicating the different periods of your life (the wild and stormy times, the murky, turbulent and fast flowing times). Show the peaceful times (where the river runs gently and is cool and refreshing). Examples: the teenage years, your 20’s, 30’s and any other milestones in your life, rites of passage etc
5. Show the different tributaries (name each tributary) indicating the major influences in your life.
6. Draw pictures around the river to show the people, experiences and events which have been important in your life (and helped shape you into the person you are now).
Use as many colours as you need. Make your river as large as you need. Reflect on each stage as you do your drawing.
1. Has this exercise been helpful?
2. How did you feel while doing this exercise? What emotions were evoked during this exercise?
3. What did you learn about yourself during this exercise?