Mindfulness: Maori Drawing Exercise

I recently received a promotional email from a local community arts center advertising an online class called "Mindfulness: Maori Drawing Exercise." The basic idea of the Maori Drawing Exercise is that you follow a prompt to draw a scene, which then is used to analyze your state of mind. I had a vague memory that I might have done this during a leadership training when I was a teenager, but if I had done it, it'd been at least 30 years. I was overdue for a state-of-mind analysis, so I gave it a try. 

If you'd like to participate, do so before you see my results. First, draw a large circle on a piece of plain paper. Then add the following eight items into your drawing:
  • Snake
  • Flower
  • Butterfly
  • Bird
  • Path
  • Mountain
  • Shelter
  • Tree

Take as much time as you want and whatever details you like. Color is optional. 


Ready to see mine?

Now for my analysis. I used this site for reference. 

The first step is to identify any extra items beyond the assigned eight. I added grass and fluffy white clouds. These are to be taken literally as items that will help heal any difficulties I have. (I think it's fairly safe to say that in April 2020, I'm not the only person who would enjoy a bit more time outdoors in a grassy field with puffy clouds overhead.)

Next, identify duplicates to see what symbols need to be amplified or deepened in my life. I duplicated the mountain (representing seeking and exploring my connection to faith and spirituality), the bird (which represents my gift of communication), and the flower (the symbol of openness and the ability to grow and blossom without defenses). 

None of my elements are reworked, nor did I fuss over any of them, with the exception of erasing part of the mountain so that my tree could be in the foreground.

Time to divide the drawing into quadrants. The four areas represent the mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical. 

This is my mental quadrant. The bird (communication) and mountains (spirituality) are key to my mental health. Because there are very few symbols there, my mind wants quiet this year.

This is my emotional quadrant. To support my emotional health, I need flowers (openness/growth), a path (direction and goals), and the butterfly (transformation and completion).

This is the spiritual quadrant. It is about trusting in my intuition and spiritual beliefs. I've drawn the tree (authenticity, growth), the bird (communication), and the mountain (spirituality). 

This is the physical quadrant, which includes health, finances, work, and creativity. Since the tree is present in this quadrant, it means that any problem I may have is with the external world, not my health or work. (Yes, I'd say a global pandemic is my biggest problem right now.) This quadrant also has the shelter (sense of self, security) and the snake (transformation, healing, regeneration, renewal).

I enjoyed this exercise. Frankly, I enjoyed drawing a beautiful scene incorporating the eight elements more than I did analyzing what I drew. But the analysis is definitely interesting and some of it seems right on. If I did do this activity as a teenager, it would be fascinating to compare the drawings from then and now. 


  1. Wow!! That sounds like an amazing exercise! I love it!

  2. Fascinating! I can't wait to see how the analysis manifests.


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