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To allow the separation and healthy integration of past, present, and future experience around a specific issue


Materials needed:

  • paper 

  • something to draw with 

  • a journal or paper and writing utensil. 


Set up: 

Set aside a good amount of time from 30 minutes up to an hour for engaging with this exercise

Gather your materials and find a place in the environment- this could be inside or outside- where you feel comfortable, and won’t be disturbed



To begin, spend some time turning inward and connecting with the mental, physical, emotional (and spiritual, if that feels relevant) experience of being in the present. 

Take time to consider your experience in the past, 

and finally connect with your imagined experience in the future. 

Identify and draw a color, shape, image or symbol that connects to each of these 3 experiences of past, present, and future.


Then, designate a space in your living area to represent the past, one for the present, and one for the future. 


Set an alarm on your phone (1-5 minutes) and move into the area that represents the present. Take time to connect with the visceral experience of being where you are now. 

-How does it feel in your body? 

-How do you move in this space? 

-What images, stories, or ideas come up in this space? 

-What sensations do you notice in your body? 

-What emotions do you feel? 

After the timer rings, set it for the next 1-5 minutes and move to the area in your space that represents the past. See how it feels as you step into this space, and explore the questions listed above. 


Then move to the space designated for the future, exploring the same questions and ideas listed above. 


After moving through each space for the designated time, set a final 1-5 minutes and allow yourself to move through all 3 areas- past, present, and future in whatever way you want. 


Stay for the designated time in each space, and just bring a sense of openness and curiosity. Pay attention to what you notice. 


Finally, take some time to write or draw about your experience. How did it feel to move through each area of present, past, and future. What did you notice, what do you feel now? 

Wrapping up: 

The exercise is meant to give you a sense of clarity and separation around the past, present, and future, and there is no way to do it "wrong". 


Take time to sit with any final images or words and reflect on any new insights, feelings, or ideas. 

Have more questions about EXA? You can check out my blog, which talks more about about expressive arts therapy here.  

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