Thursday, June 26, 2008

Writing as Meditation

My friend Gianna over at Beyond Meds was up at 3 am last night writing out her anxieties over a trip she is taking this morning. Her post got me thinking about all of the times I have done exactly that--sat down feeling all wound up about something, scrawled my anxieties or pain or fear (or sometimes all three) across several notebook pages, and come out on the other side feeling, if not better, at least better able to handle the situation.

I don't think you have to be a writer or a long-time believer in the power of journaling to benefit from this sort of catharsis. I think that a torrent of words at the right time can have extremely healing and beneficial effects. I have used writing when I've been in the middle of a difficult situation. Writing helps me sort out what, exactly, is going on, and what, exactly, I'm reacting to. And it helps me figure out what I might do to ease my way through whatever it is I'm going through. It's something you can do, as opposed to just letting events take you where they will...and I'm all about doing something when I'm in the midst of a crisis.

And that's fine for those highly emotional moments when you just need to get it out. But what about for the everyday parts of your life? I have found writing to be an excellent form of meditation. Julia Cameron talks about writing as a form of meditation in the books from her "Artist's Way" series, which include "The Artist's Way", "Walking in this World", and "Finding Water", and also in some of her other books, including "Vein of Gold". Cameron calls it Morning Pages, and Morning Pages are three pages of longhand writing that you do every morning, first thing. They don't have to mean anything, they don't have to be about anything, they don't have to be pretty or spelled right, because nobody is going to see them but you. They are basically a brain dump. Whatever's on your mind, put it down, and you don't ever have to look at it again if you don't want to. It's about the process, not the product. My Morning Pages are usually pretty banal: I can't believe it's morning already. I wish I was still in bed. There is too much to do today and I don't want to do any of it: vacuuming, laundry, grocery shopping...I absolutely don't want to grocery shop because that means I have to figure out what we're going to eat and I don't know what we're going to eat because those kids won't eat anything...

Writing in this way, every morning, feels like meditation. It's part of my routine. It sets me up for the day. I come away from it feeling refreshed and ready to start my day. I suppose it does take a bit longer than your ten-minute mindfulness meditation... but for me, writing is how I make sense of my world, and so for me, writing is a perfect form of meditation.

Writing Prompt: Set aside twenty minutes or so and do a brain dump. Just write whatever is on your mind no matter how mundane or boring. Even if you have nothing to say, write that. The trick is to just keep your hand moving the pen across the page for twenty minutes. When you have finished, sit in silence for a few moments and ask yourself how you feel. Do you feel more collected? Less scattered? Consider whether or not a morning brain-dump might be a helpful thing to add to your arsenal of wellness tools.

9 comments:

deepblue said...

I've read The Artist's Way and loved the idea of morning pages. I have yet to actually implement it in that way, but I am a big journal writer and do find it helps clear my scattered brain. I have to get it out and onto paper! I'm finding I do more blogging these days and less writing on paper - but I miss it. Getting feedback is addictive! :)

Shiv said...

That's a really interesting idea, like stream-of-consciousness writing I guess.

Bipolar Wellness Writer said...

Jazz,
Yes, I've used writing for all those reasons. While I haven't been journaling recently, I still use writing to help me clarify my thoughts and to allow my emotions to "get out into the open."

For so many years--a very long time ago--I kept them bottled up inside, which is what caused my very first depressive episode.

Susan

Jazz said...

deepblue--
I agree--the feedback is addictive! I find I've been writing less in the journal since I started blogging. I haven't been that good about doing my Morning Pages, either, but don't tell anyone!

Jazz said...

Shiv--
Yes, it is exactly that--stream of consciousness writing...without any sort of goal except to put yourself in that place that you write from. Sometimes absolutely nothing interesting comes out of it, but regardless of what comes up, I always feel better after doing it. It seems to somehow set me up for the day.

Jazz said...

Susan--
It's interesting, one thing I've noticed in going through my journals is if I'm in a place where I really don't want to face the truth of a situtation, I stop writing in my journal. That's a really good indicator to me that something not good is going on. When I was in a abusive relationship and afraid to get out of it, I stopped journaling for over a year...because I knew that if I wrote I would have to face the truth of my feelings, and I was too afraid of what I knew I would have to do--which was to end the relationship. Fortunately, I did eventually face the fact that I needed to do that. But if I'd been able to be honest with myself in the first place, I probably wouldn't have stayed with the guy for three miserable years.

Sandee said...

Okay a "brain dump" never thought about it that way. It is sorta cleansing to journal. Your are write when I am not journaling, I find my moods are worse. Love today's writing prompt.

Lizzie said...

I think "dumping the brain" is better than dumping on someone. I wish Julia Cameron had an online chat room. I love her work and it sounds like there are many out there who use it.

Jazz said...

I like the idea of a brain dump, too, and as Lizzie says, it's better to dump on paper than to dump on someone who doesn't deserve it.

Lizzie, I also love Julia Cameron's work. I've worked through most of her books and found them incredibly helpful.