Writing and Meditation
The pen is indeed stronger than the sword, especially for the individual bound up in thinking that will not quit. Writing is a meditative tool par excellence. Some days, it serves as a conduit to meditation; on other days, the act of putting thoughts on paper becomes the meditation itself. It is a way to clarify our ideas and intentions, put boundaries around our fears, and resolve issues that otherwise float, inchoate, in a tangled mess of intentions and desires. Used on a regular basis, writing helps us to stay serene and focused amidst a crazy world.
Why not try writing as meditation, or as a part of a meditative practice? The materials could not be easier to find. A pen that feels good in the hand is important, as is paper large enough to stay put for a few paragraphs. There are many beautiful journals out there, but college ruled notebook paper or a simple legal pad works just as well. Spiral binders can be uncomfortable when they rub against the writing wrist, but this is solved by turning the notebook so that the binder is on top. An added bonus here: writing across the lines feels transgressive and free, which then encourages thoughts to do the same. For the same reason, it might be fun to write with a color other than dark blue or black. How about using a highlighter? Feel free to experiment!
Consider issues of privacy before beginning. No one is honest when worried about their words falling into the wrong hands. Is there a reason to keep the writing after it is finished? Perhaps tearing up the completed writing can be a symbolic way to release the emotions and thoughts. If we want to be able to return to entries at a later time, we should plan on finding and using private storage, whether that be in a knitting bag, under the mattress, or wherever else.
Once materials have been gathered and privacy is assured, it is time to begin. Dating the entry and noting the environment are time-tested ways to start. From there, write freely. Perhaps begin by answering a question. Here are some ideas:
What is bothering me today?
I am angry because….
I am afraid of _____ because….
I would be happy if only……..
Some people set a timer and write for fifteen (or ten, or twenty, or however many) minutes. Others continue on for three pages. If you run out of things to say before you are finished, try writing the last phrase over and over until something new comes to mind. Or start a new paragraph with a new topic. The act of writing for a specified amount allows the stuff on top to get written down first, making room for undercurrents to then rise to the surface. It gets easier with each successive writing session.
We may need to write certain emotions or events more than once to find relief. However, the act of regularly journaling will eventually make us lighter and freer. From here, we may pursue a formal meditation, or we may find that the writing has done all we need for the day. Either way, we have found success.
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