“Not all writing is political or revolutionary, but the very act of giving yourself permission to write, to speak, to share the truth no matter whether the truth you understand is the truth others want to acknowledge, is brave, powerful, and important.” ~ Dinty W. Moore, ‘The Mindful Writer: Noble Truths of the Writing Life’
The list of activities that you can utilise as opportunities for mindfulness is long. However, writing is a particularly wonderful tool when it comes to exploring and understanding the world and what is going on in your head. I started writing recreationally about four years ago through a personal blog, initially to give myself something creative to do. I had no expectation as to what the act of writing about my life would give me. Four years later I can safely say that writing has given back significantly more than I had expected. It has made me more observant, it has helped me to articulate my thoughts and opinions and it has helped me to unload tensions and baggage. Most markedly though, the act of writing has improved my relationship with myself, and my relationship with others and the world around me.
So, I can vouch for the power of putting pen to paper. If you are already a writer, here are some ways to make your experience more mindful. If you are new to writing, hopefully this will encourage you to give it a try…
1. No Such Thing as Perfect
Many people fear writing because they worry that the resultant words might be rubbish! ‘What will I write?’ ‘What if it’s no good?’ First of all, nobody need judge your writing but you, if that’s what you want. What is most important, in terms of mindfulness, is the starting of the task; the intent. Put all doubt to one side, put pen to paper, and just see where the ink takes you. I often find that your thoughts and imagination will whisk you off somewhere that you don’t quite expect. It’s like releasing a valve; once you know all that’s coming out is steam, it’s not so scary. The number of times I’ve read my writing back and thought, ‘you know what? That is pretty good’, are too many to count.
What to write? Well, what else but what’s in your head? Remember when you were a kid and writing your thoughts and feelings into a journal was perfectly normal? For an adult, writing journals is not really a thing. The doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be. The best thing about writing a journal is that it gets all of your feelings and worries out of your head and into the world. But, writing being a safe and private activity, nobody else has to be involved if you don’t want them to. We spend so much time as adults biting our tongues and hiding our fears, that we can struggle to find an outlet for them. This could be it. A safe and personal way to recognise, explore and understand your thoughts.
I often find writing to be a great way to escape. A period of time where you can get lost in a thought, or in a world of your own making. You can put all other things aside, clear away all fears and distractions, and focus on the activity. You can escape by focusing on the content and where your imagination takes you, and you can also focus on the act of writing. What does the pen feel like? Focus on the way the ink flows on to the paper. Appreciate your handwriting and all its unique quirks.
4. Ditch The Device
We are glued to keyboards and devices today. These are fantastic in so many ways, but for writing and mindfulness, they are not a patch on paper and pen. We romanticise stationery, there’s something about the smell of a notebook or the flow of a certain pen’s ink that can’t be matched by a word document! I get excited about stationery, I don’t know anyone who doesn’t. So, when writing for mindfulness, ditch the keyboard to ensure a more tangible and distraction free experience.
5. Free Writing
If you feel overwhelmed. If you are angry, anxious, afraid or upset for a reason you can’t pin down, then free writing can really help. Set a timer, put pen to paper and see where your mind takes you. It’s a jarring experience at first, put if you persist and even make a habit of it, you will find that you are able to unpack your feelings and emotional triggers much more effectively going forward.
Writing is beautiful in it’s simplicity. I know from experience that everyone has a voice and reading back your own thoughts is one of the most rewarding ways to spend time with yourself. Give it a go, you’ll be surprised at what gifts it will give you.
By Chris Thomson
If mindfulness and words go hand in hand for you, perhaps you’d be interested in how to meditate with a good book? Reading as A Form of Meditation
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