Writing From Within and Toward Healing
As we are all isolated from the outside world and often from our own families due to COVID-19, we are finding it difficult to avoid our own thoughts. After all the baseboards have been cleaned, closets cleared out and kitchen cabinets organized we all have to eventually sit and be alone with ourselves. Our daily social interactions have been nearly eliminated as we replace face-to-face with face-time. The laughter of our friends and family has been replaced with the latest COVID-19 news or concerns for the people that we know that have tested positive. This event can bring us up close and personal with our greatest fears but also with our dreams about life when this is all over. As we are thinking about what is important in our lives and reevaluating our priorities, there is an opportunity to mine the old caverns and find those wonderful golden nuggets hidden in the deeply compressed walls of our stories – Yes, “everywhere you go; there you are”.
Since we have been provided with this time – even if we didn’t ask for it – we can use it as a blank page to create something completely free of judgement. Instead of viewing our inner world as endless problems to solve we can instead see it is a gift intended for us to open with great curiosity.
This blog will offer writing prompts to support you in exploring yourself and the world around you. Many of us have allowed our ideas, thoughts and imaginations to be imprisoned, justified by the hustle and bustle of our busy lives. Writing is a wonderful way to put those thoughts somewhere and allow them to be heard or seen. Writing releases our thoughts and weakens their tenacious hold on our minds that can so often drain our precious energy when we try to silence them or bury them deep in the junk drawer of our minds
Writing also has benefits for our immune system. Psychologist, James Pennebaker was a major proponent for writing as a form of healing and found that those who wrote down their deepest thoughts and feelings showed higher T-cell counts, improved liver functions and stronger antibody responses. So, whether you are creating fiction, writing from the deepest and darkest places of your souls, writing to find clarity and perspective during difficult times, or finally writing that family history you always wanted to, you will be simultaneously improving your immune system.
Today, I challenge you to look under the bed and see that there is no monster hiding there waiting for you to swing your legs over the side, to grab hold of your feet and devour them. I challenge you to realize that maybe that monster you feared was just a stuffed animal that fell from your grip as you rushed from your room and out the door to work.
You can use the prompts provided below to write on your own, as a family or share the prompt with a friend and exchange your stories in order to share thoughts, gain insight or just have fun creating stories together. You are also free to write from wherever you are and about whatever you feel like. There are no rules to creative writing. Just keep your pen or pencil going or your fingers on the keypad moving. Do not pause to think, rationalize or reason. Just allow your unconscious, the creative part of your brain, to tell the story. No matter how simple or trivial it may seem in your mind, write it down just as you remember it.
It can often be helpful to have a witness to our writing. I welcome any and all of you to share your creative process, anonymously or not, as your journey may inspire others or spark a tasty memory for baking another person’s story.
Remember, writing for just 5 minutes a day will enhance your immune system.
So, enjoy and stay healthy!!
Tips for Getting Ready to Write:
1) Relax yourself. Take some deep breaths in through your nose and slowly release it through pursed lips as if you are letting the air out of a balloon while pinching the lips of the balloon.
2) Chose a comfortable place and time to write:
3) Embrace your imperfection. Remind yourself that it does not have to be perfect, it is only a moment passing through you.
4) Drift off and allow your unconscious to be front and center and give the neocortex a break:
5) Keep your hand moving. Do not stop. Just keep writing. Even if it is to write “I don’t know what to write.” The words will flow if you just create the space for them and remove any judgement or expectation.
I will leave you with this:
Writing prompt #1:
– Write what you need to write or want to write. Write what you don’t want to write. You can create a list for all of the above and then write from the list.
– Write about the first time you felt fear – personal or as a collective experience (i.e. natural disaster); or write about the first time you remember being isolated from others (for example, a time you were sick, camping alone or even on a retreat).
If you find that your words are quarantining themselves from you, do not worry, just doodle the prompt or collage it!!
Keep your hand moving across the page, free from judgement. Everything that appears on the page is only a moment so capture it and then release it!!
I do recommend that if you are not seeing a therapist that you consider some therapy sessions as things may come up that feel too difficult to hold onto alone.
If you are seeing a therapist, I recommend you bring your writing to your session to explore further – for support in peeling away the emotional onion.