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Easing the Journey Through Shadow & Light

  • Dawn

The Rite of Writing

Ease-ment: Ahhhhhhhhhh

This is just what it looks like—a long, relaxed verbalized sigh. According to neuroscientist Alex Korb, author of The Upward Spiral: Using Neuroscience to Reverse the Course of Depression, One Small Change at a Time , when your exhale is longer than your inhale, it sends a message of safety to the brain. This is also a zapchen exercise. Ahhhhhhhhhh.........

The Rite of Writing

It is wonderful to be here as a human being. It's also terrifying and bizarre, if you think about it very much. So that might be a big reason I tend to avoid writing, even though I love it. Because it seats me right in the middle of this insane and lovely life.

It seems to function as a rite for me. And as with my daily yoga practice and mindfulness meditation:

  • I often resist beforehand, sometimes vociferously.

  • I almost always feel better afterwards--sturdier somehow, and more nourished.

  • It grounds me in peace, with myself, in God.

  • It helps me be more balanced.

It's true--sometimes ideas or scenes or dialogues that rise up really disturb me, and may take quite a bit of work to wade through. But I almost always seem to grow from those pieces or segments, somehow, though it may simply be a growth of humility or even just a "Phew--glad that's over!"

When I write I feel more solidly here, in the flesh. That may seem counterintuitive since

writing is primarily a mind-based activity. But when I write fiction, in order to have feasible and consistent characters, I have to think minutely, almost inch by inch, about how they look and sound, what they see and hear and do, how they would move and interact with a variety of other characters, as well as their environment. But then, in order to help them truly come alive, I have to erase all evidence of my thinking about all those things, as if the characters are as real and natural as the people I see every day. Minute attention to detail, and deep awareness of the larger patterns and beauties and struggles. That's writing. That's life.

When I write in my journal I can see what the different parts of me are thinking and feeling--the responsible and compassionate adult, the dancing five year old, the rebelling but often astute adolescent.

When I indulge in a poem, the words can double back and turn me upside down, giving me a fresh perspective on myself and the world.

And when I write a blog post or an article, I share what is new, exciting, interesting and/or difficult in my life, often teaching just what I need to learn. Another gift.

I love thinking about what I might write, but the actual writing often terrifies me. Because, of course, there are those potential readers out there who might like what I write, but they might just as easily hate it, or pan it, or ignore it or make fun of it. Probably much more easily, says my neurotic self. So I continue to find all kinds of very important non-writing things that must be done now. Like looking at new Websites, reading important (or sometimes profoundly unimportant) articles or books, trying a new recipe.

Which was why I laughed out loud the other day when I came across the following statement by a fellow writer (though I can't for the life of me remember who it is):

"With every project I eventually realize, 'Oh shit - now I have to actually write this!"

What is my rite of writing? To simply show up, put my tuchus on the chair, allow what is inside to find its way out, and then play with the results. Until it feels right.

What a challenge.

What a joy.

What a terrifying and wonderful way to live.

Until next time (which won't be until January 3, 2023; see last week's post--scroll to the end).

Hoping your holidays will be blessed.


Photo credits:

Meditation, Marcos Paulo Prado, unSplash

Eye in the mirror, Vince Felming, unSplash

Writing, Thomas Lefebvre, unSplash


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