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Writing to Heal and Grow

Frightened and pregnant with my first child, I was diagnosed with a severe case of Preeclampsia, also called Toxemia, a toxic blood condition. It endangers the life of the baby and the mother.

Confined to bed rest, I spent many hours home alone and isolated while my then-husband, and the rest of the world went about their business. That was many cities, career moves and family transitions ago. I wrote my hopes and fears, and conversations with my unborn child. I started keeping a journal, and never stopped.

That was almost 40 years ago. As I look back at that young woman, I am grateful for her empowering herself with what proved to be an invaluable healing tool. Little did I know at the time, the ritual would evolve into a creative discipline, and eventually a spiritual practice. Last but not least, I honed my writing skills, which formed the foundation of my journalism and communications career.

Not everyone enjoys writing. Committing our voices to paper can be daunting. But writing permits a dialogue with your subconscious that can shine light on your hidden thoughts, ideas and emotions. This in turn can provide you with the gift of clarity. Your perspective changes when you see your ideas on paper. You do not have to be a writer to benefit from journaling.

All you need is a clean sheet of paper, a pen and a quiet place.

Write by Hand. If absolutely necessary, your laptop is an acceptable substitution for a pen. However, writing by hand is preferable. Author of "Writing Down the Bones" and fellow yogi, Natalie Goldberg, elegantly makes a convincing case for the alchemy of writing, thinking and our body mechanics. Several years ago, when I had a writer’s block, I began following her writing exercises. They encourage writing nonstop for 30 minutes. Write whatever comes to mind on the page, without regard for punctuation, grammar or the rules. I’ve developed a strong editor over the years, so I found this part difficult. Not only did it open me up to new ideas and insights, but completely healed the stiffness in my right hand that I thought was arthritis or carpal tunnel. How's that for a metaphysical metaphor?

Empty your mind of your preconceived ideas. Part of the reason you’ve been unable to discover the purpose of your life may be your erroneous thinking. Too often we limit ourselves. The answers to the really big questions often lie in places we never bother to look within ourselves. So try to keep an open mind.

Write, “What is my life purpose?” at the top of the page. This sets the stage and informs your subconscious of your purpose. Write whatever comes to mind. You might think, “This is a dumb idea.” That’s fine. Write it down. Avoid judging any of your thoughts.

Allow Yourself 30 minutes. This brings me back to why I get up most mornings before the roosters. Initially, the habit was borne form sheer necessity. As a working mother – and what mother isn’t? – this was the sacred space I carved out for myself. Over the years, I’ve grown to love the meditative quality of this time of day. It doesn’t matter what spot or time you choose. Protect it. Give yourself at least 30 minutes, if you can. You need the first 15 minutes to rid yourself of your mental clutter.

Stick with the process. At some point, you’ll want to quit or do something else instead. But consistency is the key. Our fears of learning or facing the truth are often loom bigger in our minds. There’s something empowering about encapsulating them into words on paper. The act of writing can help you work through discomfort.

Keep writing until you find “it.” How will you know? You’ll know. You’ll probably even cry. Just keep writing until you’re certain you’ve found it. Pay attention to the answers that inspire you, and instill the greatest emotional surge.

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