Mindful Writing for Healing
There is a growing body of evidence that mindfulness benefits us in many ways. The assertions from these studies suggest that mindfulness boosts the immune system, increases positive emotions and helps us handle stress more effectively (Kashdan & Biswas-Diener, 2014). Today, most people have an idea of what it means to practice meditation and be mindful. However, these ideas are often associated with images of Buddha, gurus, yogis or monks, sitting calmly in a state of other-worldliness. While it is true that Buddha, gurus, yogis and monks from all over the world have practiced the Art of Being Present for thousands of years, this association leaves many people feeling intimidated by, or uninterested in, pursuing the exploration of the Practice itself. Oftentimes, I hear that people are “unable to meditate” or their “minds won’t shut off”. What if I told you that the fundamental concept of meditation and mindfulness practice consists of nothing more than being attentive to your present experience? What if I told you that you didn’t have to wear a saffron robe and sit on a cushion to practice meditation, or that a very deep mindfulness practice could evolve through something as simple as writing? Would you be willing to give it a try?
The first time I ever shared a piece of my soul with another person through the medium of pen and paper, I watched as tears rolled down their cheeks. In that moment, I realized the universality of human experiences and the ability we all possess to deeply connect with ourselves and one another through the art of writing. I experienced something therapeutic through this process of vulnerability and I began to share more and more of myself with those around me. The responses I received from the readers of my material motivated me to continuously muster up the courage it takes to sit with my own (sometimes crazy) mind, and allow the flow of creativity to dive deeper into my being. This creative energy would sometimes take me through some dark and difficult truths about myself and my life. Through this process of allowing though, I would be filled with light and love, and always…someone, anyone, everyone, could relate to these experiences.
Eventually, I realized that writing was a form of meditation for me; a place of intentional presence which always provided deep, transformative healing. After this realization, I became curious about a disciplined meditation practice that didn’t involve a medium. I wondered if I could increase my focus, concentration and ability to be present through sitting and breathing. And if I could, how would this impact my writing process? I began a very demanding practice of Zen Buddhism and found not only my writing, but my entire life enriched. I soon joined Dharma Punx, an organization that practices Theravada (a branch of Buddhism that uses Buddha’s teachings preserved in the Pali Canon) and gained experience in giving Dharma talks, practices in Metta, and walking others through guided meditations. A miraculous healing was taking place within me and I absolutely HAD to share it. ALL of it!
I began to create writing and meditation workshops and offered them, in service, to a population of incarcerated women. I started collaborating with a non-profit organization called Guitar Doors and volunteered to write lyrics and music with the juvenile population at Long-Creek facility. I wrote articles for DOCtalk and The Portland Press Herald about my experiences within the workshops. However, words could never capture the miracles in healing that I have witnessed through the simplicity of writing, sharing, and connecting (with ourselves and others). My intention is to continue providing a safe place for people to come to know themselves through the art of writing and meditation. My hope is that through this exploration of self, one will feel empowered to truly connect with others in a deep and meaningful way.”
Although it is agreed upon that mindfulness involves managing one’s focus of attention, there are many theories surrounding which way is most effective for a solid writing practice. Some teachers suggest directing attention to external stimuli while others suggest directing attention to the internal processes of thoughts, feelings, and sensations. Some would even emphasize being open and receptive to all stimuli that enters our awareness, whether internal or external. These are just a few examples of ways to practice and each distinction in approach can be traced to different ancient meditative traditions. In my opinion, every approach holds value for anyone wanting to explore a writing practice. Writing is an invitation for us to pay attention, to explore our perspectives, to contemplate and capture our experiences, and to honor them by giving them life. Perhaps you should RSVP.
Marion Anderson is a Creative Writing and Meditation Instructor and Usui Reiki II Practitioner who resides with her partner in the Bangor, Maine area. Marion is a student at Southern New Hampshire University working towards her Bachelor degree in Psychology. Alternative healing modalities have been a passion for nearly a decade and studied under Reiki Master/Teacher Kathy Thurston and Amy Burgoyne. Marion’s intention is to continue providing a safe place for people to come to know themselves through the Art of Writing and Meditation and to offer the healing energies of Usui Reiki. Marion currently works alongside MJ Allen of Presence of Mind Wellness Center in Portland, Maine and Amy Burgoyne at Sacred Core Wellness Center in Bangor, Maine. For more information, visit: www.presenceofmindstudio.com.