IN THIS SIX WEEK SERIES, WRITER AEDAMAR KIRRANE WILL GUIDE YOU THROUGH THE PROCESS OF JOURNALING. THIS WEEK SHE EXPLORES WRITING THROUGH THE BLOCKS …
We are now deep into our Journaling to Heal series and many of you will most likely have encountered blocks of one form or another. Whether they are conscious or unconscious, blocks are a fact of life and learning to access the wisdom they hold in them is an artform that can lead to profound healing in our lives.
In my experience, the thing that is blocking us in our writing is also the thing that’s blocking us in our lives so there is a double benefit in finding a gentle way through the block in our journaling. Today we’ll look at powerful practices that help us face the overwhelming whiteness of the blank page in order to get the ink of our pens and our lives running again.
My advice, as ever, is simply to start writing, especially when we feel blocked. The single most powerful practice for discovering what lies hidden in or behind the block is simply to jump in and to start writing. The important thing is to begin to write something – gibberish even, because the magic at play here is that the act of writing itself opens up a path into the unconscious. Even if all you can write is: ‘I have nothing to write … I don’t want to write … I can’t say what I want to say … I don’t know what I want to say … Or even the simple word ‘No, no, no …’
Write exactly that and then keep writing in that vein for at least three minutes or for three pages and then you will find that, in some mysterious way, a richer flow starts. Deeper thoughts begin to come forward and the pen now acts as a channel for these hidden things to present themselves on the page and to your consciousness. Allow your body, your mind and your pen to get into the rhythm and the groove so that you essentially catch your unconscious off-guard and it barely realises that it’s giving up its wisdom.
Once the ideas are flowing, the most important advice I can offer is never to censor or edit yourself as you write. Don’t let the analytical, judgemental brain come in to interrupt the flow. Even if what you are writing seems to be rubbish, just keep writing, because inevitably something better is coming, and there’ll be plenty of time later on to decide upon the meaning of what you have written.
A brilliant exercise to help you write through the self-censorship is to include the censoring or distracting thoughts in what you are writing. For example: ‘I’m writing about ABC but these other thoughts XYZ are coming into my mind, distracting me from my train of thought.’
Record the distracting, intrusive thoughts as part of the narrative you are writing but don’t let them side-track you. You can reflect later on how they might belong to your story. This is similar to how we quieten the mind in meditation such that we notice distracting thoughts but we don’t get distracted by them, we don’t give any energy to them. In journaling equally notice the disruption and the instinct to edit or censor, but don’t give in to it, just include it. Most likely it holds wisdom too.
When the block relates to an old hurt, a painful memory or a difficult emotion there are gentler, more indirect practices we can use to uncover the wisdom hidden inside the block. In this case we approach our journaling with tenderness and compassion for ourselves and for the memory or the issue that is too raw to be faced head on. Remembering that there is catharsis even in just expressing an old hurt, we can write around the block by taking a more sensitive approach with prompts such as these:
• The reason I don’t want to write about [name the issue] is because …
• I’m nervous to put [this] into my journal because …
• I’m fearful that if I put [this] into words that …
A reassuring piece of wisdom to borrow from some of the Ireland’s most brilliant writers, such as Samuel Beckett, Eimear McBride and Anne Enright is that it’s appropriate for broken feelings and emotions to be expressed in broken words on the page. Each of these writers of trauma fiction employ halting, fractured and fragmented prose to express the brokenness of the character and their lives onto the page. Let your own journaling be as broken as it needs to be to give truer expression to whatever block, pain or difficulty you’re grappling with.
Finally, don’t forget to be kind to yourself when journaling about difficult issues – finish up with a comforting cup of camomile tea, listen to some beautiful music, or take a walk in nature or by the sea to integrate whatever came up. Just as therapy is often called the talking cure, I call journaling the writing cure.
Aedamar’s new book Light on Fire: Waking up to Divine Love is available for pre-order on Amazon or through her website www.aedamarkirrane.com/book.
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