The write way through

Have you ever found yourself struggling to make a decision or solve a problem? Perhaps you ask friends for advice and then feel frustrated when they can’t seem to see things from your perspective. Or maybe you write a list of pros and cons, but still can’t come to a conclusion. Conversely, it may be that you’ve experienced making a decision suddenly and without logical thinking, simply with a gut feeling that what you’re doing is right. In this instance, you may not understand the “why” of your choice, but just feel drawn to go in a certain direction.

Writing is one way you can bypass rational thinking and reconnect with your body and its inner wisdom to find answers to life’s issues and problems. Try these exercises to get started…

Freewriting

Freewriting is a simple technique where you write down whatever comes to mind. Take a blank page, and pen, and just start writing. Natalie Goldberg, a writing teacher whose books include Writing Down the Bones and Wild Mind, tells writers not to worry about punctuation or grammar, but instead keep their hand moving without thinking too much. She says that if something ‘feels scary, dive right in’, so you don’t censor yourself but rather open up to listen to your thoughts without judgement. This switches off the conscious editing mind and allows your creative, intuitive self to flow freely onto the page. When you do this, you may find that the problems and issues you face in your life spill out onto the paper. When you open up a space for the mind to freely express itself, it tends to move towards bringing up the dificult stuff in an attempt to find healing and resolution. As you write, you may find that insights, ideas and solutions pop into your head – that’s your inner wisdom speaking. If you find this isn’t happening, try dropping into your body, notice how your body feels. Be aware of your breathing. When you connect with your body this helps to turn off the analytical mind so intuition can speak.

Freewriting is a great way to warm up before moving on to the next exercises, or to practise every day so you develop an ongoing relationship with your subconscious. Julia Cameron, author of books including The Artist’s Way, recommends that people do ‘morning pages’, three pages of freewriting first thing when they wake up, while they’re still fuzzy from their dreams and before the conscious mind begins to take over.

Write to your emotions

Write a letter to an emotion that’s bothering you with a caring, nurturing tone. For example, if you were to write about your fear before a visit to the dentist, you might say: ‘Dear Fear, what do you need to feel safe?’ Then the answer pops into your mind to remember to breathe to calm your nervous system. If you were feeling lonely you might ask: ‘Dear Loneliness, how can I let you go? Who should I meet to help you?’ and then find an acquaintance’s name pops into your head, one who you’d meant to organise coffee with but had forgotten to send them a text.

Ask questions

If you want answers, ask questions. If you’re wondering what’s the best step to help improve your health or deal with an issue in a relationship, then ask – an answer will almost always pop into your head. It could be something you know but often forget, for example: ‘make a green smoothie every morning’ or ‘spend quality time with my partner’. In this case, the writing helps to focus you and reminds you how best to live your life. It could be the answer takes you by surprise, offering a new perspective on an old problem. It’s rare that your subconscious leaves a question unanswered. Lucia Capacchione, author of Recovery of Your Inner Child, recommends asking a question with your dominant hand and then switching to your non-dominant hand to write the answer. Try it and gain a new perspective.

This article was originally published in Issue 14 – Embrace the Positive