Here are some helpful guidelines for a Mindful Writing practice that I have adapted from various writing methods and used successfully in my work with individuals and groups:
- Find a quiet space to write where you will not be disturbed or distracted for at least thirty minutes.
- Bring your favorite writing implements and your journal or some blank paper.
- Music may enhance the meditative experience. The slower movements of Baroque music have been shown to have a calming effect on the body and shift people’s brain waves into a non-ordinary state of awareness as in other forms of meditation practice. If music distracts you try writing without it. If you are writing to music turn the music on.
- Begin to write. Listen to your thoughts and put them on the paper.
- Remember this is a free write, so there is no need to be concerned about writing complete sentences, or punctuation, spelling, or editing. Simply write whatever you hear in your mind.
- As you write, you may notice certain themes arise, or memories, feelings, images, and pieces of your personal narrative. Whenever something arises that feels important to you stay with that for awhile and explore it as a child explores through play.
- Pay attention to sensations in the body. These sensations may be clues that suggest images or feelings associated with the narrative themes. Explore these body expressions and the thoughts connected with them. Write down those thoughts.
- Write for a pre-determined period of time, then stop, even if you are not finished. This creates a safe container within which we can hold a particular focus. If you are listening to a cassette tape. Write until the music stops. One side of a tape usually runs for twenty to twenty five minutes. If you are writing without music, set your wrist watch or a timer for the amount of time you would like to write. You may find that it is easier to begin with short intervals and extend the time as you develop your practice.
- After you complete your “mindful write” read it back to yourself aloud. This is a way to witness yourself and hear your story again. Every time we tell or hear a story, we gather new meanings from it.
- As you read your “mindful write” again, you may also want to use a highlighter and underline words, phrases, or images that have potency or resonate with feeling or elicit a strong visceral reaction. Use these images as prompts for your next “mindful write”.
© Patricia A. Burke 2004 All rights reserved.