Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Express Your Thoughts and Feelings in Writing

Friends and family can be great listeners, and we take full advantage of their gift to share our troubles and our joys, to work out a particular issue, to discuss options, or to get a hug or a smile of encouragement.

For some hurts, for some emotions, at some times in our lives, sharing verbally does not make the grade. Talking is speedy, impermanent. Spoken words lift into the air like feathers or bullets; most go unattended; some drop like rocks on the people we love. Texting has even more quickness about it, and no time for real depth and introspection.

Writing, on the other hand, is an activity that engages your mind, all your senses, and is physical. Writing is the safest way I know to pour out everything. I've written things, confessed things in my journal that I could not reveal to anyone, even to my psychological counselors.

And that is the first requirement of a writing space...privacy and safety. I know that many people like to journal on their computer or PDA, and that is certainly the way to go if it allows you the privacy to express your deepest emotions.

I truly prefer writing by hand. It's slower, gives you ample time for thought without the blinking cursor pulsing with the message to "Get on with it, why don't you!". And my computer actually hums at a low pitch while it blinks at me. Handwriting is blessedly silent, quiet, unassuming.

Handwriting has a sensual component (sensual meaning that it engages many of your senses). You can choose a pen, or several; choose an ink color; choose a pencil; choose which type or size of paper or journal or notebook you'd like to use. A composition book or writing journal, lined paper or unlined, decorated or not, thick cotton paper or thin onion skin--all add to the experience, the intimacy, the comfort. If you're using a notebook, you can add in articles you've read or pictures that speak to you.

A paper book is very portable and does not rely on a battery or plug. PDA's are portable, too, so it's all about what feels right for you.

Handwriting lends itself to a flow of consciousness style. With handwriting, you're less likely to edit as you go. You just write. Doesn't matter that it's not grammatically correct. It doesn't matter if you curse or rail away at the Fates. The journal is for you. The writing is for you. No one else will read it (unless you want them to).

And my very favorite reason for a paper journal...you can write 24/7. No one else clamoring for the computer. No need to boot up equipment and get sucked into social networking or e-mail. Open the journal or slip out a piece of paper, grab a pen...and write.

My journaling time is usually 3AM. There's something about that hour that wakes me when I'm under stress. The only way to calm my racing thoughts and express my emotions and deepest longings is to journal by hand. The soft light of a candle or one table lamp by my side. Me, curled on the couch or the window seat. Writing everything that flows through my mind until I feel the words slow down and finally stop. When the writing flow finishes, I can sleep.

I return to my late-night writings every so often. They tell me how much I've grown, how far I've come. They remind me that I have survived other crises, revelled in other joys...and so I shall again.

A post from the Productivity 501 blog, Using Different Parts of Your Brain, says that research discovered that different parts of your brain are activated depending on whether you write by hand or on computer. And the difference is more than what can be accounted for by the different motor activities. This finding argues for using both methods to tap into your healing and expressive potential. Thinking of that and my own preferences, I do use computer journaling tools for some sharing and handwriting for others.

But it has been with pen and paper that my most intense inner work and emotional release have occurred.

Privacy, comfort, portability, engaging the senses, reviewing your progress--all of these enhance your journaling experience. But no matter how you choose to express yourself in writing, take time daily. It's a perfect Pause of the Day.

Blessings on your caregiving!

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