Going through a divorce was one of the hardest moments in my life. I was breaking down daily, in front of friends, family, co-workers… it was a mess… I was a mess. Dark thoughts plagued my mind, the kind of thoughts that have the power to destroy, ruin, and kill the soul if left unchecked. Though I have no desire to ‘dig up’ or ‘re-visit’ these thoughts of the past, I will share a process that I used to turn my state around, and pull myself out from my ‘Dark Night of the Soul’.
My mother, one of the individuals witness to my messed up state at that time, introduced a process to me that she discovered while taking an art class in Kelowna known as Morning Pages. Julia Cameron, first coined the process of morning pages in her Best Selling Book ‘The Artists Way.” This process introduced me to a method of free writing, which is essentially writing without thought.
This process is rather simple, however it does take discipline and commitment to the daily routine to see the benefit and changes it can bring to your life. Everyday upon waking you begin to write non-stop, until you have either written three pages, or 20 minutes of time has passed. The trick is the ‘not stopping’ part. Essentially there is no break during the process, you just keep pen moving to paper with no cares or worries of what is produced. To give an example of free writing I am going to free write the next paragraph here.
So I am writing this blog here in Waterton and I am here visiting family and it is great because I haven’t seen a number of them for a while. Last night I went for a walk with my brother and we saw a number of big horn sheep and then an RCMP stopped and we thought it was unusual, and there was flashes coming from their vehicle, so I imagine they were taking pictures, we may have been a bit intoxicated and I was enjoying a Cuban cigar on the walk. We continued down walking on the sidewalk noticing random people at times in the distance and it is May Long weekend so I imagine a number of people are out, and I am looking forward to the rest of the weekend…
Notice how this paragraph above is not written well, you will find spelling, punctuation, and grammatical errors throughout (ex: ‘was flashes’ should read ‘were flashes’). The flow is rather choppy, and that is the point! You just sit down and write, write without giving any thought towards what you are writing.
What happens when you begin to do this is amazing. You will begin to take the constant mind chatter and release it onto the page. Prior to beginning the process of morning pages I would experience thoughts, over and over, that would continually spin around in my head like an endless loop. The process of morning pages allowed me to take all those messy thoughts, write them down, and release them from my mind. Without the constant cycle of ‘messy thoughts’ spinning around, clarity began to occur. Awareness heightened, as I became present with the ‘here and now’ and started to live a lot less in my head.
Often these messy thoughts deal with memories of the past, or imaginations of the future, neither of which reflect the present reality. When I began this process at that low point in my life, many of the thoughts that appeared on the pages I wrote were very dark, and often scary. The difference is that once they were on paper, they no longer remained trapped inside my head. I no longer had to be plagued by them throughout the rest of my day. This process allowed me to take all the shit in my mind, the entire mess, and throw it onto the page. Once I am done, I put down my pen, close the book for the day, and live my life.
This sounds simple, and it is, but certainly not easy. For instance it requires me to wake up 20 minutes earlier every day to complete. However, the amount of time I get back in ‘mental freedom’ is far greater. Morning pages have helped me relieve large amounts of anxiety and stress that I formerly dealt with on a daily basis. If you choose to write Morning pages, they are for you, and you alone, and not to be shared with anyone. After you begin to release your messy thoughts you will soon find that ‘new’ creative thoughts will emerge in their place. Life begins to become a little bit clearer, a little bit brighter, a little bit more beautiful, each and every day. Believe me, I know what it is like to be plagued by the dark, I have been there once, and I am not going back.
– Wes Paterson