Perhaps the most beneficial practice in my repertoire came from a book I read many years ago, The Artist’s Way. In the book the author, Julia Cameron, described a practice called The Morning Pages that I have more or less continued ever since.
The basic idea is to write three hand written pages of stream of consciousness first thing in the morning. Three pages, regardless and heedless of quality; just get whatever is in your head onto the page.
By doing this day after day I made a few discoveries.
- First it gave me some separation from myself, and enabled me to see myself from another perspective.
- Second, if I wrote just as fast possible without thinking or critiquing, something interesting would come to the surface.
- Third, if I continued to write past the first and second page, my unconscious mind would seem to vomit something up on the third page that might be particularly telling.
By interesting I don’t mean interesting to the world in general, but to me in particular. Something about that process would reveal me to myself; enabled me to face, and eventually embrace, my shadow self.
I have found this to be a very powerful thing. It is hard to look into the eyes of our shadow, or to even admit it is there. But to see it, to accept it, and to understand the desire or fear it represents is transformative.
Moreover hopes and dreams are expressed we might otherwise dismiss as unrealistic, or impossible. How we interact with others, but especially how we feel about others and ourselves is revealed through these morning pages.
And it’s cathartic. It seems to still the voice of the inner critic, and purge oneself of negative thoughts.