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August 24, 2018

The Mindfulness Practice that can Transform our Self-Awareness.

Mindfulness is something we could all use more of in our daily lives.

Amidst the hustle and bustle of busy schedules, sometimes we forget that we need to come back and check in with ourselves. We allow ourselves to get caught in the net of thoughts and worries, and we lose awareness.

By paying attention to thoughts, feelings, and sensations that come up, we can develop consciousness and self-awareness, which encourages personal growth and inner peace.

Writing can help us in our consciousness journeys. When we know ourselves, we don’t need to be helplessly pulled into reacting to whatever happens.

Studies show that writing therapy can improve both mental and physical health, and can help develop empathy and perspective. While regular reading has also been shown to improve health, writing is a pathway by which we can know ourselves better. With only a pen and a notepad, it is possible to reach into our inner processes to explore and discover. Our therapist may be asleep when we need them, or our best friend might be busy—but we will always have writing therapy to turn to.

There are different methods of writing therapy. Feel free to pick and choose whichever you find to be the most beneficial.

 

Freewriting

Get comfortable, and start writing down whatever comes to mind. Whether you decide to write about how you are feeling in the moment or about something that you just cannot shake out of your thoughts, let yourself be free to say anything you want. Your inner censor has no place here. Freewriting can help generate creative ideas to be used later.

When you read what you wrote, you may learn something about yourself or discover some interesting insights. Simply giving yourself the time and space to write freely is an act of self-nurturing.

If you prefer, you can use use writing prompts to get into the flow.

 

Expressive Writing

Living a spiritual life includes dealing with issues straight on. This includes negative feelings and trauma we are harbouring. If a trauma is quite recent and still raw, it may be too soon to use expressive writing to work through it.

Expressive writing involves writing about our thoughts and feelings surrounding a traumatic experience. You may write for as little as 5 minutes, or as long as 20 minutes. Writing down things that are upsetting will help stop the nasty cycle of strength-sucking rumination.

The key to expressive writing is that people must find meaning in the traumatic memories and allow themselves to feel all the associated emotions, which may initially be uncomfortable. However, benefits to this inner work include: 

>> Reduction in resting blood pressure levels.
>> Improved mobility and reduced pain in rheumatoid arthritis patients.

>> Reduction in anxiety and depression symptoms among patients with maladaptive rumination.
>> Reduction in depression symptoms, trauma-related cognitions, and behavioral problems in children with post-traumatic stress disorder.
>> Decrease in disease symptoms and improvement in cognition in irritable bowel syndrome patients with longer-term disease.
>> Reduced health care visits and physical symptoms in patients with colorectal, breast, or prostate cancer.
>> Improvements in lung function in adult asthma patients.
>> Immune functioning was found to be boosted with expressive writing. HIV/AIDS patients who wrote about negative life experiences produced higher CD4 lymphocyte counts.
>> In another study, people who wrote about traumatic experiences before receiving the hepatitis B vaccine had a stronger immune response, producing more antibodies. 

 

Reflective Journaling

Keeping a reflective journal can be valuable if you want to lead a conscious life.

In your reflective diary or journal, write down your positive or negative experiences, any associated thoughts, and what you learned from them. You may write down what happened during the day and your associated ideas and perspectives. Do you notice any recurring thoughts or patterns of behavior?

For example, if you notice that you are often unsure of yourself, write down the surrounding circumstances each time you feel this way and what your thought processes are. Write down things of interest as soon as possible, so you don’t forget the details. Make it a habit to write regular entries.

Bring your reflective journal to your yoga or meditation class and see if it helps you improve. Studies show that academic classes that involve reflective journaling yield positive results, such as the development of cultural humility.

 

Poetry Writing

We can take our life experiences, in all of their colours, edges, joy, and pain, and turn them into poetry. With poetry, we can transform our inner thoughts and feelings through the lens of symbolism, metaphor, and philosophy.

For instance, palliative care patients have been able to use poetry to find meaning and perspective in cases of “serious illnesses and losses toward the end of life.” Troubling experiences are given a creative outlet, which can help us to see things in a different way.

 

Letter Writing

Relationships can be complicated. You may have something you haven’t expressed toward someone. Perhaps someone has wronged you and you need to tell them how they affected your life. Or maybe you never told someone that you love them or how much they mean to you. It may be quite a burden to carry if you never had the opportunity to express yourself. The person you need to address may not still be around.

In your letter, write down everything you need to say. Write down how they made you feel and how your life was impacted by this person. You may write freely or write it like a more conventional letter. When you are done, read it over. What you do with your letter afterward is up to you.

 

Writing can be a way of knowing ourselves better, and writing therapy can easily be integrated into daily spiritual practice. By understanding ourselves, we can take care of ourselves better. We develop more empathy and compassion toward ourselves and other living beings.

If everyone takes the initiative to develop consciousness, the world will become a kinder, cleaner, and healthier place to live in.

author: Sierra Delarosa

Image: Gift Habeshaw/Unsplash

Editor: Kelsey Michal

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Sierra Delarosa

Sierra Delarosa is a writer and musician. She has a MSc in experimental medicine and a BSc in biochemistry (McGill University). Her interests include science, music, and spirituality.