The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron is a ” seminal book on the subject of creativity. An international bestseller, millions of readers have found it to be an invaluable guide to living the artist’s life”. One of the major exercises in the book that Julia gets you to do is called “Morning Pages”. This is where you wake up and write out three pages of your stream of consciousness. Just get everything and anything out on paper.
It is a form of meditation. The premise being that after you have emptied your mind of all the details that you are often distracted or consumed by, then you are free to begin to think creatively. This discipline really helps to increase your creative output.
Recently I have been navigating a painful experience in my life. Very dear friends of mine, who were concerned for my wellbeing, kindly made their home on the Gold Coast in Queensland available to me for a week.
Their exact words were, “Get out of here and work your head out”. Lol. So, I tucked myself away in silence and solitude, for a week and created space within the storm to think, process, pray and reflect. A large part of that week was writing out my “Morning Pages”, my stream of consciousness and all of my negative feelings. I recorded my nightmares in my journal, making notes, processing them and them releasing them to God.
By recognising and acknowledging my feelings, good, bad and painful, I was able to then communicate with greater intimacy with God. By getting rid off all the white noise in my head I was able to be still. I created a space to hear from Him and to listen to what He had to say to me. Prayer is simply friendship with God and friendship requires two-way communication. Richard Rohr in his book ‘Simplicity’ says it this way:
“I don’t advise you trying to master your fears. You can’t fix the soul…We have to ask, who is the ‘I” that has these feelings?
But most men and women in the west have never encountered it. Instead they identify with their stream of consciousness, with their feelings… you should not suppress your feelings, you should name them and observe them. But don’t fight them and don’t identify with them.
Teaching this art is teaching contemplative prayer in its first stages”(P 45).
You may be wondering how this relates to prayer. What Richard is suggesting is that prayer is firstly about getting ourselves out-of-the-way. We don’t have to wait for God to come he is already present. But our inner world is often full of worries, fears, ideas, plans, tasks, all clanging and bumping into each other. We need to get these onto paper and out-of-the-way.
“All you can do is become quieter, smaller and less filled with your own self and its flurry of ideas and feelings. Then God will be obvious in the very now of things. It is so simple that it is actually hard to teach”(Rohr, R. 1991 p45).
You may feel that your experience is too personal or confidential to write down in a permanent place. If so then write it out on a sheet of paper and then burn it. Very cathartic. I can’t stress how important it is to release these feelings that we often think are too big, too bad, too hard, too sad, too shameful.
Repress Repress Repress – It catches up with you.
If we continue to suppress and repress our feelings then sooner or later we will blow up. It’s not a pretty sight. When teaching on this I often use the analogy of a foam surfboard that I had as a child. In our backyard pool as kids we would practice standing up on this tiny foam surfboard. It was incredibly buoyant. This trick was to keep the surfboard submerged under the water and balance on top for as long as you could. Obviously the winner was the one who could stay on the longest.
However, inevitably you would lose balance, tip off and the surfboard would rocket up into the air. Suppressed feelings are a lot like that. We can keep them under the surface for so long but eventually we run out of energy and bam….. out it comes in an explosion.
1: My intimacy and relationship with God and others.
2: My creative outflow.
3: My emotional health – peace of mind.
In my journal I write out pages and pages of my worries, prayers, thoughts, fears, hopes, dreams. Sometimes I draw them, or doodle them. I have been known to use black nail polish if I’m really upset, or even black texta. Sometimes I will draw a picture, write down a feeling or make a list. Then I write down the things that I am thankful for.
“As you begin to befriend your inner silence,
one of the first things you will notice is the superficial chatter on the surface level of you mind.
Once you recognise this, the silence deepens.”
( John O’Donohue Anam Cara: P146 )
After I have got ‘ME’ out of the way I go very still and very quiet. I wait. Often a flow of writing just starts as I begin to hear the Spirit of God speaking to me. If I am still distracted I begin to write again, I often start with a letter. Dear Lisa, …….. and then I just begin to write. Let me tell you, if we make time to listen, God actually has a lot to say to us.
Remember, a friendship is two ways, talking and listening. How often do we listen to God?
I have been journalling for about thirty years. It’s faith building to look back over the years and see the progress that has been made. This is a picture of one of my journal pages. You can see that I’ve written out on my journal page, “Looking for a chance to breathe”. Only a week later my girlfriend suggested that I go up the coast and take some time to ‘catch my breath’. This is a simple example of what I have been describing. You may just want to write out your thoughts in bullet points, or do a mind map. Whatever works for you.
Peter says this “Throw all your cares, worries and anxieties on Jesus because He cares for you” 1 Peter 5:7
I would really encourage you to start a journal if you haven’t already. If yours is a bit dusty and unused it’s never too late to pick up a pen or laptop and get started. Take some time for yourself, to unburden, to release and let go of your cares. Give them to someone higher than yourself, He does care for you and He knows that we can’t function properly when we are so consumed with worry and cares. Even 5 min a day will make all the difference.
Let me know how you go. xxx Love Lisa.
The Artist’s Way Starter Kit includes Cameron’s two most important Artist’s Way tools: The Artist’s Way and The Artist’s Way Morning Pages Journal-bound together for a bargain price. This attractive package-shrink-wrapped and with a bellyband-will inspire anyone contemplating beginning the Artist’s Way program to plunge right into this life-changing twelve-week program!
The Artist’s Way Starter Kit
Anam Cara Discover the Celtic Circle of Belonging – this book will captivate you. I can’t put it down. John O’Donohue, poet, philosopher, and scholar, guides you through the spiritual landscape of the Irish imagination. In Anam Cara, Gaelic for “soul friend,” the ancient teachings, stories, and blessings of Celtic wisdom provide such profound insights on the universal themes of friendship, solitude, love, and death as:
- Light is generous
- The human heart is never completely born
- Love as ancient recognition
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