Tag Archives: healing

journaling – what works for you?

today, please visit marie at coming out of the trees.    about her blog she says

i’m passing along a collection of excerpts from my personal and therapy journals to whomever needs to read them. i’m sharing my story so that those of you who are on a similar journey can know that you aren’t the only one – and so you can know that there is a way through. it is my intention to tell my story with both authenticity and dignity.

the title of my blog comes from a phrase i penned in the fall of 2007:

“i feel like i am walking through a thick forest and i don’t know where i’m heading, i only know to follow the compass. i believe someday i will come out of the trees and into a clearing. i believe that, when i enter the clearing, i will finally know my primary life’s calling. until then, i have to walk in faith.”

marie gave me the great honour to comment on one of her journal entries what works for you?.  in that entry, she talks about her relationship with god; i concentrate mostly on the journal writing process – a topic, as you may know, that interests me quite a bit – see journaling for healing, creative writing: waking up from our routines,
women, therapy and blogging, journaling: a dialogue or blogging yourself home.

soul music from a piano’s underbelly

soft, these sounds
steal again into my heart.
how’d he do it?
he played on the piano
like he knew all about our souls.

this is a little tanka – a short japanese poem – i wrote after listening to the CD of the wonderful sounds craig addy created when my friend and soulmate haedy were lying under the piano.

yes, under the piano.

one day, craig was kissed by his muse and he set out to design a little world under his baby grand. satiny cushions, soft blankets and inspiring colours created a womb of wonder under a firmament of melody and gentle rhythm that craig carried into our minds, hearts and bodies through the wood and metal of the piano’s underbelly. “touch the piano,” craig encouraged us, “you’ll experience the sound in a completely new way.” and we did, and it was true. the music came to us from everywhere – our fingertips, our backs that touched the vibrating floor, the air, our souls.

our souls – that was the deepest part. “how’d he do it?” i said in the tanka. i don’t know. does he know? maybe he’ll tell us. we had a very short conversation beforehand, nothing particularly personal. craig knows me a little; he didn’t know haedy. but then he sat down on the piano and he captured – i don’t know what. even the word essence doesn’t get to the heart of it. he captured who haedy was, who i was, he captured our relationship, our story, where we were at the moment, where we had been, where we might go. we lay there, held hands, listened, and cried. we were transported yet we were intensely there. haedy, who has stage four cancer and is in constant pain, was released from her aches for a while. i had intense memories of lying under my grandparents’ piano. craig, letting his hands go where they would, played music that nurtured us and understood and held us.

craig recorded the music and we were able to purchase the CD afterwards. it is my favourite CD right now. would you like to listen to some of it? go here to craig’s blog and let yourself be transported …

blogging yourself home – the books

for the blogging yourself home workshop at MentalHealthCamp, i had referred to a number of books in addition to leon tan’s fabulous article on MySpace and blogging as a form of self therapy.

here they are:

writing from the heart – tapping the power of your inner voice, by nancy slonim aronie

love the friendly, welcoming, comfortable tone of this book. an excerpt from one of the many writing exercises she proposes:

which story in your life do you want to feel on a new level? write a story that begins with “the last time i saw …” write only the first page and leave it. go back later, and don’t censor anything. begin adding to it. be gentle with yourself. no one has to read this but you. each day for two weeks, add to the story. keep everything you write. don’t throw away any of it. save everything; you’ll need it for later. you may need distance to hear some of your best lines. keep writing from your heart. keep coming back to “i”.

writing from the inside out by dennis palumbo

from the jacket:

writer’s block. procrastination. loneloness. doubt. fear of failure. fear of rejection. just plain … fear. what does it mean if you struggle with these feelins on a daily basis? it means you’re a writer.

one of the treats of reading these books is that they are – guess what, well written. often they have intriguing chapter headings, like this one in palumbo’s book: “lately, i don’t like the things i love.” doesn’t that resonate?

with pen in hand – the healing power of writing, by henriette anne klauser

this book is written around klauser’s client’s stories, which really speaks to me. there is very little, “do this, do that” – she simply presents powerful, powerful stories and then comments on how they use simple yet impactful writing techniques. a story that touched me in a special way was by a vietnam vet who after years tells for the first time the tale of surviving the war and coming back to an unwelcoming home country.

i could tell you stories – sojourns in the land of memory, by patricia hampl

one of the things that this book did for me was to show me st. augustine’s confessions, written in 397 C.E., in a totally new way. “he was the first blogger!” i kept thinking. he describes himself as “a man who writes as he progresses and who progresses as he writes”. hampl goes on

not to write was not to think, really not to live.

the confessions are, among other things, the desperature gesture of a writer blocked from his work, seeking again the intimace embraceand healing intelligence of language.

here was a book, most likely written by hand in private, but intended to be read aloud y small groups of educated christians (and open-minded erudite pagans), a book handed around in a kind of samizdat circulation. it was greeted by the intense, if rarefied, buzz we might recogniaze from a coffeehouse poetry reading where aficionados know an original voice if they hear one.

finally three more books i referred to were ones that i had already mentioned here before. they were louise desalvo’s writing as a way of healing and james pennebaker’s opening up – the healing power of expressing emotions, mentioned in the post journaling for healing: 15 tips. james pennebaker is one of the leading psychologists writing on and researching the topic.

and then of course there is kimberley snow, whose book “writing yourself home” inspired the title of the workshop. i had written about the book here.

why we write

beautiful trees and watermy little workshop for MentalHealthCamp, “blogging yourself home” about blogging, writing, creativity and mental health had me think hard about the connection between these topics in the last week or so. i was deligthed, then, to come across alison, who blogs (and teaches) about writing about mental health. in this post, she asks why do you write?

here are my answers.

i write because

  • i can’t imagine not writing
  • the sensuality of it: the physical feeling of pen on paper and fingertips on keyboard; the sound of tap-tap-tap and scratch-scratch-scratch; the sight of paper, the look of a blog post
  • my brain is always full of stuff (pete would offer a reason why) and its good to get at least some part of it out
  • when i do specific writing-for-healing, i KNOW it helps me
  • it connects me with others
  • it looks like others get something from it, sometimes
  • letters are yummy, words are yummy, sentences are yummy, grammar is yummy, language is yummy
  • sometimes i manage to create something beautiful
  • text is an integral part of my upbringing and it makes me feel part of our culture
  • did i say i can’t imagine not writing?

in the same post, alison also says that she is

opposed to writing for healing that doesn’t attend to craft. part of it is because that sort of writing turns inward away from the larger world and the political dimension is so important to me.

i find that an interesting and challenging statement, and would like to hear more about it. perhaps alison will comment.

as i am reflecting on this, i can’t quite see how writing that does not attend to craft (i presume alison means style, narrative flow, sentence structure, etc.) necessarily turns away from the larger world. perhaps alison is referring to navel-gazing content and style? even if that is the case – aren’t there lots of navel-gazers out in the blogosphere, and don’t they somehow have a community?

or – maybe that’s it: when writing is not well-crafted, it will have a lesser chance of being taken seriously, and that decreases any political impact it may have.

what do you think?

oh, and if you write, dear reader, why do YOU write?

image by floato

heroes of healing: thich nhat hanh

this is my contribution to jennifer mannion’s heroes of healing project. it’s a project where bloggers write about people who put helping others ahead of whatever might come in the way. the people on this list have gone against the norm and had to put mainstream thinking aside to get their message across. they have all faced criticism, some of them persecution but it did not stop them from pursuing their important work because they knew they were helping many in the process.

my contribution is about thich nhat hanh.

zen monk thich nhat hanh

thich nhat hanh, a zen master and human rights activist, was born in vietnam in 1926. he became a monk at 16. in the throes of the vietnam war, he chose to combine contemplation and activism, thus helping in founding the movement of “engaged buddhism”. among other things, and despite opposition on the part of the vietnamese government, thich nhat hanh founded a buddhist university, a publishing house, and an influential peace activist magazine in vietnam. after visiting the U.S. and europe in 1966 on a peace mission, he was banned from returning to vietnam. he may have changed the course of U.S. history when he persuaded martin luther king, jr. to oppose the vietnam war publicly. later, thich nhat hanh led the buddhist delegation to the paris peace talks.

in 1982 he founded plum village, a buddhist community in exile in france, where he continues his work to alleviate suffering of refugees, boat people, political prisoners, and hungry families in vietnam and throughout the third world. in september 2001, shortly after the world trade center attacks, thich nhat hanh addressed the issues of non-violence and forgiveness in a memorable speech.

thich nhat hanh has published over 80 titles of poems, prose, and prayers. one of my favourites is the miracle of mindfulness.

through mindfulness, we can learn to live in the present moment instead of in the past and in the future. dwelling in the present moment is the only way to truly develop peace, both in one’s self and in the world.

this is the central teaching of thich nhat hanh.

a video
this is part of a series of interviews with ram dass:what have i learned from thich nhat hanh?
i have learned so much from him. “the miracle of mindfulness” was the first buddhist book i ever bought. one of the things he talks about there is bringing mindfulness to washing the dishes. the image of lovingly washing a cup, with full attention, being aware of all that happens, has been one of my mental metaphors for zen buddhism ever since.

breathing in, the sensation of the cup’s shape and texture. breathing out, the light glinting off the running water. breathing in, the sounds of the dishes clinking against the sink. breathing out, the warmth of the water, juxtaposed against the air that feels cold on the exposed wet skin. breathing in, the smell of the dish soap. breathing out, compassion for my straying thoughts.


image by pixiduc

(this post appeared in the amazing visions blog carnival)

carnival of healing #143

a herb gardenit’s been a year since i last hosted a carnival of healing, so it’s great to come back to this. as usual, there were many submissions. so this is a rather long post. i’ve categorized them to make it a bit easier to read.

personal development and spirituality
spiritual healing: 50+ podcasts to find wellness within: what a large connection of podcasts! as you can imagine, i immediately went to the buddhist section but unfortunately couldn’t find anything there that either appealed to me or that worked with my tired old laptop. but then i looked at the other links and went to susan gregg’s podcast and listened to episode 27, and that really spoke to me. technically well done, no long-winded introductions, a pleasant voice – and intelligence! she talks about toltec wisdom there, about domination, right vs. wrong, judgment, resistance – interesting topics! she also mentions one of my favourite stories, the story of the two hungry wolves. which wolf do you want to feed? the one who feeds on desperation and envy or the one who feeds on love and generosity?

shirley from fun spirit offers 10 great ways to do absolutely nothing. yup, that’s the kind of stuff i like, for example:

get rid of your to-do list, your never-ending chores, and say no to today’s social events. dispose of the “have-to’s” and give yourself permission to enjoy the process. take a deep breath and smile.

next, my blogging friend astrid, who also lives in our beautiful city of vancouver asks
is there a latent talent you wish to use, .. some day ?

is there something else that you’d rather do, but you doubt whether you could make any money with it, or even: whether you would be ‘good enough’ for it? today, i want to encourage you to consider letting the world know what you actually do

chris edgar, on his post transcending your boundaries contributes this:

i believe many of our fears stem from a misperception of ourselves as small and weak. we see ourselves as too fragile to deal with possible setbacks in our jobs, confrontations in our relationships, and so on. in my experience, one way to overcome this sense of frailty is to feel, on a physical level, the fact that you are much greater and stronger than you may think you are. in fact, as the exercise i’ll describe helps you see, in your essence you have no boundaries, and no problem arising in your life can truly harm you.

avani-mehta has this take on motivation

can you really afford to leave it to motivation? do you have the luxury to leave what you want to chance? is what you want so trivial for you that you are in a way telling yourself – “let’s see … if i get motivated enough, i will work on this. and hopefully get what i want”.fact is, if you want something, then you simply have to go for it and work for it. like it or not. are motivated or not. nothing really matters. because truth is, you really don’t have a choice. you want something, you have to take actions which lead you to that. we make a mistake of seeing choices when there are none.

finally, praveen gifts us with one of his lovely little tidbits: peanuts zen: linus explains resetting to charlie brown.

holistic health
once more, the nursing people have gathered a huge amount of resources, this time on holistic health, for example an interesting article on therapeutic landscaping

interestingly, a novel, but strong selling points for healing gardens is that they help hospitals attract and keep nurses. there is a serious nursing shortage in north america. roger ulrich has reported on studies showing reduced staff turnover in hospitals with healing gardens.

william peeters informs us about a study that seems to discredit herbal remedies

it is very common that studies done on natural medicine seem to be designed with an end result in mind, which shows herbs and nutrients in a negative light. more often than not you will find a study designed using very low dosages of a nutrient, a synthetic form of a nutrient, using the incorrect part of a herb (e.g. the flowers when the root is the part that contains active ingredients), or as in this study, a completely inactive form of the herb was used.

similarly, on brainblogger, some thoughts on research on the mind-body connection

have you ever tried to find proof that mind-body treatments work? there are far too many articles that end like this: “more trials are needed,” or “future research… must be more rigorous in the design and execution of studies and in the analysis and reporting of results;” is there any real proof at all?

beth at the virtual teahouse talks about … callie ann’s scalp:

callie, while she encounters stressful situations in her life, basically carries none of that stress with her. and is that why she’s so loving? or is the reason that she has no stress because she is so loving? i have no real insight into this…other than that, for the most part, callie takes each day as it comes, looks forward to it and finds reasons to laugh and be mischievous all the time. i like being around her!

more contributions on the topic of stress are

anna from widow’s quest has a lovely little post on the blogging community around us: world’s apart, world’s together

blogging and indeed having all your wonderful comments, really shows me that no matter what culture, how the grief has occurred – the feeling of loss is the same worldwide. blogging has been a great comfort to me to know that i am not alone, that i am not daft because at times i haven’t coped very well.

chandra unplugged’s post about communication talks about a different topic

there is nothing worse than hearing the same old story over and over again, and yet most of us have no trouble repeating our story. for some reason, we think our tale of woe is different and proceed to share the intimate details with all who will listen. we are oblivious to the blank stares and veiled yawns, and talk long after all interest has waned.

and also …
i’d also like to thank the bloggers who submitted these posts:

if you haven’t had a chance yet to read last week’s carnival, it was at libido and health. next week’s carnival will be at chinese medicine notes. if you have an article you’d like to submit, please use this form!

(image of herb garden by by JL2003)

share your story

journallinghave you experienced recovery and healing in your life? goodtherapy, a great new resource for people who believe in affirmative therapy, therapy that is non-pathologizing, empowering, collaborative is starting a healing story collection. if you have something to share, go here.

the first contribution you’ll find starts like this:

once upon a time there was a wonderful little girl, sensitive, intelligent, gifted. she was so sensitive that it was easy for her to see words that weren’t spoken. words that other people did not speak swirled through the air but ended up inside of her.

when she was not very old, and couldn’t even describe it with words, she noticed that there was a shadow on her father.

when she grew old enough to express the feelings (though only in her own quiet little mind), these were her words: “i am not sure that my father loves me. sometimes he seems to love me. but i’m not sure that he really loves me. he is so far away. his eyes are heavy and sometimes when he looks at me it’s as if he doesn’t even see me, or he sees me from a long distance. i think his smile looks so watered down because it has to travel so far to come from him to me.”

for the rest, read on at little lil – a story about trying to be perfect