Writing as Healing
“Writing was the healing place where I could collect bits and pieces, where I could put them together again… written words change us all and make us more than we could ever be without them.”
bell hooks, Black feminist writer & educator (1952-2021)
All of us have found our personal and social worlds destabilized and dramatically rearranged in response to these tumultuous times.
One of the most significant changes for me has been moving with my husband from the charming loft on the farm which was our cherished home for 14 years, to a quirky new house in an unfamiliar neighbourhood. I experienced a ton of terror in the move, as well as grief and resistance. To cope, I devoted much time to two practices that have supported me over the years: creativity and meditation.
“I wrote my way onto the farm,” I said to my husband, ‘ I will write my way off.”
I also danced, sang, made collage after collage, and reread my arts-based PhD thesis, whose poems, narratives and photographs documented the wonder and magic of living on the farm while articulating the philosophy of Loving Inquiry, which is practiced by walking through metaphorical gates named after beautiful qualities of attention and engagement which foster loving relationship.
Immersing myself in the healing and heart opening practices of insight and metta meditation, I met regularly with my Buddhist sangha, both virtually and in person, listened to lots (and lots) of dharma talks and participated in several online retreats and two intensive three-month meditation trainings.
All of this, plus the caring presence of dear friends in my community, and counsellors who listened with compassionate understanding, supported me to bravely and tenderly make my way through this difficult transition.
Now that I am happily settled in this new place, which I have discovered is also full of magic and wonder (I will share more about this discovery in my next newsletter), I am taking time to reflect on the year and acknowledge the challenges I’ve met and the nourishing creative and meditative practices, and people, that helped me to overcome them.
I do this in my journal by asking myself some questions and putting the pen to the page in response. I don’t worry about how it sounds, just that I get the words down. Words have a way of allowing me to tell what I need to tell, and feel what I need to feel. As I encouraged a group of my students recently,
“Write what you need to write, so you can right what you need to right!”
Wishing you some peace and ease in this time of great upheaval and uncertainty. May the light of this spring bring some much-needed health and happiness to our struggling planet.