Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Healing Power of Words

Last weekend, I had a chance to attend a 3-day interactive experience at The Chopra Center in southern California called Healing the Heart. Chopra Center co-founder David Simon, MD led about 130 of us through a deep process in which we explored our emotional constraints. Integrating the ancient wisdom of Ayurveda with modern psychological principles, we identified, mobilized and released the pain in our hearts, and replaced it with emotional freedom and an expanded capacity to forgive, heal and believe in love once again.

The first full day of the course was intense. Many of us ended that day feeling spent and unresolved. Stories were shared. Tears were shed. Wounds were exposed. “You’ll feel worse before you feel better,” David cautioned us, “because you’re calling your ‘stuff’ out of its hiding place.” He likened it to what happens when cleaning a fish tank—the bottom gunk gets stirred up. Everything looks murkier. The fish thrash around, confused. But eventually, things settle into a renewed clarity—which they did by our final day of the course.

Part of what made this process so effective was journaling our thoughts. David gently glided us into the writing process by way of meditation, music and reading soul-stirring poetry from 14th Century Sufi master Hafiz. As we each found our still point, David instructed us to keep our pens moving until he said “stop”. What came out of me and onto the page was my own internal jagged poetry about my present life—expressions of disbelief, grief, acceptance and surrender. Writing is what moved me, by day three, into the light of self-understanding. My own words freed and healed me.

So when you’re feeling conflicted and murky, stir things up even more by grabbing a pen and going further into that space. Do as Hafiz advises:

Your loneliness so quickly.
Let it cut more
Let it ferment and season you
As few human
Or even divine ingredients can.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

The Lyrical Reality

I've got to say, there's nothing like music and lyrics to add a shimmer of inspiration to one's writing day. Lucky for me, my teen-age son is an iTunes afficionado, so I've got an impressive playlist on my Mac that I can tap my foot to while I work. My words become melodious. And sometimes, the lyrics so move me that I have to stop what I'm doing, go to a site like or and read each verse. A well turned phrase can get me "high on intellectualism" (Sheryl Crow) or spur me to "celebrate the malleable reality" (Jason Mraz). So, it's all in a day's work...but I've heard it sung that a Working Class Hero is something to be . . . (uh, John Lennon).