The “times” always seem tumultuous. Has there ever been a time in history that hasn’t been laden with some sort of strife, challenge or just plain yucky feelings? This is simply life and the goal is to clear as many of the cobwebs out of your view as possible to make the most of what you’ve got. We do yoga, we read books, we meditate and get acupuncture and we do it all to reset our minds in order to see the world as it is and with as little of our “filter” that we’ve built up over the years as possible. These are all viable options to achieve this end, but if I may, I’d like to make a suggestion that’s worked for me over the years: Morning Pages.
Any fan of Julie Cameron’s The Artists Way or Vein of Gold will already know what I’m talking about (and if you do, then stop reading and go write), but for those of you who have never experienced the power of Morning Pages, read on!
Morning Pages are three, handwritten pages that you create as soon as you wake up in the morning (yes, before your morning coffee) and as such should be done daily. The goal is to write three pages and keep the writing utensil moving across the page for those three pages. What you write doesn’t matter, but most of the time it will be the garbage that has built up over the previous days and that “little voice” that is always telling you how you can’t do it, whatever it is. Oh yeah, and once you write the three pages, put them away and never look at them again. At least for 8 weeks, Ms. Cameron suggests. This is not a journal; it’s an exercise in clearing the mind. The best analogy I can apply to the process is that it’s a way to weed the garden that exists in your mind. Clear the cobwebs. Don’t have anything to write? Write, “I don’t have anything to write” for three pages.
You may be saying to yourself, “I’m not a writer” or “I’m not even an artist”, but the beauty of this exercise is that you don’t need to be either and it still works. It helps clear creative blocks (that little voice again) for everyone from writers and musicians to painters, dancers and even the entrepreneur or business person in general. It clears the mind and allows access to unfettered decision making and more creative solutions to problems. In fact, problems seem more like challenges in this newly swept and mopped mind.
In this age of technology, why not just type them into your favorite word-processing program and save them for generations to come? Morning Pages are to be done by hand for two reasons: the content is, ideally, not to be revisited and writing by hand slows down the mind. Remember, the words on this page are really in the spirit of “writing for the garbage can”; old, dirty cobwebs and crumbs that clog the filter. Also, the point is to slow down the mind – I don’t know anyone who can write by hand as fast as they type. I am sure some people can but only because they can’t type fast. I liken this process to cryogenically freezing metals. Cryogenic freezing brings down the temperature of the metal down so low that the molecules actually stop and realign themselves in perfect order to operate at maximum efficiency. This is what you’re doing with the mind. As well as cleaning it, you’re slowing it down rearranging the “thought molecules” for optimum performance.
Morning Pages, as the name implies, should be done in the morning: first thing even before the morning cup of coffee, tea or secha. The reason for this is twofold: to access that deep unconscious mind and to set the stage for the day. The mind just after sleep is still “open”, so to speak, to the part mind where that little voice resides as well as fears, dreams, hopes and whatnot. During the day, the door to the mind becomes closed to intruders only to be opened again the next morning. It’s this area, the closet if you will, we want to clean out. We want to open that door and allow the deluge of mental boxes, basketballs and old hockey equipment fall out onto our heads – the page is the Salvation Army and the fodder from the top shelf is our donation. We also do these pages in the morning because we want to set the stage for our day. We want to leave the house with a clear view of “things”, for lack of a better word, and not wearing our “filter”. As such, we are able to make decisions while understanding situations as they really are and not as we’ve perceived them or attributing our own meaning.
I can say with clarity (because I did my Morning Pages this morning) that I have a love/hate relationship with this exercise in that I love the benefits I reap and loath actually performing the exercise; however, this is the nature of any exercise in general and it seems that at the times when it’s extremely difficult to get it done is also the time it’s needed the most. For me, Morning Pages (and this can be attested to by my wife) make me more “smart-witted” and quicker on my verbal and written feet. As well, I pull solutions, really great solutions, seemingly from thin air as well as carrying an overall feeling of wellness and happiness.
If you’re interested in finding out more about Morning Pages, head over to the library and pick up either of Julie Cameron’s books (The Artist’s Way or Vein of Gold) and get reading! Better yet: get writing!