by Diana Raab, Ph.D.
Becoming self-aware is a key ingredient for undertaking any form of personal writing, whether your genre of choice is journaling, memoir, essay, poetry or memoir. Being self-aware leads to a deeper knowing, and ultimately, to self-realization which in turn results in a sense of wholeness and quite possibly, is the key to happiness.
Transpersonal psychology is the newest branch of psychology. It encompasses all the other branches, such as psychoanalytic, Jungian, behaviorism and humanistic. Its focus is to bring out the best in human potential by accessing the spiritual. Writing is considered a transpersonal practice because it does access our spiritual side and personal writing is a good way to do this. In order to do the best writing, we need to become self-aware so that writing leads to discoveries about ourselves.
There are many ways to become self-aware before and during the writing journey. They include:
1 – Setting Intentions. An intention is like a mindset, something you want for yourself. Think of an intention as a seed for your day to pay attention to and nourish. Think of an intention as daily om or mantra, like the one you set at the beginning of the workshop. It is what you hope to get out of today. You can go online to get some ideas for setting intentions. You can also subscribe to intentions made by others for you, such as the ones provided by Daily Om. These intentions are connected to your zodiac sign. It arrives in your email mailbox each day, and is usually there when you awaken in the morning.
2 – Journaling. Journaling serves as a container to express and hold feelings, emotions, and experiences. It is also a way to make a more special connection and dialogue with inner voice. As we know, dialoguing, whether verbally or written, is very healing, emotionally, mentally and physically.
3 – Mindfulness. Becoming mindful means intentionally being present in any given moment. Rather than thinking of the past or future, being mindful is about focusing on what is happening at the present time. To be mindful also means we are nonreactive or judgmental of our thoughts or the thoughts of those around us. Natalie Goldberg, in her book, The True Secret of Writing, says that there are seven attitude of mindfulness—non-judging, patience, beginner’s mind, trust, non-striving, accepting and letting go. She suggests having these in mind when writing and at other times during the day, whether it’s approaching a friend, lover or employer or simply sitting or walking.
4 – Yoga. Is an exercise that promotes self-awareness and encourages mindfulness. Sometimes it is important to become aware of your thoughts in order to break the chain of negativity, but not in a way that becomes overpowering. By maintaining certain asanas or positions, yoga helps to quiet the mind.
5 – Creative Visualization. Creative visualization is a powerful tool that can help facilitate transformation from our present life us into dreams or aspirations. When we have positive feelings or intentions about all that we can achieve, we begin to live according to our potential. In other words, the thoughts we have influence our actions, and those will directly influence our experience. Picturing or visualizing every aspect of our ideal life as if it were real allows us to see where we are able to go by exploring every possibility and its possible relationship to our lives. Using creative visualization will make it easier to become energized and motivated by your hopes. In this way, it will bring you closer toward realizing your dreams.
6 – Meditation practice. There are many types of meditation, and it is best to find which method resonates with you and your own individual lifestyle and sensibility. Meditation is an efficient way to elicit self-awareness and involves sitting quietly with legs crossed in a chair or on the floor on a cushion. One effective way to meditate is to pay attention to the breath, beginning with breathing which originates in the abdomen. When thoughts arise, the person brings his or her attention back to the breath. After that is mastered, then awareness extends to thoughts, feelings and actions. Initial sessions begin with ten minutes each and increase incrementally.