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Emails. Texts. Notes. Writing, in its most basic form, is rooted in communication. We can’t escape doing it each every day. But chatting with a friend and being a writer are two different things. A certain mystique surrounds writers; they have the power to conjure up worlds with their imaginations… each voice has a unique style and creative form. Now, suppose you took “the art of writing,” out of the picture. What would you be left with? The act of writing can be a powerful means of self-expression, but it is also a valuable tool that can enhance mind/body wellbeing. Care to know how? Keep reading below!
I’m a yoga teacher and writer, and I created, Writers Flow Yoga; blended with sensory and creative exercises, this class helps writers, and those who want to write, free up their thoughts, while being engaged in a moving meditation. My goal is to open the senses, achieve clarity and tap into imagination while doing Yoga. Writers of all levels often suffer from writers block, and search for ways to help words flow with ease.
As a wellness practice, writers and non-writers can benefit from the healing benefits of writing. Something called expressive writing has been used in various studies to measure its effects on one’s psyche. Research shows, writing can alter your mental landscape, help create a positive perspective and strengthen immunity. A health study led by Laura King and Chad Burton, in the Journal of Research in Personality, recorded the behavior of 90 students. Subjects were divided into two groups; one had the task to write about a specific topic. The other group wrote a story about an extremely positive time in their lives; both wrote for 20 minutes each day, three days in a row. The subjects’ moods were recorded before and after writing. Months later health center visits were calculated. And those who wrote about positive experiences, had much less health center visits, and had an increased overall positive mood.
Not just happy times create health benefits. The negative ones also work their own kind of magic. When we journal, bringing voice to feelings and emotions that are difficult to express can be incredibly cathartic… The act of writing painful experiences on a regular basis can have profound health benefits. A research study by Joshua M. Smyth and Arthur A. Stone shed light on the link between writing and health. During a 4-month period, 107 rheumatoid arthritis and asthma patients were divided into 2 groups, one wrote about stressful experiences, and the other group about nonemotional experiences. Afterward, the patients who wrote about stressful times showed marked improvement in health; however, the group who wrote about mellow times (the control group) showed no change.
Practice Wellness Writing
Try this: keep a journal, dedicated to expressive writing. Instead of detailing events that happen as you would in a diary, use colored pens or pencils, and write your day through your feelings. Recreate moments and events that triggered strong responses, including as much sensory detail as possible. Write every day. And if nothing happens worth writing about on a given day, that’s okay. Make writing a ritual. Brew your favorite tea, and take time to breathe for a few minutes before getting started. Then trace back to early memories in your life, until one emotionally stirs you, and begin. Resist the urge to judge and edit as you write. Instead, let the words spring from your thoughts onto the page.
Writing is the ultimate mind body exercise. The thoughts are borne in the brain and brought to life through the hands. Allow yourself to be daring… Practice self-awareness and explore what’s lurking inside your mind. Release attachment to the words and enjoy the journey of writing for wellness. ■