My solution to family tragedy: Mindful Writing

By Contributor Jennifer Johnson

I began an in-depth exploration of various writing practices years ago following my mother’s suicide attempt.

I had studied a number of writing practices, but I hadn’t found one in which I could find an ease, a resting place.

So I created my own practice I call Mindful Writing based on a blend of

Writing illustration by Jennifer Johnson

my study and practice of Insight Meditation, various writing techniques and therapeutic writing.

Writing about my experience mindfully helped me to make order from the chaos and make meaning from the tragedy that had occurred in my family.

Mindful Writing involves the writer entering the practice with mindfulness meditation, listening to her/his thoughts and writing what she/he hears.

Unlike most practices that encourage the writer to write as quickly as possible, I encourage the writer to write slowly, so it becomes a mindfulness practice of being present with what arises in the writer’s thoughts in each passing moment.

The practice is most powerful when undertaken within the support of a facilitated group. I participated in a weekly facilitated writing group for a number of years similar, in some regards, to this practice. The very act of writing what wanted to have a voice within me and then reading it aloud in a group while receiving guidance and feedback from the facilitator provided an experience of learning to trust my own voice.

It offered a warm environment in which I could express anything that arose in me in response to my family’s tragedy and feel a sense of connectedness, belonging and acceptance by a group of fellow writers on the path.

Writer's desk illustration by Jennifer Johnson

Week by week, the writing helped me to transform the suffering in my experience and helped me to heal. The writing, along with my own mindfulness practice, was such a powerful experience I became passionate about creating a Mindful Writing technique, combining the two things most healing for me: Insight Meditation practice and a healing writing process.

This practice isn’t about building one’s writing craft. It’s about accessing the inner well of creative flow, learning to trust one’s authentic writing voice and healing.

In addition to my Mindful Writing: The Path to Creative Freedom workshop and daylong retreat, I offer an online therapeutic writing workshop called Mindful Writing for Transformation.

This transformative workshop provides an individual interaction with me in which beginning or experienced writers receive a text-based lesson weekly and then email me their writing for guidance and response. People come to this workshop in transition or dealing with suffering of some sort, such as anxiety, depression, grief or loss, war, accident, abuse-related trauma, stress or illness.

Participants learn mindfulness skills for managing the difficult emotions related to the painful events, and through their writing, they begin to transform the suffering.

With a mindful approach to writing, we can heal this world one story at a time.

My next Mindful Writing for Transformation online six-week workshop is March 23 – April 27, 2012. Cost is $125. Please email to register.


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