I invite you to cultivate a relationship with yourself by using writing as a daily practice. You are your lifelong companion, from birth until death. You may as well befriend yourself. Writing is a wonderful way to develop this friendship. Form a commitment to yourself, to give yourself care and attention daily, just as you would a loved one.
I stand at the shore of my mind
Gathering the shells and debris that
Arrive with each wave
Marveling at what is beautiful, loving and curious
Feeling tenderness for what is fragile and vulnerable
Resolving not to turn away with disgust at the inevitable litter
But instead to witness with compassion and learn from it
Each object is worthy of my attention and care
Each item serves growth and self-knowledge
Bringing the gift of attention to your daily life makes your experiences richer and deeper.
As you go through your day, savor your experiences with all your senses. Imagine how you would describe what you see, feel, hear, smell, taste. How would you describe your internal responses?
When you are ready, make a daily commitment to write. It has put new meaning and adventure into my day to proceed looking for a moment of beauty or significant experience I want to record. I savor my experiences more, think about how I would describe them, and look for the details. If I haven't found a subject by the end of the day, then I look back on my day and pick a moment.
Writing daily is therapeutic for many reasons. Every day I wake up curious to find out what I'll write about. As I go through my day, I keep my eyes open for beauty, joy, meaning that I want to record and share. I actively seek experiences of beauty, joy, and meaning to inspire my writing, which is a built-in form of self-nurturing. I express a wider emotional spectrum in writing than I do in speech. I can write in a more flowery and emotionally honest way than I would be comfortable speaking. Life gains significance and meaning as I pay attention. My memories are richer. I have stories to share with my husband, children, family, friends, and wider community.I have access to the friendship and support of a like-minded community of writers. It helps me let go of perfectionism to write daily. I am aware of the variations in quality of what I write. I accept myself, I accept my writing, and am grateful to honor this creative impulse inside me, regardless of the quality of the fruits it produces.
Mindfulness grants greater intimacy and familiarity with the world and ourselves. By becoming aware of the present moment, our bodies, and our internal responses, we learn to face ourselves and the world with equanimity. By facing our fears and darkness, we gain compassion, empathy and the freedom to move forward. Understanding impermanence and accepting that this too will pass frees us to take bold action. Knowing that we are a microcosm of the world, containing both darkness and light helps us cast a more forgiving eye on ourselves and this world. By becoming aware of how transient everything is, we learn to cherish each moment.
The Philosopher’s Stone
I am my parents' daughter
my brothers' sister
my husband's wife
my daughters' mother
friend of my friends
my patients' therapist
my lifelong companion
I love and value all my relationships
but it is my friendship with myself
that deepens and intensifies
all my other relationships
makes me kinder
clarifies my vision
attunes my senses
hones my sensitivity
is the fabled philosopher stone
nearer than our own breath
the elixir of life that
turns all we encounter to gold
Kani Ilangovan, M.D. is a child, adolescent, and adult psychiatrist in Princeton, NJ. She blogs at: embracingtransience.blogspot.com
She recently completed her first book Mindful Writing: Embracing Transience which is available at amazon.com
Her book invites you to experience your life more fully, moment by moment, through the use of writing exercises and pieces for reflection.