Here I am talking about “Morning Pages,” an exercise created by writing coach Julia Cameron for artists, writers, and anyone who struggled to express themselves creatively. I have a slightly different angle to the exercise. I view it as a meditation on paper, a tool that helps clear away lingering thoughts and emotions, “cleans our mental/emotional landscape,” so to speak… So that we can begin the day clear, creative, and free.
I have been doing Morning Pages for a couple of years now.
When I taught meditation, one of things I reminded participants was “anyone can meditate.” Similarly, I feel that anyone can do Morning Pages.
In these times of stress and uncertainty, Morning Pages is a beautiful exercise of space, solitude, letting go and breathing out.
Breathe the proper way, that is. Where you draw the breath into your system, long and deep and deliberate, and then you stay put, be still. Then you let it go, slow and long and drawn out, no hurry or hesitation involved. It comes in, a steady inflowing stream, and then you let it flow out, a long and smooth whoosh. It can become a nice, personal dance where you are the dancer and the audience.
I taught little kids to breathe too. Their little breaths would gush out of their sweet bodies, so trusting and surrendering. They would let it all out, give it all away… and I could steal it all if I so wanted. But I’d be a nasty villain if I did that. And I know that nasty villains exist, and they were likely little kids as well, sincere and eager and trusting. Then the world began to let them down, one infraction at a time, then another, and another. Little kids learned not to trust. They started retreating, eyes not making contact, words not giving a response. There is a teenager. And I taught that one also to breathe. Played the monkey and the elephant and the snake and the lion. Breathe in, then out… don’t stop. Don’t be afraid or fearful, I am right here with you. There is love in the world, and there is sex, and there is intimacy. There is parental love, and the romantic kind.
I also taught grownups to meditate. This was my favorite thing of all. It is simple, people… NOT EASY. This is such a lovely, tough thing to grasp. And I’d spent years trying to clutch and grasp at the little meditation dance, so I had ample sympathy, an abundance of metaphors to help guide those interested.
For the first time in your life, there is no performing, not a thing to do.
It is sweet bliss.
And then I let it all go. Or it let go of me. I sank into the silence, no more eye contact, no more voice response. The farther I went, the more alone I got. The deeper I fell, the louder the silences. I whirled around in the wilderness, finally song-less, finally wordless. But the woods and wind saw it all. They silently rejoiced but I was still and unmoving.
My body had become large and swollen. I fit nowhere, I could go no place. I thought it was time to be selfish. I was going to let this fill up my insides and pulse through my veins, making them stand taut and shiny green. My voice began flowing again but the channels were hidden, and only a few could hear it. The song broke free of all chords and scales, it became a major solo orchestra, blinding and deafening.
I always thought that to be home meant to be alone. For, when you are truly home, you are utterly by yourself. No friend or lover, parent or a child, soulmate, pet, not even God… well, at least how we like to define God. No, S/H/e/It isn’t there either.
To be home means to be entirely and utterly by oneself.
I, for one, never had an issue with that.
Even as a child, I liked spending the long hours by myself. Books were the next best option. My sister and my mother were great companions too. Perhaps because they liked their space and quiet as well. So there we were, left to our individual wiles and devices (not the electronic type), utterly happy (or not), pottering around in our own little worlds.
There have been quiet evenings when I have wondered if company would be the antidote to that dull, brooding feeling. But no, not really, I don’t think so. I am not sure if that gnawing restlessness would have been fixed by people and conversation. Yes, there have been times when I have desired for people and conversation, deep and light. I have wanted for bright, warm lights, good home-cooked food, a warm corner to curl in, a cozy ride home with P.
But most evenings, home is alone and alone is home, and it feels perfect and abundant.