Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Writing our way through physical ailments.....

This weekend marked 11 years that my father passed away due to lung cancer.  Co-incidently, my sister found a journal of his that he kept during during his illness.   During that time, i had completed Julia Cameron's The Artists' Way - actually both me and my sister worked on it together, and part of the process was writing 3 full pages every morning when we woke up.  During that time, my father was undergoing chemotherapy and coming to terms with his illness - on many levels - physical changes, the reality of his mortality, and more than anything learning to accept/understand himself and let go of the past.  I am a firm believer that stress if uncontained can have multitude effects on the body and i believe that although he was a smoker, he led a very stressful life - emotinally and physically ....Holding all these issues in one's body while still struggling to fight the disease can have consequences on spirit/body and so we suggested that he also start the morning pages -more so to help him move through all these issues.   11 years later, reading these pages, i have no doubt in my mind that writing out his physical processes helped his body/mind/soul come to terms with the inevitable and his passing was more peaceful and less painful.....

So today's post is about writing and its benefits on your physical ailments ---whether it be a headache, lower back pain, recurrent fevers, a terminal illness - whatever it may be - the origin is in stress, and writing out the pain helps one discover the real source of the disorder.    I can imagine people saying to me -"I'm in pain, i don't want to write about it." and i really don't want to go's too painful..."  My answer to those who don't want to go there is this - "Don't avoid it, because sooner or later it will catch up with you."....I cannot emphasize that enough!!!.   Studies have shown that people who write about their traumatic experiences feel better overall and visit doctors less frequently. Just like eating an apple has such wonderful health benefits, similarly, picking up a pen and paper or even typing on your computer for a couple of minutes a day could have tremendous health benefits.    Below are some exercises that I have found particularly helpful to me and i would like to share with you:

1.   Make a chronological history of your health - and be specific to the pain - make a note of incidences, illness, injury, or difficulty, and treatment options including alternative/natural and medications.   It is important to gain a picture of the origins and understand your body in order to help it.  

2.  Move your direction of writing inward ---understand that your body is reacting to something internally and it is important to dialogue that with your body.   Pick a part of your body - your head, your chest, ur back that is in discomfort and begin with the following sentence  "MY Head Feels __________ ...u can keep it simple by having one word answers or you can let yourself go in sentence format ......then the next sentence will be - My Head wants to say...........and again you can give short one word answers or sentence format......lastly, Today I was aware of ........

2.   Just like the process in  progressive muscle relaxation one tenses and relaxes muscles in our body as part of stress management, similarly, one can do a journaling exercise similar to that.....Tense and relax your muscles starting with your toes  feet, legs, stomach, shoulders, neck, face, eyes and as you relax, begin a five minute writing piece with the following  heading "My feet are ........"  You can start with your feet or your head...whatever it is and just let yourself write out what u are feeling......And at the end "Ask yourself - How Am i Feeling right now?

3. Just like people keep a food log, similarly keeping a pain log - jotting down the frequency of the pain, the intensity, after/before meals, if there are any triggers can also help.

4   For those on the artistic side -close your eyes and try to visualize an image of your illness/pain....and now try to have a dialogue with that illness....this takes longer - at least 30 minutes --so you need to keep time aside for that.....

For those of you putting this off, i urge you to try one of these exercises on a daily's good for the soul:)


  1. This is such valuable advice. I'm curious to hear more about the studies you mentioned which show that people who write about their traumatic experiences feel better overall and visit doctors less frequently.

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