A few years back I discovered a writing exercise that has helped me remedy intense emotions that would otherwise monopolize my being.
In a sleep deprived state in 2014, I was waiting to board a airplane when I suddenly felt taken over by angry thoughts stemming from a recent falling out with a friend. Given my exhaustion I knew that if I didn’t figure something out fast I was going to spend the upcoming three-hour flight swirling in resentment.
In a moment of intuition I quickly found paper and pen, and once I was settled on board the plane, I got to work.
Scanning my body for where I was feeling anger, I noticed my lower back felt clenched. Keeping focused on my lower back I imagined what this tension would say if it could speak. Whatever popped into my head I wrote down on the paper. My first thought was my best thought.
I then scanned my body again, and this time I noticed that my chest felt tight. Keeping focused on my chest I imagined what this tightness would say if it could speak. I wrote down the first thing that came to mind.
I kept going with this recipe. I scanned my body for tension, I imagined what the tension would say and I wrote it down. As I repeated these steps different areas of my body would tense-up, which I would then invite to speak-up. I continued to write whatever came to mind without judgment or question.
Less than an hour later, through a handful of tender and weepy moments, my body, my emotions, and my mind were completely peaceful.
Covering every inch of my piece of paper however, mean, vulnerable, and brutally honest words were passionately underlined, capitalized, and exclaimed.
But the health of that moment definitely outweighed the harsh writing. Without stuffing it down (repression) or dumping it on someone else (expression), my anger was neutralized.
I call this writing your body. It is a powerful practice for seeing and clearing strong emotions. It is accomplished in six simple steps:
- AWARENESS: Notice when you are feeling a strong emotion/feeling stressed
- WRITING TOOLS: Find a pen and paper
- BODY: Scan your body for tension
- IMAGINATION: Focus on the tension and imagine what it would say if it could speak
- WRITE IT DOWN: Write down whatever comes to mind. Don’t hold back, don’t judge, and don’t question
- REPEAT: Repeat steps 3, 4, and 5 until you feel completely peaceful
If/when you are finding yourself emotionally triggered, write your body. All you need is pen, paper, and some time to yourself.