After a six year hiatus, I am thrilled to announce the resurrection of my former blog “Wandering Warrior of the Light”. With new branding and official domain name, I present to you “The Tao of Stu”. Now, more than any other time in recent history, we need the unifying voices of our warriors – those with the courage to dive deep into darkness, light and everything in between, and share their truth. I have finally heeded the call.
As early as I can recall, I have had a natural aversion to writing and reading. The reading part faded when I began enjoying books of my own choosing, after I finished high school. However, the writing block has stuck with me to this day. I still do not love writing. I still have a hard time picking up my pen or sitting down to type. I am still very conscious of the voice that screams, “You’re not good enough! Who would ever want to read what you have to say?” That said, I am reaching a point where I can recognize my power as a magician. This archetype certainly resonates.
The self-deprecating narrative I have aggressively clung to is starting to wane. I am now writing – publicly, even. There is a part of me who is confident they have something to share, something thoughtful and profound. It feels as though I am reaching a stage of synthesis where my scattered ideas are being connected by some invisible thread. A weaving of the web. Meaning making. I observe the world quite differently than many. Not because I’m special – we all are – but because I take time to reflect on these things. One vital tool which has helped me in my honest reflection is the Morning Pages.
Morning Pages are three pages of longhand, stream of consciousness writing, done first thing in the morning.
The actual exercise is simple enough. Find a notebook or journal of some kind – it can be a cheap spiral bound notebook or a hardbound Moleskin journal. It doesn’t matter. Grab a pen that you enjoy. Make sure that you use a pen that is easy to write with and feels comfortable in your hand. Personally, I use a Leuchtturm dot journal and a Uniball Deluxe fine point pen. The pen glides like butter on the thick pages and there’s no smudging (my typical left-handed curse). I never thought stationary items would have me so excited. Get up a little bit earlier every morning and complete three pages of stream of consciousness writing. That’s it, baby.
There might be days that you don’t feel like writing. Write anyway. You might forget to do it in the morning. Do it in the afternoon instead, or right before bed. You might start writing and feel like you can’t fill out three pages, it’s too hard. But fill all three anyway. The magic comes from pushing yourself to complete your pages. It doesn’t matter what you write, either. You could write down what dreams you had the night before, what you are currently worried about, the cat’s litter box habits, the chores you don’t want to do, the way your coffee tastes, a grocery list, a to-do list, affirmations… Write whatever pops into your head. Hell, you can even write, “I don’t know what to write” until you fill the pages.
This time is for you and the pages and nothing else, so don’t compromise your you-time for someone else’s needs. Distractions can wait most of the time, and you losing focus and giving in to a distraction could be that little negative voice in the back of your head pulling you away from clarity and confidence. Don’t give in. Write, and the truth will fall out of your pen.
Because slowly, without your realizing it, the Morning Pages are healing you. Whatever injury you suffered, whether that be a blow to your confidence, a lack of certainty, or a sudden devastating change in your life, the Morning Pages act as a rock you can rely on and a pillow you can cry into. You can bounce ideas off the page, revel in accomplishments, rant about injustices in the world, or vent your emotions in any way you want.
Since commiting to the Morning Pages, I have deepened my intrinsic motivation to write. Of course, I will be happy if this anchors me in the practice of writing and hones my skill of the craft. However, this is not just an exercise, it is a journey into self.
The hero’s journey begins here – with a single step. I am tending to the fire, with each stroke of the pen, using the heat to craft my blade. Not the blade to kill, but the blade to cut through Truth and delusion.
I don’t typically share my entries. In fact, I rarely re-read them myself. But here is a juicy reflection that came up one day in the first few months of the practice:
“It’s so funny, lately I’ve been approaching these pages with zero mind. Just sitting down, grabbing the pen and go. Every time, without fail so far, I start with mindless ramblings and end up writing about a deep passion, interest or desire. I wonder how often I miss the opportunity to dive deep into the root of things because I’m stuck on the surface? This is especially true when I’m feeling into tougher emotions or the hamster wheel in my head is spinning at warp speed. I get stuck playing out narratives. Ones that I generate myself, passed down to me through a terribly sick culture. I tend to get caught up in the stories around the emotion rather than leaning into the feeling and moving through it.
This practice of starting on the surface and then naturally diving deeper has been so enlightening. There is no force, no friction, just a steady stream of consciousness. Once the movement of the pen satisfies the surficial clutter, it opens the door to rooms that I seldom explore. Through this conscious free-flow, I am able to walk through the door without expectation. The tone changes from judgment and diagnoses to observation and wonder. The stage is set for me to be the explorer of my psyche, less influenced by the shame gremlins that tell me, “I’m not good enough” and distort my perception reality. Perhaps it is the transaction-less approach that disarms the ego. I’m not entering these Morning Pages with an end goal. I simply want to show up. My ego doesn’t feel the need to build walls or reinforce artillery because the sword (the pen, for this magician) is wielded from a place of love. The drawbridge remains lowered and (sometimes) I can walk right in. This stream of consciousness journaling has been the Trojan horse for my psyche.
There have been few times in my life where I write without purpose, simply for writing’s sake. The more I dive into the Morning Pages, the more I recognize that attachment to the content of my writing has always been a barrier to finding depth in the process. The depth here is formed not with blunt force, but rather steady persistence over time. My intention is not to be like the coal minor smashing into the ground with aching joints, but rather the steady persistence of water eroding and shaping the banks of a stream. This conscious free-flow is a cultivation of Wu Wei – action without force.
Last night in conversation, I compared this practice to a meditation. Essentially that’s all it is. To sit and listen. For the body to simply be the vehicle through which ink hits the page. That’s it. I don’t want to judge the thoughts or override the flow. In seated meditation, the focus is on breath and body. With this practice the body is still and the breath is steady, but the focus is on the pen capturing the next thought that arises in the mind. Without filters. Without judgment. Just listening. Oh, how little I do this. As always, my thoughts are clouded with judgment and I seek to rationally interpret everything. The judgment is conditioned by old narratives that, more than not, are rooted in lack and scarcity from the Story of the World I have inherited. What if I could learn to listen to my body, my emotions, my thoughts, etc. without this scarcity or “not enough” lens filtering everything I see? How liberating and insightful that would be? I truly believe this practice is making space for that. What a gift. I’m confident deeper healing can take place when the rational and judgmental ego, always looking to diagnose, takes a back seat. What a mythical journey.”