Writing my way to peace
MEGHANA ANAND explores the benefits of reflective writing in finding inner peace.
A couple of years ago, while on a camping trip, I enjoyed a game of hide-and-seek with my little son. When it was time for me to seek, I found him sitting under one of the camp beds, still and serene, with his eyes closed. When I asked, “What were you doing?” he replied, “I was looking for inner peace.” I realized he was imitating Master Shifu from Kung Fu Panda, which he had watched a few days ago.
We are constantly in search of everlasting peace.
Well, doesn’t that line sound clichéd? To me it surely does, but I cannot deny the fact that I look for peace, too. And most of the time, like others, I look for it in the wrong place, in the wrong company, or rather in the wrong direction. In my search, needless to say, I get hit, bruised, hurt, reach a dead end, and then wonder where to go next. A dead end forces me to make a u-turn and … eureka!
“Oh, I have looked everywhere but within myself. Why not give it a try?”
So I muster courage and peek within. I am not at all happy with what I see, and with what I feel. It is quite nauseating, to be very frank, but I persist. And over time I have discovered a neat tool to help me in this exercise of knowing myself, facing myself, and finding peace within myself by making peace with myself.
Writing and maintaining a journal has helped me immensely as a self-check exercise and a major stress-buster. My diary has been a silent confidant since I was a teenager: I could confide my worst fears and share my most passionate secrets. As I grew up it also became a reflective and meditative tool for self-improvement.
Whenever I feel the need to vent something that otherwise may not be understood or taken in the right spirit by my friends and family, I turn to my secret inanimate friend for solace. I write even when I am unable to understand myself. It helps in more ways than one.
I run through the following steps before beginning my tête-à-tête:
I find a quiet place to sit. The space within and the space without both matter. So I also take a few minutes to find the inner space, the silence within, and relax.
In that moment of stillness and silence, I feel myself:
What is bothering me?
What is exciting me?
How is my current state-of-mind affecting my routine and my relationships?
Is the cause of any irritation or excitement outside or inside me?
Do I like it?
Do I want to change it?
and so on…
Then I begin writing exactly what I feel, honestly, truthfully, completely aware that there is nobody to question or judge me. I can bare myself before myself.
Often, at the end of this very private conversation I have with myself, I observe a strange kind of peace and lightness settling within, even before I finish narrating or writing all that I wanted to share. Sometimes an answer emerges; sometimes I realize I don’t need an answer any more.
Be it a bad day at work or an irritable day at home, I have always found reflective writing to be a very effective tool for venting stress and making peace with myself. Often, it awakens me to a higher calling or longing. I realize that making peace with myself is the first step towards finding peace within myself. It inspires and motivates me to delve further into my quest for everlasting peace and happiness.
As I sit at my desk, under the dim glow of a lamp, and write this, I pause for a second to gaze out the window. The sky is overcast. The lush green of a wild tree soothes the vision, and my ears perk up to the hoot of a wise old owl.
Nature stirs up this mysterious longing further.
The resplendent sunrise ushering the dawn of a new day; the orange horizon at sunset; the song of the cuckoo just before the rain; the fragrance of drenched earth during the monsoon; the silver moon over the mystical desert; the vastness of the ocean; the twinkling stars in the infinite sky; the gurgling laughter of a child, as she looks at everything with wonder and innocence – such hazy memories surface from the depths of my being and bring life to words.
Many of us have experienced such stirrings or yearnings in our lives, especially when we were children. It is as if someone is knocking at the door of the heart, from the inside. I see reflective writing as a wonderful tool to explore these mysterious yearnings of the heart.
Knock, knock …
Instead of asking, “Who’s there?”
I open the door to see
who is waiting on the other side.
Article by MEGHANA ANAND
April 28, 2017
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