Ever try to silence your buzzing mind, but find that deep, focused breaths just aren’t doing the trick? While I’m sure a lot of you understand the role and significance of Ujai breathing, at times it’s helpful to do something a little more tactile to grapple with whirring, anxiety-laden thoughts. A great way to return to your peaceful, aware self is by putting pen to paper. Which brings me to freewriting, or “stream-of-consciousness writing,” a type of journaling very close to my heart.
As a devoted and self-proclaimed freewriter, I use freewriting almost everyday. Basically, I define freewriting as writing nonstop for a period of time, free of judgment from the self and others, and free of strict adherence to the conventions of the English Language. Whether I face academic or personal challenges, I freewrite to organize my whipsawing thoughts, gain control of overwhelming situations, explore concrete ideas from a myriad of perspectives, and release my emotions. Although the mere mention of the word “freewriting” begets misunderstanding, I have realized its effectiveness in uniting the mind and body.
Here’s a quick rundown of some of the benefits of freewriting:
Reduces Stress-Writing nonstop for several minutes gives you a sense of agency over your thoughts. No longer will you allow memories of a bad day or a fight with someone reek havoc on your mental and physical health! Releasing those emotions on paper with freewriting quiets the mind, calms the body, and harmonizes them both!
Engages the Senses-This kind of journaling activates many of our senses. Freewriting allows us to smell, hear, see, and feel our pen or pencil and paper. Your entire mind and body are present when you freewrite. Contemplative, yet active, freewriting appeals us mentally and physically. It awakens us and helps us maintain awareness of ourselves, something that we practice in yoga, no?
Emboldens Writers- There is nothing more intimidating than a blank Word Document staring at you, the cursor mocking you with every blink. If you’re a writer or hopeful writer with a yen to express yourself in words, but feel paralyzed by a fear of actually beginning the writing process (that’s me at times!), then freewrite yourself out of that anxiety. This technique is a creative outlet that lends itself well to anyone who wants to write, but feels shackled by a lack of ideas or the confines of writing conventions. You can start with “I don’t know” and then freewrite on!
Aligns with Yoga Philosophy– Freewriting is a fantastic addition to a healthy lifestyle of natural, green living. If we’ve learned anything from surfing mindbodygreen.com (a fun, comprehensive resource for ALL yogis and wellness warriors-I used to write for it, so search Sarah Greenberg), it’s that cultivating a life of mental, physical, and environmental harmony has never been easier. Freewriting is just another one of those thousands of resources universally available to us. You can freewrite anytime, anywhere, for however long. Just like that next option in a yoga pose, it’s always there for you.
So the next time you’re feeling overwhelmed with thoughts that you can’t breathe away, whip out a pen and notepad, and write!