by Marisol Tamez
By now, it is common knowledge that we are living in the midst of a digital revolution during which the majority of our communication is conducted electronically.
Gone are the days of writing letters to a friend when a quick email may suffice. Phone calls are replaced with text messages, greeting cards and thank you notes have been reduced to 140 characters. We use Facebook and Twitter to share our thoughts and feelings, social media becoming a digital journal of sorts when we can’t seem to express ourselves directly. It’s the norm to now use our phones as mini computers to enter notes and task lists and to create deadlines and reminders. Even our young children learn to guide their finger on an iPad or iPhone screen before learning to hold a pencil.
This is not a new trend. For at least the past twenty years, we have been witnessing the slow death of handwriting.
Today, it seems as if life’s fast pace calls for efficiency if we want to keep up with the pack.
Many students need laptops in class simply to get through the course. The demands of fast-paced production require creators to cultivate ideas and produce daily content, giving little time for brainstorming on paper. Essentially, we’re just accommodating our ways of operating in order to not fall behind.
Have we traded creativity and intimacy for efficiency?
Do you remember what it felt like to write a book report, using an eraser or whiteout to fine-tune your words? Perhaps you were the type to write several drafts, almost memorizing your sentences by the time of completion. Remember the feeling of receiving a letter in the mail, the anticipation of opening the envelope and perhaps even being able to interpret the sender’s mood or personality by observing the manuscript’s shape? Did you ever pass notes to your friends in class? I myself remember sharing special composition books with my closest friends. We would write notes to each other, sharing the latest news in our teenage life, sometimes doodling on the pages’ borders. Many of us miss this personal connection.
Not only does writing with our hand allow us to enhance the impact of our communication with others, it also strengthens our ability to connect with ourselves, maybe even on a greater scale. There is something about picking up a pen and allowing thoughts and feelings to flow candidly that not only frees our emotions but also creates space for healing in the process. I myself have found that the act of journaling is one of the most direct ways toward personal exploration and self-realization.
As a yoga teacher, I tend to witness many processes from an energetic perspective. Our heart, not only the physical organ, but our center of love and wisdom, extends its energy into our arms and hands. We have the opportunity to experience this on a physical level when we greet each other by shaking hands, embracing in a hug, or walking holding hands. Sometimes, we can even sense what a person is feeling by the way in which she touches you. If we play a musical instrument or create art, we are also familiar with this energetic travel from heart to hand.
In a very similar manner, every time we hold a pen and write, our hand carries all of the energy from our heart onto the paper. It is here where we have the chance to discover what we truly feel and already know to be true deep inside of us. Often times, writing from the hand flows much easier than typing on a keyboard. When we write by hand, we hesitate less with our words, resulting in a more personal, raw, and uncensored experience. Sometimes, we may even feel as if our hand is trying to keep up with the language of our heart. This allows us to own our words, and, despite whatever comes out, we can’t backspace and delete the statement to satisfy the incessant chatter of our inner critic.
You may read this and still feel hesitant to suddenly begin writing everything by hand. In all honesty, I too am part of the majority that types away and have even written this very piece from my laptop. Rather, my intention is simply to introduce you to the experience of journaling by hand, a practice that has literally transformed my life when I commit myself to doing so.
I’d like to share an exercise…
That my coach and Hay House author, Jennifer Grace, introduced to me that has allowed me to tap into my deep personal knowledge and wise inner voice. Some of you may know this technique as a shorter-timed version of Julia Cameron’s Morning Pages, a technique proven to enhance creativity as introduced in her best seller, The Artist’s Way.
The idea is to set a notebook right by your bedside and, immediately upon waking, roll over, grab the pen, and allow your hand to flow for at least five minutes. This precious time between sleep and wake is when many of our most significant self-realizations may come to light. This is our spirit speaking, loud and unedited, before our ego mind attempts to filter our words. The stream of consciousness style of writing brings out our very first thoughts of the day, as we purge the mind to clear up space for new brilliance. Do not judge what comes up. In time, the words on the paper may or may not transform. However, you may discover that you are able to access insights that you normally would not have dared to entertain and explore.
Whether you write for personal expression, creative process, or in communication with others, I urge you to simply try introducing the use of your hand. Notice how it feels to compose thoughts onto paper. Does your body respond with increased sensation, such as your heart tingling or stomach excited? Witness your voice infused with the passion and honesty of your heart. As the classic author Henry David Thoreau said, “Write while the heat is in you.” Allow your inner fire to bring intimacy and warmth to that which has been frozen.
Marisol Tamez is a yoga teacher, writer, multi-media producer and Executive Director of Yoga Gangsters, a non-profit organization providing free yoga programs to at-risk youth in inner city communities. Connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.