OK, many of you have read the book. Many of you are practitioners already. For those of you already familiar with the books, I thought I knew what timed writing was all about, having read Wild Mind and Writing down the Bones. I had even taught the exercises in my journal writing classes.
But this weekend at Kripalu, amongst 149 other participants, I learned the discipline of putting it into practise. Writing is a physical activity, as Natalie often says, and a lot of elbow grease goes into a writing workshop with these repeated 10 minute exercises. (With a frozen shoulder and irritated nerve in my writing arm, this was a challenge). Natalie would often begin by having us sit for a while in silence, or listening to a song mindfully, then throw us a topic and say Go!
The second part of this discipline was to read one of our short pieces out loud, either to the whole group (some lucky souls did this, shivering in their boots though they may have been, tearful or brave or sans breath). Or more often, in a smaller group of three or four, we read to each other. In either case, it was very powerful. No comments, not a workshop, no good or bad. Just listening. Many many healing stories were unlocked this weekend. I felt like just being there amongst these writers we were opening up a vast ear-tunnel to the Universe, with deep truths funneled up to the Compassionate Ear above (or below, or within, who knows).
Some of the prompts were from her book, Old Friend from Far Away. One of the prompts that got me really going was given on the last day, What do you really want to write about?
It sounds so obvious, but after spending all day Saturday writing, exploring the topics that lead to memory and stories and revealed some of the old weights I still carry - it became more and more clear just what my Voice wanted to say. I was given permission to write the worst crap in Massachusetts this weekend, plus I was encouraged to say what I really wanted to say, no matter what. No good, no bad, as Natalie put it so often. Just listen wholeheartedly, with your whole body. Study the mind....
I hope if you ever want to write you will look up Natalie Goldberg. Her methods are simple but very powerful. I feel like I grew a backbone this weekend, cleared a space for my truth to be told. No matter what is popular, who is listening, what is going on around me, I learned to fall in love with my particular story and the telling of it, ten minutes by ten minutes....
ps Kripalu is offering another session with her in May.
See her website for details on her workshop schedule or book orders. (http://www.nataliegoldberg.com/index.html).