Maybe “hate” is too strong a word. I strongly dislike meditating. I’ve tried to develop and maintain a meditating practice — sitting cross-legged, repeating a mantra, noticing my thoughts, breathing — more than once. So many wise and admirable people swear by it.
But it makes me antsy. Or sleepy. I’m resistant to it which for me usually means there’s something to it. Or maybe it’s not for me and there’s a better way. I think I found one: Morning Pages.
I read Julia Cameron’s book, The Artist’s Way, years ago and practiced doing her Morning Pages tool for a while. She describes it on her website:
Morning Pages are three pages of longhand, stream of consciousness writing, done first thing in the morning.
*There is no wrong way to do Morning Pages*– they are not high art. They are not even “writing.” They are about anything and everything that crosses your mind– and they are for your eyes only.
Morning Pages provoke, clarify, comfort, cajole, prioritize and
synchronize the day at hand. Do not over-think Morning Pages: just put three pages of anything on the page…and then do three more pages tomorrow.
Three rules: three pages longhand, done first thing in the morning, for your eyes only.
I stopped doing it after I told my sister about it and she said “Why?” in that snarky tone that meant “you’re stupid for doing something I don’t understand”. It did seem pointless and time-consuming and it made me as antsy as meditation did so I stopped.
I started again two years ago after I read an article in a 2008 issue of Scientific American Mind magazine in which Cameron was interviewed about creativity:
Morning pages allow you to bypass the censor, because there’s no wrong way to do the pages. You just keep writing. They allow you to take risks freely with your ideas.
I now write my morning pages on that same magazine every morning. As Cameron instructs, I do it first thing in the morning. I write them in pencil without an eraser on plain printer paper usually with my face pressed against my pillow. Writing on paper without lines is important for me. I care less about neatness that way. Writing with a pencil is important too. I write with pencil to indicate that this is different from my journal writing done with a pen. And it is different. The pencil has no eraser so I won’t be tempted to… erase. There are no such thing as mistakes in my morning pages.
It’s difficult to write the three pages at first. I spent a lot of time thinking and wanting not to think instead of writing, but that’s a mistake. As soon as I stopped censoring and wrote whatever thought came up it stopped feeling difficult. It’s thought…thought…feeling…feeling…thought. What was I sensing? What did I dream? What do I have to do today? What am I looking forward to? Cameron advises us to write “I don’t have anything to write” if you don’t have anything to write, over and over until you have something to write. Now getting through three pages is a breeze. I sometimes write four or five pages.
It’s a writing meditation. It’s listening and transcribing. It’s like having a one-sided conversation with yourself. The morning pages allow you to “connect to (your) own consciousness and to connect to a larger something”, as Cameron describes it in Psychology Today. I have a lot of wacky ideas in my morning pages. I do a lot of wondering. I let myself be afraid. I pay close attention to my dreams (because no one else wants to hear about your dreams). And I do it all without judgement. It’s the showing up to the page everyday and the lack of judgement that’s therapeutic.
I’ve read that some people type their morning pages. I think Cameron advises against this because you think differently at the keyboard. It’s too tempting to use the delete key and the point isn’t to be accurate, fast or efficient.
I read about one girl who burned her morning pages. I gasped when I read that. It seems sacrilegious somehow. I have a pile of pages that’s about a foot high that will just get higher because I’m not getting rid of them.
Most of the ideas for my blog posts came out of something written in my morning pages. Or I’ve found an angle on a topic while writing my morning pages. My growing pile of morning pages is proof that there’s no such thing as writer’s block.
I’m saner, kinder to myself, more open, and more relaxed since I started writing morning pages and I believe that’s the point of meditation.
This tool is perfect for the overthinkers, the worriers, the cares-too-much types, the feel-too-much types, the stuck, the cranky, the creative and want to be creative.
Get it all on the page and get on with your day.
And it won’t make you sleepy.