Listening to Our Bodies

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By Leslie Blackburn

Welcome to Month #3 of a practice series adapted from my upcoming book, Sacred Sexuality: Listening to Our Bodies. These practices encourage a more fully embodied, conscious, and lovingly connected way of being with ourselves and others. (Find Month #1 and a longer introduction to the practices in the March 2023 issue, p.20, or online here.)

For all these practices, I suggest setting a regular time aside and sticking with it for at least 21 days as you explore and navigate toward a more vibrant way of being in the world.

Title: Journaling & Free Writing

Time to Allow: Ranges from a few seconds to hours

Description & Benefits: Capturing thoughts, to-do lists, “aha moments,” and self-reflections to support you in widening awareness, deepening integration of healing moments, creating space for your mind to settle, and allowing a safe space for you to express and remember who you are.

Essential Ingredients: Basic journal; pen or pencil. Optional: Colored pencils, sparkly stickers, photos, art, clippings, found items in nature, paint

Story & Procedure:

Although I’d already been journaling for years, in 2002, the book The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron1 took my process to the next level and ultimately guided me into the next phase of my life. Journaling works because it helps us connect with the deeper layers of who we are while producing a tangible, durable record of that interaction that we can access. The self-discovery and self-awareness that result support the growth process, so I encourage my clients to begin journaling if they have not already.

Here are some of the ways I’ve seen journaling helpful to myself and others:

●      Clear the Mind – If you find your mind remains active when you try to settle in for meditation or to slow down, you may find it easier to let go of it if you write it down. This can include thoughts, to-do lists, etc.

●      Capture “Aha Moments” – Insights and can be slippery to hold onto. They often come from a place in ourselves that sometimes only peeks briefly into our everyday awareness. Writing them down helps capture those strokes of the brilliance of clarity and gives them a place to take root.

●      Stream of Consciousness – This is the mainstay of Julia Cameron’s “Morning Pages.” Set aside a time in the morning to fill 2-3 pages with the words that flow through your pen to the page. For me, this was hard at first. I found myself literally writing, “blah blah blah, I don’t want to write right now, but I am doing it anyway….” But then, Wow! A big thing would show up that needed to come through. Often it was the same big thing every day, and it was the

1 Cameron, Julia. The Artist’s Way. New York: Jeremy P. Tarcher/Putnam, 1992. Print.

The thing I didn’t really want to look at. This practice created space for it to be heard. Gently I was able to meet it and start to listen.

●      Questions for Self-Reflection – Use your journal to support your growth from other practices. As you explore workshops, books, training courses, videos, audio, and guided practices – do the practices, answer the questions, and reflect on your experiences in your journal. This is your life! It’s worth writing about – make your journal yours.

●      Art – Sketching ideas and drawing what’s alive in me at the moment helps me to remember something easier than words alone. My journal becomes a safe space to create without judgment.

Everyone has a different approach to journaling. Some love exquisitely bound journals, while others grab a spiral notepad and start the process. Even a basic legal pad serves well. Do what works for you, and make room for your preferences to change over time. I started out journaling on lined pages and then shifted to unlined pages, open to a fuller range of graphic expressive possibilities through drawing, color, insets, quotes, and pasted-in inspirations. The most important thing is to start, then keep going.

Once you get your journal, I invite you to initiate it. Hold a simple ritual to begin your writing. As I start a new journal, I often read back through the old one or sit and meditate and hold space for what I am noticing in my life as I begin the new one.

Here’s a “Free-Writing” practice that can be helpful to get you started. “Free Writing” is simply about connecting to your inner guidance and opening to what flows through you.

● Settle in with your journal and pen or pencil. Release distractions (turn off phones, etc).

● Take five deep belly breaths, and call to Spirit for guidance in your way.

● Ask: “What do I need to know right now?” You can supplement this if you seek clarity on a specific inquiry in your life. (Ex: What do I need to know right now to support my project? To manifest my partner into my life? To transition my business? To support my authentic path? To open in my sexual empowerment?), yet this question can stand alone really well. Simply: “What do I need to know right now?”

● Put pen or pencil to paper and start writing without judging, censoring, or stopping yourself.

● Write continuously for 3-5 minutes. These few minutes of clock time are all you need to open to your answer.

● When the time is up, ask if there is more. Continue if you feel inspired.

● Once you feel complete, take a breath of gratitude for Spirit and for yourself for taking time for you.

● Rest in silence for a few breaths and allow the response to integrate in your body.

Leslie is a queer, white, omnisexual, polyamorous, ecosexual, kinky, genderqueer supporter of all beings to be authentically who they are, and uses the pronouns they, them. Their work blends Sacred Sexuality, Ancestral Healing, Grief & Emotional release, and Anti-Racism work to support collective liberation, self-awareness, vitality, empowerment, and joy. Leslie stewards the land at One Space: a private sanctuary, home, Temple, and community space on four wooded acres in Ann Arbor, Michigan. www.LeslieBlackburn.com

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