Writing with Heart, Body, and Mind Wide Open

Originally posted 04/09/2019

Do you like to write? Or, perhaps, do you have to write? Both are true for me. I write a lot. And sometimes for long periods at a time. My day job involves a fair amount of writing, though overall I still spend a lot of my evenings and weekends scribbling away on paper. To me writing is a way to communicate between me and my inner Self, first and foremost. I understand the world better when I understand myself better, and vice versa. Writing is one of the ways to contribute to that evolving understanding. 

If this resonates with you, I want to invite you to write with Heart, Body, and Mind wide open. What this means is that when you sit down to write next, whether on a computer, phone, or paper, remember that writing is a spiritual, physical, and mental process. It involves the harmony between the different Parts of your Self.

Below are some tips to help you along your writing journey while engaging your Parts. See what works for you, be patient with yourself, and have fun during your progress: 

  1. Lighten Up! Relax the grip. Richard Binder gave me this advice: write the phrase “LIGHTEN UP” in big letters and hang it where I see it when I write. He mentioned that while he was in grade school, his teacher would come up after him and try to take the pen out of his hand. If it came off easily, he’d exert just right amount of grip. If it did not come off, he’d gripped it too tightly. As no one is now walking behind you to do this, just write up the phrase, hang it where you see it while writing, and remember that it only takes a light grip to have command of the pen.
  2. Move away from, not across, your body. Michael Sull gave me this advice: the direction of your hands movement should be away from your body (vertical) instead of across your body (horizontal.)
  3. Angle your paper. Helps with point # 2!
  4. Write with your arm, not with your fingers or wrist. Also Michael Sull’s advice, which also comes from an old tradition that has been largely forgotten. The movement actually should starts from the shoulder, not just the arm, if you’re able.
  5. One fist away from edge of desk. Michael Sull’s excellent tip! Form a fist, put it between you and the edge of the desk. That’s how far away you shall be from the desk to not be too close to or far away from it while writing.
  6. If it fits, it sits. Make sure your pen provides a comfort grip. Barrel size, length, balance when posted… all matter!
  7. Take breaks. This speaks for itself. Take frequent breaks. Remember your eyes also need relaxation!
  8. Head, back, shoulder, knees, and toes. And eyes and ears, and mouth and nose. The ol’ nursery rhyme is actually an excellent reminder to be mindful of your body alignment. The Alexander Technique has taught me about the coordination of my body.
  9. Neck can free and lengthen. Head forward and up. Back can lengthen and widen. * This mantra is something that Tommy Thompson, one of my Alexander Technique teachers, has taught me. I have found it to be extremely useful in releasing some of the tension I carry with me – either physically, emotionally, or often both. Now every time I sit, walk, carry myself, I would chant the mantra either out loud (just enough for me to hear while walking ’round!) or quietly to myself.
  10. Rotate, recharge, repeat. Not just rotate among your pens, or notebooks, but rotate among your activities. Realize that writing is one of the activities of your day, that you can take a break and come back to it refreshed.

I hope you find fun, peace, and encouragement in writing or any activity that you do. If you have other suggestions, or any feedback on these tips, please leave a comment or send me a note. 

Until next time –

Lily Thanh
Grail Pens 

*Edit Notes: Sat 04/20/19 — Tommy very graciously reached out to provide more clarification and details on the teaching, as shown below. I believe this is important and would like to share with you all. 

“You begin with neck to be free to lengthen in order for the head to be free to move or rotate forward and up in your Atlanto/occipital joint.

So neck free first, head forward and up, back to lengthen and widen – in this order. And what you are doing is affirming what is already taking place as an ongoing continuum in response to gravitational force, however due to habitual patterns of behavior may not be taking place easily enough. 

​Carry on.” 

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