Writing to heal is scientifically proven. I knew I always felt better after I had written in my journal, especially the painful yucky stuff, but I didn’t know there was “real” science that backed up what I felt. Not until I read an article about James W. Pennebaker, a psychology professor. He became deeply interested in the physical and mental benefits of what he called self-disclosure and created an experiment to test out his theory. He gathered a group of students who were asked to write about their own traumatic experiences for 20 minutes, on three consecutive days. Serving as a control group were an equal number of students asked to write about unimportant matters.
The results showed that there was a marked difference between the two groups in terms of the impact of the writing exercise. In those who had written of trivial matters, there was no change either in their physical or mental health. In contrast, those who had written about traumatic experiences and painful memories showed a marked strengthening of their immune system, decreased visits to the doctor and significant increases in psychological well-being. These findings were measured using physiological markers, behavioral markers and self-reporting. In another study in the 1990s of people with AIDS, those who wrote about their diagnosis and how it had affected their lives experienced a beneficial increase in white blood counts and a drop in their viral loads.
I found that fascinating … and it made sense as to why I always feel better after a writing and burning session. Writing and burning is not meant to take the place of regular daily journaling, gratitude lists or dreams and desires. It really is just for the YUCK stuff. I often refer to it as hate mail … that never gets sent … which is a VERY good thing. Writing and burning is for the pain and anger and resentment and jealousy. It’s for all those feelings of insecurity that hold you back in ways that you may just be discovering. It’s a safe time and place to write all your pain, your problems, your challenges and yes, even your hates. Once a day or once a week … whenever you have emotions that you want to release from your mind and body in a healthy way. It is so much better to write it out than yelling and screaming, stuffing the body with food and alcohol, letting the critical voice take over or simply ignoring and denying the feelings. Writing and Burning allow you a place to get honest with yourself and your pain. A place for you to allow yourself complete freedom to write whatever you want. No one else but you will ever see it, so you can swear and curse if you feel the need and write down everything that you feel about the person or the situation that is affecting you.
Wanna try it yourself? Take some time right now. Give it a shot … What do you have to lose?
Steps to Writing & Burning
1. Get yourself a journal (check out my latest creation) or just a plain notebook you feel comfortable tearing the pages out of. Find a quiet spot where you are free from distractions. Turn your cell phone off. Get away from your computer. This is your time to RELEASE AND HEAL.
2. You may want to begin with a statement, intention or prayer asking to help you in clearing any negative emotions you have within your mind, body or spirit. Is there someone in your life (alive or deceased) that you have negative feelings toward? It could be an ex-lover, parent, spouse or colleague – anybody that conjures up negative feelings. Perhaps it is an experience that you need to let go of to move forward in your life. Whatever it is, bring it to mind as you make this statement of release.
3. Begin to write. Visualize the energy of pain, anger, hate, jealousy … whatever it is you feel within … imagine it. Imagine your emotions flowing down your arm and into the pages of this journal. Imagine the paper storing all the emotional energy that has felt stuck in you. It is literally taking your pain from your physical body and transferring it onto the paper and into this journal.
4. Write until your hand stops. Don’t hold back. Don’t stop what comes to your mind. This letter is for you. No one else has to see it. Proper grammar, sentence structure and punctuation are not important. Don’t worry about editing your writing. Just keep going until you feel the pain subsiding and you feel as though your writing is complete. No need to go back and edit.
5. Ask if everything is clear. If yes, complete this exercise by writing down “My intention is that all of this is released energetically, emotionally, physically, and spiritually from me and from all generations past, present and future for the highest and greatest good of all.” If it isn’t feeling clear, keep writing.
6. Once complete, tear out the papers, and as you do, be aware of the energy you are feeling in your mind, heart and body. Notice how it feels to tear the pages out of the journal. Imagine you are CHOOSING now, to finally release them, once and for all.
7. Now it’s time to BURN them baby!! No need to ever read them again. Just let them go. Go outside and make sure you have a safe receptacle that you can drop a burning piece of paper into, checking that the area around it will also be safe from the flames. Hold the letter over the receptacle and light one corner with a match or lighter. (Of course, you could also use a fireplace, wood bring stove or campfire to burn your pages in as well.)
8. Make a final statement of release. Before you just throw the paper in the fire, think about an intention of release you may want to say aloud – a statement of completion or letting go. As the paper begins to burn, I like to say something to the effect of, “I now release burn and clear all of this negativity to the Universe and ask that it be transmuted and transformed into light.” As you watch the page or pages burn, let all that anger and hate go with it. See and feel the energy transmuting with the support of the fire.
9. When your pages are completely burned, I like to say a special “Thank you and so it is” to the Universe. Since everything and everyone in the Universe is energetically connected, every time you do an exercise like this you are not only healing yourself but having an effect on others as well.
10. Lastly, pick up your pretty journal now. Write down five things that you appreciate in this moment. They can be anything and do not have to be associated with the person or experience that you have just written about. We do this to bring in something positive to the space that was cleared so that the same energy that was held there previously doesn’t automatically get attracted back in and take up residence there again. By doing this, we consciously and intentionally replace that old negative energy with light and love and truth. THIS IS A HUGE piece of Writing & Burning that gets missed, so please don’t stop before this IMPORTANT step!
This is just one of many ways that journaling can be beneficial to you. I sure hope you will try it out. AND, if you want to be more consistent in your own journaling practice, I have a 14-day LIVE ONLINE journaling class starting on Thursday, March 1st -15th. Check it out here and join me LIVE on Facebook Daily!
Love & Light, SDJ♥