Transformative writing is a quest to broaden and expand what can be known, felt, and lived.
Each one of us is an artist of life. All we can truly lay claim is our own experience of being here. Transformative writing exists where the practical realities of our situations and circumstances in life come into contact with our desire to live a life worth living.
The art of transformative writing is a creative act of restoration, self-renewal, and unfolding. It is a sacred ritual that teaches us to let go of that which binds and causes distress so that we can grant ourselves the necessary freedom to become the person we were meant to be.
Life is not always easy or fair. We all become wounded by life to varying degrees. These wounds are of body, mind, and spirit.
The modern lifestyle is intense, impatient, and unrelenting. Stress has become a natural consequence of trying to survive in the competitive arena of our materialistic addictions. Stress disorders, anxiety, and depression are a natural and normal consequence of our way of life.
A trauma is a deeply disturbing experience in life that impairs our wellbeing. The immediate aftermath of a traumatic event imposes a state of shock. It is not uncommon for people to deny and inhibit recognition and acceptance of the traumatic event. Rumination and an obsession with busyness are often symptoms of denial.
Over time, the traumatic wound festers and intensifies. In cases of severe trauma, flashbacks force the individual to “relive” the event. This impairs the well-being of body, mind, and spirit. The body’s immunity is weakened and we become more susceptible to illness. Our emotions become destabilized causing our interactions in the world to become turbulent and inconsistent. And our sense of spiritual belonging is confused and unstable.
In other words, our wounds in life have the potential to conjure a confluence of physical, mental, and spiritual suffering.
- Physical wounds: Traumatic life events place significant stress on our physiology. Persistent, unresolved stress can have a negative impact on the proper functioning of the body. Over the long-term, stress threatens our physical resilience.
- Mental wounds: These wounds can be symbolized as a kind of demon within that destabilizes our thoughts, feelings, and emotions. Our thinking patterns become disjointed and adverse. Our moods become volatile and capricious. And our behaviors become nervous and fearful.
- Spiritual wounds: A spiritual wound severs us from our deepest sense of belonging. In the midst of our material comforts, we feel homeless, exiled, and abandoned. In its most catastrophic form, our spiritual wounds can thrust us into the midst of a dark night of the soul.
Transformative writing is a form of artistry that requires us to lean into our physical, mental, and spiritual wounds in order to clarify their meaning in life. As we witness our own situations and circumstances as they emerge on the page, we interact with them as if we were sculptors working with clay to create something of enduring and aesthetic value. Creativity, imagination, and improvisation are the agents of transformation.
Sadly, human presence on the planet has become a profoundly destructive force. This is an inconvenient and depressing truth from which there is no retreat. As we inflict wounds in the Earth, we simultaneously wound ourselves in body, mind, and spirit.
A basic purpose of transformative writing is to cultivate well-being for self and the world at precisely the same time.
Ecopsychology recognises what earth-based cultures have known for ages; the earth is an innate source of psychological healing and resilience. To spend time in nature is to foster our own physical, mental, and spiritual well-being.
Transformative writing requires a deep sense of connection and belonging to nature. The natural world has restorative properties that help to alleviate our suffering as well as inspire our imagination. The ecology of the Earth is fundamentally transformative.
At its best, transformative writing is a sacred pilgrimage into the innate restorative and transformative dynamics that animate the natural world.
A Deep Conversation
Transformative writing is an attempt to have a deep conversation with existence.
A great deal of writing today has been incarcerated by an economic motive. Marketing becomes thinly veiled deception; advertising presents as mindless seduction. Awash in the neon glow of economic servitude, writing is often reduced to mere influence.
Written language is also a raw material for creating an imaginative space imbued with potential. The transformative writer thrives where authenticity, felt-meaning, and personal artistry find their way on to the blank page.
The art of transformative writing is grounded in three essential qualities.
- Authenticity is the realm of personal context, genuine experience, and becoming the person we were meant to be. To write authentically is to explore the fertile underlying ground of our identity, purpose, and presence in the world. The evidence we seek is waiting to be discovered within the confluence of our own life experiences.
- Felt-meaning refers to the unity and integrated intelligence of body, mind, and spirit. A thought is not disembodied and abstract; feelings and sensations within the body are a critical dimension of intelligence. The spiritual dimension of intelligence is the intuitive calling toward something greater than ourselves.
- Personal Artistry is the realm of creativity, adventure, and discovery. A transformative writer risks themselves on the terrain of their own direct experience. We begin to release our worn-out assumptions and unexamined beliefs. Improvisation is focused on the realm of our identity. Imagination becomes our primary source of possibility and hope.
Transformative writing invites us to explore new forms of consciousness. It invites us to consider new and often extraordinary possibilities for living. It challenges us to become more fully human and humane.
Finally, transformative writing inspires connection and belonging to a mystery too great for our imagination to grasp.
Toward a New Consciousness
We all need to help each other.
We are all living in a difficult period of time. For many people, modern society has become a source of exhaustion, frustration, and disappointment; mental distress, anxiety, and depression are commonplace. It seems that the daily news has been reduced to a cascade of corporate malfeasance, political manipulation, social austerity, ideological intolerance, and the frightening emergence of virulent oligarchies. Our hubris is a versatile demon.
We are all in this together. We all have one life to live. We all have only one planet to live on.
The transformative writer seeks a broad and expansive understanding of the world and their place in it. In this sense, the writer is a transformative language artist who seeks creative engagement with individual and collective sources of darkness with a firm intention to expand consciousness through the relentless pursuit of essential qualities including tolerance, equality, generosity, gratitude, and humility.
In this sense, transformative writing is a spiritual endeavor that pursues the outrageous ideal of contributing to the emergence of a new consciousness that helps us to live with a greater sense of integrity, harmony, and equanimity.
Transformative Writing Series
- Transformative Writing 1: The Art of Transformative Writing
- Transformative Writing 2: How Does Writing Become Transformative?
- Transformative Writing 3: Harvesting Emotional Energy on Paper
- Transformative Writing 4: The Secret Life of Words
- Transformative Writing 5: Reading
- Transformative Writing 6: The Healing Power of Expressing Emotions
- Transformative Writing 7: Writing Away the Demons