I write to understand myself. I write to listen to the stories that live within the folds beneath my skin because in telling the stories there is listening. By listening, we bring our process into the light of awareness. Without this awareness and being able to see what lives behind the shadows, without calling it forth, we cannot transform it. With this awareness, we are empowered with the knowledge we need to start healing.
In my bodywork, healing happens when my hands are listening. The body holds physical, mental, emotional and spiritual stories, which I hear when someone is on the table before me. My fingers are antennas that reach out across the landscape of the body feeling for places that need moving, or holding, or filling. Writing is another way we allow these stories to be told. Writing offers awareness of how we take in and hold the world inside. It connects us to ourselves.
Writing can also be a tool through which we connect with others. We can share some part of ourselves with those who will listen. Our words don’t even have to try. They are our gift that reaches out and touches someone, bridging the gap of separation, by making them laugh, or nod in agreement, creating a healing effect. When we write together, it is helpful to have guidelines that build trust and keep us feeling safe, so that our unique voice is honored and our authenticity can shine. To build that safety, I rely upon the Amherst Writers and Artists (AWA) method, which I first encountered with Peggy Simmons of Green Windows. It is based on radical affirmations, such as “a writer is someone who writes” and the guiding principles of AWA create equality while protecting the author.
The first time I wrote in a space held by the AWA method I saw in myself and others a fury of creative genius. I see it each week I write with the elders at St. Mary’s Homeless Shelter in West Oakland, many of whom have had interrupted education though many are also well educated. And I see the tender way this writing process brings them together in something other than their homelessness. Through this process, we create a bridge where the memoirist and the science fiction author and the first time writer can come together. And this, a coming together, is healing.
Click below to learn more about Jenna's coming workshop on Apr 29 (Saturday) from 3-6pm.