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Nessa McCasey

Writing Our Hearts Out
Fall 2010

by Nessa McCasey, CPT

We are very pleased to welcome Nessa McCasey back to SoulfulLiving.com!  With each new issue, Nessa will offer a poem or short writing based on our magazine's theme and will provide techniques for creative expression that you can use to explore the topic yourself.

Mindfulness Practice as Writing/Drawing

What can take you to a place of peace when you need it? I will offer you a couple of possible options for this below. But first, can you recognize when you are in need of a peaceful mind, for even just a moment or two? Our world is so fast-paced these days that it takes a mindful practice for me to even recognize myself anymore. Sometimes I feel that I can’t remember what has happened; I can’t remember what I just speeded through. Writing and other expressive arts can capture events, I am happy to report. 

Recently, I have been playing with an art form called Zentangle (you can find out more about this at http://www.zentangle.com/index.php where the originators believe that “anything is possible... one stroke at a time.“ Since I’ve never been much more than a stick-person kind of an artist, I have appreciated this one-stroke approach to drawing. It is helping me to learn to draw, which is also really inspiring me to try more and more! 

The photo above is an example of my combining zentangle with writing. I created this on the airplane returning home in July from a week of poetry therapy workshops. Whenever I am coming home from this annual week of writing “retreat” as I tend to think of it, I need a summarizing writing exercise, creating a ritual to transition myself back into my home life. And then of course, I kept on creating more and more of these until now I have something of a summer of 2009 journal of just these sorts of zentangle writings. 

The little bubbles in the drawing were calling out to me for names, so one after the other, I started filling in the names of those who were part of the week of workshops. Places and events were also fodder. It was calming for me to do this on the airplane, it made the flight time pass quickly, and now I am also left with a piece of art that has special meaning for me, too. 

It’s probably my training as a poetry therapist that has led me to approach art in this manner. My art just doesn’t have to be perfect. My writing, especially when I am in the first draft part of writing new poem or article, is not up for editing yet. Of course, the essence of people should never be edited (especially in a red-pen, critical manner). As human beings, we are perfectly ourselves, and that’s what is necessary. Trying to be more kind to ourselves could be a great regular practice, something approaching mindfulness, in my way of thinking. Shutting down the chatter in my mind is usually about stopping the inner critic. 

So, if you are having trouble slowing down enough for a meditation practice or if you have the desire to combine your meditation with writing, you might try the zentangle process. 

Another idea for you to try, to help you slow down, is with this exercise below. You can make this into a meditation with peaceful imagery of your choice, such as an appropriate quiet place. And of course, modify the exercise to meet your own particular needs or interests.

Still Water

"We can make our minds so like still water that beings gather about us, that they may see, it may be, their own images, and so live for a moment with a clearer, perhaps even with a fiercer life because of our quiet". 
--- W.B. Yeat


What might your own mindfulness bring to you? Would you envision small birds or deer coming near? Try bringing up into your mind’s eye some place you remember as peaceful and then after you “rest” there for a while, write a description about it. You can write this out as a poem if you like or as a descriptive paragraph. What might result for you --- for Yeats, it is a fiercer life. Wow, what power we can take in for ourselves. Write out your own mindfulness “prescription” in this manner. And you can write it many times, many ways. This can become a mindfulness journey for you if you choose. 


I’m going to post this column on my own blog, too, where you can add your responses/writings as comments. Reading what others write might inspire you, as well. 


I believe in the value of writing, whether it is shared with others or not. Take good care of yourself, and be kind, as you write. We live in a harsh world and deserve to treat ourselves as kindly as possible. And hey, maybe we can even start to be kind to others, as well!! Who knows, we might just change the world!! 

with poetic care,

Nessa McCasey, CPT

© Copyright 2009 Nessa McCasey.  All Rights Reserved.

Read Nessa McCasey's Past Columns:

Summer 2009 - Conscious Life Change

Spring 2009 - Oneness is for Everyone

Winter 2007 - The Meaning of Life

Winter 2006 - Being Still and Still Moving the Pencil

July-Sept 2005 - Balance -- Creating a Map to Take You There

Oct - Dec 2004 - Letting Go and Moving Forward: Writing as a Map of Progress

Aug - Sept 2004 - Writer’s Block and Then… Moving Forward Again

April - May 2004 - Identifying Our Crossroads

January - February 2004 - Daring to Dream Out Loud

December 2003 - Joining Together with Our Words of Grace

November 2003 - Midlife Questioning: One Writer's Path to Learning

October 2003 - Can We Write (or Read) Our Way to Serenity?

Nessa McCasey
Nessa McCasey, CPT has been a former technical editor for NASA, street/performance poet in Denver, corporate writer, single mom, marketing communications specialist, and church music director. She has charted a new path for work and life in the profession of Poetry Therapy serving as Vice President of Membership for the National Association for Poetry Therapy (NAPT). She facilitates group and individual expressive writing sessions and presents poetry and creative writing workshops to jump-start others in their own powers of creative expression.

You can reach Nessa at: poetnessa@comcast.net or visit her website at www.writersofwrongs.com. 

Nessa's blog, http://web.me.com/wildridge/PoetryTherapy/Blog/Blog.html


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