Writing from the Deeper Self
By Naomi Rose | Updated November 15, 2018
There is something about writing that seeks its own healing ~ rather than, say, seeking to explain or persuade ~ that often tends to find its deepest expression in a "spiral pattern." We all know what a spiral looks like: a curved line that begins at the center and gradually winds its way outward around that center; or we could also see it as a curved line that begins on the periphery, following its way closer and closer, smaller and smaller, until it reaches the center. Either way, it looks just the same to the eye; but to the artist drawing that spiral ~ or to the writer writing into it ~ it makes a difference where you begin the spiral from.
The spiral is both a wonder of nature and a symbol of the Goddess. It does not start and stop in a linear, gridded way, but emerges from the beginningless place of Being and winds upward and outward, allowing (as with a spiral staircase) glimpses of the very same territory with each turn and rise of the spiral, but each time from a different perspective. So one could look at, for example, a particularly trying time in one's adolescent years from the spiral-height of middle age, and recognize not only certain persisting patterns but also a concomitant deepening within that allows a clearer, more compassionate perspective to arise. Spirals, when seen vertically, repeat, but not exactly: offer themes and variations, as well as the opportunity to spiral out into something entirely new and wondrous, something as amazing in our own lives as a galaxy is to the larger cosmos. And even if, by the law of spiraling, they will at some point arc back on a return loop and show us what is still with us from earlier times and awareness, they also open up a very real possibility of moving into previously unknown territory and taking the whole of us with it.
Seashells, galaxies, ear whorls, snail shells, the growth pattern of a baby's hair, the unique prints of our fingertips ~ if Nature can inscribe Her signature on life in this way, then why not also on our ability to heal and find something indelible of ourselves through the spiraling writing of our seeking?
As those of you who have followed my articles on Writing from the Deeper Self know, I am a big proponent of seeking through writing: of beginning with a burning desire to be present to healing, or of a question, or simply the desire to be present to what comes. After many years of being taught to write the other way (completely prepared, outline in hand, points marshaled and ready to line up and explain), I have come to the conclusion that this time-honored way of writing leaves much out ~ specifically, the inner being of the person who is doing the writing. And so writing is one place where I become courageous and inherently trusting (despite my own arising doubts and fears, at times): trusting that if I come close to what I do not yet know, if I wade barefoot in its waters lapping the shore, something in those waters ~ some meaningful attraction between my land self and my water self ~ will open up understandings and images, even internal music, that I could never have gotten close to by planning things all out ahead of time.
Recently, I was at my studio, where I see clients and often do the business of book development and publishing; and a potent, palpable desire arose in me to make this space available for writing, again. It was not the thought, "It's been a while, I really should be writing on my book" (though that whispered in the background, too); it was actually a yearning to heal something that had been with me for many years. And this yearning ~ and perhaps, the healing from the other shore ~ called me to the writing.
So I lit a candle, and I lit some incense, and I cleared off a space on the work table in my studio. I felt the outer-directedness of my thoughts and consciousness taking me away from concerted inner attention, and I gathered them back in, until all of me was available for writing. And so a sanctuary was made.
It was not so much the candle and the incense that made this space, often used for more outer-directed pursuits, a sanctuary. It was the total concentration inside me. It was the inner quiet, that feeling of being poised on the lip of something extraordinary, waiting to see what would be revealed. That this "something extraordinary" would have to be within me was clear: for there was no one and nothing else present, only a rather tremulous receptivity to something inside that was calling me to write it, to find it by writing. It was that "something" that magnetized my attentions, that told me there was to be found in this attentive, searching silence something I was seeking for my healing and my completion.
I did not know what it was. I had, only, a hope. And the form this hope took was to trust whatever came to consciousness in me, and to write into it. Not to judge; not to edit (yet); not to perform; not to turn away; simply to be there, allowing my heart to take the lead, and to bring to the surface of my awareness enough of a thread to see its color, and to tug on it gently so as to make the interwoven threads revealing the healing dimensions of that story visible.
What I was writing was a sequel to a book I had written over a decade ago called MotherWealth: The Feminine Path to Money. One day several years before, I had taken this book out of the closet and re-read it; and, expecting to dismiss it as an earlier, dimmer understanding, I was instead startled to realize that still it had much to teach me in present time. "I want to live like that!" I exclaimed, touched that a period of such life-disassembly as had occasioned the writing of MotherWealth had produced something timeless and universal. And so I began writing a sequel called Living in MotherWealth.
I have been writing this sequel for some years; have gone through its initial, awkward phases; watched it tell me, "No, this is not who I am" and shift direction entirely, offering me the option to come with it; which I have. Shelved were my files upon files of outlines, topics to be filled in. The book itself wanted to live, to breathe its words into being.
Since much of the premise of Living in MotherWealth is that when we are connected to our true nature, we are provided for ~ and that it is living outside our true nature, in our adapted-self guises, that causes us to think our survival and well being depend entirely on our own (often forced) efforts ~ the writing itself had led me to conclude that it is our identification with the particulars of our conditioning, which we then generalize, that causes us to feel impoverished. That if we could open to our true nature, we would experience the limitless wealth of Being ~ a consciousness that would be met from outside as the provision of whatever we need, as a loving mother seeks to know what her beloved child needs, and to give it freely.
Yet despite the subject of my book-in-progress, like many others in our time, I was struggling financially. A double angst: for not only did I need more money, but I also did not want the money to come to me in the usual way, through my habitual overexertions and self-pressurings. I wanted to live in MotherWealth, live in the ease that being true to my real nature would support me. For that to happen, I sensed I would need to let go of conventional ideas about money and wealth, and revisit some of the earlier spirals of my life, to see what had gotten stuck there and what healings might arise from the looking.
And so as I sat at the computer in my studio, a memory rose up in my heart. And I followed it, in writing, to see where it would lead, hoping I would be healed by what I found; released from the hold of some conditioning that, as yet, I believed too fully to let go of.
This was the memory:
When I was in high school in New York City, a "cool" school for art and music students, I was not free to hang out with my fellow students outside the building after school, but had to take the subway home to take care of my younger sister, because both my parents worked. This was not in any way a repressed memory; I'd always recalled it. It had, in fact, become an internal symbol of my inability to live a wholly joyful, spontaneous life through the years. High school was long gone, no babysitting was still needed; and yet a line had been drawn so well (if unintentionally) around me that I often still operated as if I could not just hang out with my friends and potential friends. I had to go home and ~ work.
I let the memory expand within me, and I wrote into that. I wrote with complete full-heartedness, eager to find the story and tell it to myself. This enabled me to look at the experience and to inhabit it from within, so that the details were as vivid as if happening right now, yet offering an arc of understanding not possible at the time.
"When I was in high school," I wrote, " and I started young, at the age of thirteen, so that I was but sixteen when I graduated I had to come home directly afterwards to take care of my younger sister. My parents both worked, and the apartment in the building with the lobby and the elevator was empty of adults, and so it was left to me to be the adult. This meant that after classes, in the Gothic-like building where my high school took place, a seven-story stone edifice complete with a tower and gargoyles, while my schoolmates were standing outside chatting with each other and smoking cigarettes, I had to walk past them down the hundred-twenty-five steps to the street, and from there take the subway home. There was a feeling of being excluded, as I walked past people of my own age and generation to assume a role befitting my parents' generation; as if I could not stop the work of school, the work of home, to relax, afterwards, laugh, complain, join forces with people my own age."
As I wrote into the hope for healing, the hope that giving voice to all this could free me from what was not real that still clung to me and constricted my options for joy, I noticed that I kept circling round that scene of having to pass by my friends and go home. It came up again after the initial mention, when describing sitting at home with my sister and watching the movie-on-TV together, "One Touch of Venus," with the beauteous Ava Gardner as the statue of Venus come to life at night in a department store, while the dazed clerk, Robert Walker, could not believe his eyes or his luck. It was no literary device, this circling round, this spiraling repetition: it was a wish (perhaps not a conscious one) to touch base, to see if what I had written in between the last mention of this pivotal event of not being able to belong to the peer world of my schoolmates and the current mention shed any light on the situation, gave it breathing room.
"This was my refuge, my compensation for leaving my peers, untalked-to, unsmoked-with, unimagining adventures with, the green-shoot sprees of youth together: watching a mortal fall in love with a Goddess, again and again, moving each time from his prosaic, obedient life into the enchanted world of love with a celestial being, and then having, at the end, only the secret memory of that union, able to share it with no one who might believe him."
Could this movement into describing the longing for a deeper love, a higher life, that union of human and divine in the movie and what it touched off in me then (and now) have been pre-planned and inserted into an outline? No, it was a revelation that came directly out of what I had so intimately and longingly described: that in having to relinquish the small talk and the belonging to the world of my peers, I brought that hungry heart into my absent parents' bedroom, where the black-and-white TV was, where my sister and I ate the tuna sandwiches on white bread I had made us, the recently pudded chocolate pudding, and in our linking loneliness watched this movie about the union of our limited, mortal self and the divinity of love. Against a beautiful musical background provided by Kurt Weill, the department-store clerk wooed Venus, an alabaster statue come to life only at night, when the store was empty and closed to the ordinary world.
Circling back to my adolescent duty and loss, walking past the other students to take the subway home, my writing became a guide in itself, casting a searchlight ahead of me just far enough to illuminate the next thing. Along the way were subjects that also lived in my memory but had never till now been connected to this particular theme before. For example, what it was like to make an etching plate, engraving fine lines into a metal sheet covered with an asphalt-like ground, and then later on deciding you didn't want all those lines and needed to burnish them out. The connection between the extremely concrete, detailed process of making an etching and then un-making that etching paralleled and illuminated my situation in a way that no conceptual exploration in itself could have. Because that was exactly what I was wanting to do: recognize the etching that had been engraved into my sense of who I was and was not, what was and was not possible for me, and remake it; burnish out some lines, and keep those that I found still beautiful.
And again, like a heartbeat, the writing spiraled around that pivotal experience of being locked out of youth because of the obligations required by an older generation:
"This was a long time ago, now. Yet it remains as vivid and fresh as then, and remains in memory because the impression etched by this on my soul was that my life was not to be filled with playing and belonging; it was to be filled with duty, and obligation, and caring for others while I myself was still young. This memory of passing by my schoolmates, who were my own age, and trudging down the hundred-twenty-five steps to the subway to go home and take care of my younger sister by making her tuna sandwiches and hamburgers and cooled, bubbled chocolate pudding, and be compensated for an hour and a half in imagination, then turn the TV off and become, in effect, the department-store clerk, wondering if that mutual love had even happened, has stayed with me all this time."
It is said that all the ages we have been are still in us; that all the experiences we have had are still available to us; that nothing is lost, only covered over by other things more immediate and pressing. I had the sense that if I could revisit that pivotal, constricting time with an open heart and the intention to unlock its grip through my writing, healing might come to be.
And so it was. When I was done writing, I felt I had arrived at some larger, more expanded place inside; that what had happened in the past had still happened, but now I could hold it in a much larger context, and could open to something new because I was more intimately acquainted with what I had experienced, the pain and even beauty of such longing as now brought me closer to myself.
The next day, a Saturday, I went into a sanctuary in nature right in the heart of the city where I live: a creek bordered by trees and wild other growings. And I was so incredibly present to myself and to the living nature all around me that there was nothing I was missing, nothing I was being kept out of. Everything was here, in this moment, right now. The rocks, the music of the creek, the trees letting in light through their green latticework of leaves; and me, standing on the earth a part of all this life, wealthy as a queen.
Was it because my conclusion, at the end of the writing, was that had I been free to be young when I was chronologically young, free to stand outside my school with my friends and become more and more sophisticated in my efforts to belong, what I really would have wanted was nature and my own nature? Or was it because, allowing the writing to spiral into its own nature, a gift of my feeling heart was returned to me, and this was what gave me the joy of being present in nature?
Writing into the spiral can heal, in a most touching, tender way. The next time you feel empty or yearning, or something calls you to write it even though you don't know what "it" is, you might remember the spiral. Just start writing where you are, and see what opens up out of what you write (as you are vividly, intimately present with it). See what the writing is spiraling around: what is the center, where do the arcs go? You may enjoy it; and you will find that you are being written on, as surely as the other way around.
©2010 Naomi Rose. All rights reserved.
Naomi Rose, Book Developer and Writing Coach, has successfully used her "Writing from the Deeper Self" approach to help people with an inner-directed focus write the books of their hearts. ...