Writing from the Deeper Self

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Writing from the Deeper Self

The Intimate Fruits of a Writing Retreat

Coming into the Wealth of Inner Being

By Naomi Rose | Updated November 12, 2018

Recently, I was blessed to be given space to write in a retreat-like way for three days. One of my friends, a spiritual teacher, has a little hut in her back yard, designed to house spiritual retreatants. One day, in the spirit of asking for the fulfillment of my heart's desires, I inquired whether I might combine writing with spiritual practices, and thereby have a "writing retreat." My friend did me one better: "Why not come two times," she offered. "Once to write, and another to do a spiritual retreat. No charge for the writing retreat."

Since I was writing about an interior experience of wealth for my book MotherWealth ~ wealth of Being, which, when made room for, naturally translates into outer wealth, as well ~ I quickly realized that this was a very abundant offer indeed. Gratefully, I accepted; and soon thereafter, I showed up in front of her house, unpacking from my station wagon my computer, my typewriter (yes, yes, it's old-fashioned; but I grew up with typewriters, and I enjoy the feel of it; it's like playing the piano), my assorted papers already written and half-written, notebooks, blank paper, a CD player-with-earphones, CDs, my dulcimer, spiritually inspiring books, and food to last 3 days. (Oh yes; clothes too, though they seemed the least part of my necessities.)

I arrived in my friend's backyard on a Saturday early afternoon. She and her husband were away until the next day. I unpacked my equipment inside the hut, as neatly as I could, then walked out into the secluded, pristine territory of her back yard. I was still aware of the freeway I'd just traveled, the light noise of the traffic in the street; but my intent to turn inward had an increasingly quieting effect. And soon ~ as I ate my lunch at the outdoor table, looking across at the brilliant red roses and up into the embracing, leafy branches of the trees ~ I was no longer in transit. I was there.

The late-September sun shone down on my arms, warming them and attuning me to the visible, audible, palpable wealth of nature around me and in me. This sweet settling in, as I lay in the hammock strung between two strong trees, eased the staccato rhythms of my worrying mind, and reminded my breath of its connection with the ocean. The more "here" I was, the deeper my awareness increased of how good it was to be right here, and the more I realized ~ palpably, in my skin, in my cells ~ that my presence to nature was what was making the difference. That in my stillness and appreciation, I knew how much was being offered; and I was present to receive it.

Had I been at home and set myself the task of writing for a certain period of time, trying to trip-wire myself into an inspired state, I would have lit a candle, burned some fragrant incense, said some prayers, and tried to clear the decks. But here, it all came as a gift, on its own. Even lying in the hammock, listening to the pitch and number of syllables in the calls of the local birds, suddenly into my awareness came a line for my book. It came, and it repeated itself, and it repeated itself again, and again, knocking and saying, "Get up, now's the moment, write me down!"

Relaxed and yet galvanized, I recognized a gift when it reached for me. I rolled out of the hammock (I had been aching for a hammock earlier in the busy week) and ran to the hut. Quickly setting up my typewriter, swiveling the chair into place, ratcheting the blank typing paper into the back of the machine, I typed that one line. And when it was there in print in front of me, then more came, and more.

I wrote with that kind of beautiful absorption which characterizes an inspired state, knowing nothing of time, caring for nothing but exactly what I was doing, neither critical nor full of forethought, just being present with what was inside me. And when I was done, I was thankful, and breathing differently, as if my very spirit had been well exercised.

And the pages on the table ~ twelve of them ~ seemed not only not an effort, but a gift: both to and from me. I was so happy and full, that I did not push anything. I knew when to stop ~ I knew when I needed stillness, quiet, replenishment (by food, water, light, air, a mini-walk barefoot on the still-green grass). I trusted that more writing, in the right time, would come.

And it did. In the three days I spent there, I wrote over 40 good pages. Not perfect pages ~ they would still need revision ~ but good, substantial, real: the kind of writing that, when I read it later, would speak to me as freshly as if someone else had written it, a message to my ordinary consciousness from my deeper Self.

A retreat is a precious thing: a time ~ even with all the attendant nervousness beforehand ~ to really listen inside. After the first day of writing, I no longer thought about the outer world; I no longer noticed the sounds of passing cars out in the street. My inner world was so expanded, my heartbeat so present, that mostly what I felt was joy in being able to hear so closely what was within me. That writing was a significant part of this only added to that intimacy. For if the inner listening is hearing what God wants to tell us when we are still inside, then the writing from within such a place is what allows God to discover who God is, through us.

There is something, for me, about writing in such a protected space that feels both ancient and new at the same time. The ancient part is the silence that comes with refraining from speech while writing. I believe it taps into older knowings within us, especially soul and spiritual knowings that bring forth certain memories over others, and link previously disparate experiences in a surprisingly meaningful tapestry of being. The new part is that in this divine dialogue, something never-before existent gets said, gets born ~ to my surprise and frequent great joy. And perhaps to God's, as well.

We don't all have three days to ourselves in an outer protected space. But that inner space is really where the inspired, authentic writing takes place. It certainly helped me to have a loving and generous friend invite me into her outer space; I walked into it already feeling cherished. But having tasted that, my task now is to cherish myself, and to cherish the limitless depths of being and knowing available to me through writing with an intentional inward focus.

The truth is that everything we need is already inside us. The world, which we need, and which needs us, can nevertheless take us so easily away from ourselves. When all of us is available ~ our concentration, our commitment, our heart, our mind, our instincts ~ in one place, it's not difficult to write fluidly, deeply, authentically, and beautifully. True, there are skills that are useful to have in your toolkit: a way with words, a wish to explore, a willingness to dig as well as soar, an ability to put the critical voice on the shelf so you can write without interruption. But even just to be all-there and see what wants to show itself when you make full room is enough to bring forth (even roughly, at first) proof of your magnificence, your healing, and your gift to life and your readers-to-come.

As the weather gets colder and the days grow shorter, coming inside ourselves is a more natural phenomenon. This fall, and later on in the winter, may you have some retreat time within yourself to write ~ whether that book you've been dreaming of, or something shorter ~ so that you get to be Written by the ineffable Presence within you, as well.

©2008 Naomi Rose. All rights reserved.

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