There’s power to writing by hand. The physical action reaches deep into yourself. It takes time, leaves you identifiable, and it’s personal and intimate. As Yale psychologist Paul Bloom said in an article in the New York Times, "With handwriting, the very act of putting it down forces you to focus on what’s important." Writing also physically engages the body in a way that typing does not (typing vs handwriting). More and more studies are being done since it was decided in 2013 by the Common Core State Standards that cursive writing will no longer be required to be taught to children. Studies show that handwriting and typing each activate distinct parts of the brain. And personally I've found that taking the time to handwrite allows space for a higher part of yourself to have a voice.
Recently I noticed a negative thought pattern while I was journaling and I obviously wanted to let go of it. It came across like a newspaper headline when I first wrote the phrase, all in capital letters and quite large on the page. But as I continued to process my feelings and thoughts around this, I literally began to write it smaller and smaller and smaller, unconsciously. It wasn't until I looked back over my entry that I noticed it shrinking.
This intrigued me, and I sat thinking of how I could possibly create a letting go exercise or ritual with this. I wanted to more fully and consciously let this negative label about myself go. As it began with writing I focused on that. I took a blank sheet of paper and wrote the negative phrase in huge letters across the top. Then, moving down the page, I consciously wrote it smaller and smaller till by the bottom it was nothing more than a dash.
Sometimes you cannot physically release an object that represents something you want to discard by, say, burning or dissolving or crushing as in the ritual The Patience Stone. This shrinking of words is a great alternative.
But as I sat with the diminishing of that phrase I realized that I wanted and needed to replace that “space” in my consciousness where it resided (for so very long), with something positive, an affirming phrase about myself, transforming the negative into the positive rather than just "letting it go." I got a new piece of paper. Starting as I did before with a large negative headline at the top, I began writing it smaller and smaller but worked to get to the dash by the middle of the page. Then from that, slowly and thoughtfully I "birthed" the affirmation. As I wrote, the words grew and grew until they filled the bottom of the page with capital letters.
Excitedly wanting to share this at my ritual gathering and remembering one of my original intentions for the gatherings — wanting participants to leave with something of a reminder of the experience — I took it even one step further, which will be explained below.
For the Ritual:
plain lined paper
metallic origami paper 9 3/4 sq.
Three parts to ritual:
Reflection – finding "headlines"
Writing – letting go and recreating
Folding – act of transformation
I first called everyone into sacred space and presence. After explaining a bit of the creation of the ritual and handing out plain paper, I let them chose their metallic origami paper and put on some music for a time of reflection.
"Center yourself in your body, and begin to notice your breath without adjusting it or forcing it in any way. There's nowhere else you need to be except right here, right now."
"Knowing you are in a safe space, begin to allow some fears or negative thoughts about yourself come to the surface. Use short phrases or adjectives to jot them down on your paper. These fears/negative thoughts will be used to create a "headline" about yourself that you will transform."
"not worthy … not sexy enough … not rich enough … won’t be taken care of … damaged … lonely … scared of getting old"
"Now take a look at the things you wrote and see what headline you can make out of them — what jumps to the surface."
"Lonely Old Man"
(Once it seems everyone has stopped writing and has their Headline)
"Take a deep breath and sit for a moment with this headline. Know this isn't the truth of yourself and it can be changed and transformed."
"Now begin to free associate adjectives for replacing this fear, transforming this way of thinking/being."
"Sexy…Healthy… Vibrant… Connected…. Partnered… In Community…Loved/Loving/Loveable"
"Now again, take a look at the things you wrote and see what headline you can make out of them — what jumps to the surface."
"Vibrant Healthy Husband"
"So now take a moment to let this affirming phrase resonate within you."
"Please take your origami paper and on the white/backside write the 'negative' headline across the top in all caps and really large letters letting it fill the top section all the way to the sides.You may have to write it a couple or few times.
"Then continue writing it, but with each line it begins to get smaller. The eventual effect is an upside-down pyramid with the point ending in the middle of the paper. As you write, see if you can imagine in your mind's eye that you are still fully writing it out even though it gets illegible. Imagine the tip of your pen working at the cellular level, diminishing this down to neutral essence until the very final line where it may be just a dash or spot."
(Time for writing)
'Now pause and take a deep breath. This old way of thinking has been neutralized. You’ve taken this down to the atomic level for composting to fuel it's transformation."
"Bring to mind your new affirming headline. Let it begin to fill your heart and then imagine a spark flash on that last dash or point signaling the beginning of something new coming into being — and you are going to bring it into your reality.
"Placing your pen in the space just below the dash or spot in the middle of the paper, again imagine your pen is a cellular instrument and it begins constructing the new phrase. It starts as nearly imperceptible waves or bumps and as you continue writing the words become clearer and bigger while working your way down the page until you fill it with the new headline at the bottom, the shape forming a pyramid."
(Time for writing)
"And now we move into the final stage of the transformation. We will be following the directions and design of JeremyShaferOrigami to create a four-sided diamond."
"As we do this, see it as a true act of creating, which it is. But again imagine you are working at a cellular, even quantum level of creation — using the recipe and the language of the physical universe, mathematics and geometry — and taking raw material to make a gem. You are taking what you want to release and transforming it into something precious and affirming.
"And the real magic happens in the last step — you literally have to breathe your diamond into being!"