The Yoga of Morning Pages
Buckle up. The bus is about to jump the curb.
Morning pages, as popularized by Julia Cameron in “The Artist’s Way,” are for brain letting, getting out what holds us back — doubts, goals, joys, fears — at the beginning of our day. They are a way of engaging with our better selves creatively, spontaneously and freely.
For the first few months I wrote morning pages, I took Cameron’s suggestion of free association to heart. And I scrawled wildly, illegibly. I couldn’t read or remember what I wrote only seconds after I wrote it.
One day, I felt like the thoughts I was having would be worth being able to come back to. I’ve written legibly since. But recently I noticed I’ve been losing my energy, my sense of purpose with the pages, feeling like they have become a broken record.
I don’t want to use the pages for negative venting, or for chronicling events of the previous day. I can only write so much about positive visions I have and projects I’m excited to be working on.
Then I realized: The meditative and freeing quality of morning pages lies in true free-association writing, not the slow-wading approach that allows my mind to keep its grip on the bus’ steering wheel.
In freely ripping across the page in a wash of blue ink, I’m taking the monkey mind out of the driver’s seat. I’m taking back the driver’s seat and stepping on the gas pedal, navigating through my best self, the unburdened one that creates in joy and loves itself as-is.
That monkey mind, though. He’s coming after me. He is my censor, the clawing voice in myself that loathes my contentedness, despises who I really am and wants to tear that down. He wants that steering wheel back.
So I write morning pages furiously, jumping curbs and free wheeling at a pace that keeps the monkey off balance. He can’t stay on his feet. The bus is rockin’ and racin’.
Morning pages need only run three pages deep. It’s a daily race to that finish line. It’s purposeful, self-compassionate me versus the micro-managing, negativity-wallowing monkey mind.
If I just keep the accelerator down, letting the flow go without worry about what comes out on the page, I can outrace the mind. I can reach the day’s morning pages finish line with a buzzing sense of freedom and creativity.
And with that, we’ve landed at the yoga of morning pages: to occupy the monkey mind with a task while we freely carry on with our true, joyful self.
Yoga uses mantras or focus on breath, for example, to occupy the frenetic mind that otherwise looks to keep us off-center.
The more we distract the distraction that is our thinking mind, the more space we create for our authentic self, the one that is positive, loving, creative, caring, energetic.
Morning pages are not about right or wrong in how they are done. But in my experience, there is a time to capture thoughts and ideas, and a time to jump the curb.