Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Writing Down Your Soul

There are certain books you discover that speak to you deeply and change your life.  This has happened to me on three occasions.  First, about ten years ago when I discovered God is at Eye Level: Photography as a Healing Art  by Jan Phillips.  Then about seven years ago when I discovered SoulCollage® by Seena Frost.  And now it has happened to me in the form of the book Writing Down Your Soul by Janet Conner.

I discovered the Writing Down Your Soul website where I was able to download the first chapter of the book for free and view videos about the deep soul writing process.  After reading the first chapter I immediately ordered the book. Reading it felt like quenching a deep thirst.  I think the world would change if we all used the deep writing process to connect to our inner wisdom.  This combined with my SoulCollage® process makes me feel like I have access to divine guidance. And it is as simple as sitting, writing and listening.

Then I registered for Janet's online teleclass. I loved Janet's authenticity and energy.  She shared so many of her personal experiences which brought the process to life.  I really wanted to share her deep soul writing process with others as it is a simple way to make a huge difference to your life.  This led to me ask Janet if I could interview her on my blog and I am excited to share her responses to my questions. Her answers really helped clarify some questions I had about "doing the process right".

Catherine:  Janet, how has your Writing Down Your Soul process changed your life and how might it change mine or the life of someone reading this interview?

Janet:  Catherine, the full answer to that question would take up a mile of your blog space!  The succinct answer is: COMPLETELY.  Deep soul writing has changed my life completely.  I don't even feel like I am the person I was before I picked up a pen.  Since I started soul writing in 1997, my career has changed dramatically from human resource consultant to published author-teacher-speaker.  My spiritual life has completely changed.  My relationship with God has changed.  My purpose has changed.  Pre-deep soul writing I didn't know why I was here;  I just got up and went to work because I thought I had to.  Now I am crystal clear about my divine purpose and I live it every single day.  My prayer life has changed.  But the most important thing that has changed is  my sense of trust. I trust this life now.  I trust that I am safe, guided, loved, and protected.  I trust that I am not alone. No, let me amend that. I KNOW that I am not alone.  And once you know that and you know that you know that, then life suddenly feels safe and even delicious.
Catherine:  I’ve always written in a journal, but felt I had to write neatly and slowly.  In Writing Down Your Soul you recommend writing fast.  Why is this?

Janet:   In deep soul writing, the last thing you want to do is write slowly and neatly. When you do that you’re giving way too much room on the page to all the old judgmental, critical voices you’ve built up in your head over the years—people like parents, old lovers, nasty bosses….anyone who told you life was hard, or you weren’t going to make it, or you weren’t good enough. It turns out that science can demonstrate that those old programs are real. They are actual neural pathways in your brain! (Who knew!) So when you write fast you get out in front of those old “tapes,” and give something new and wise and loving the opportunity to break through—what I call The Voice.

Catherine:   Is it good enough for me to just write in a journal whenever I feel the need, or is there a specific process that makes the practice of Writing Down Your Soul more powerful than simply writing in a journal?

Janet:    The scientific evidence shows that it takes a minimum of 30 days to build a new habit and the new neural pathway in your brain that supports that habit. So if you want the full benefits of deep soul writing (or any other spiritual practice or new habit in your life) show up every day for thirty days. Now, having said that, for heaven’s sake, don’t beat yourself up if guests come into town, or you have to work around the clock on an all-important contract, or some other time-consuming event pushes soul writing off your schedule for a day or two. Just come back to the practice. But at the outset make a commitment to write everyday. If you simply say, “I’ll get to it when I can,” you won’t. Not because you don’t want to; but because those old neural pathways are doing everything they can to push you away from this life-changing practice.

Catherine:   Do I have to write for a specific amount of time for the Writing Down Your Soul process to work?

Janet:   There is no magic amount of time. When I first started writing at the soul level, I was in the throes of a terrifying divorce and had LOTS to talk over with, “Dear God,” my divine Voice. So I wrote a lot. I’m sure there were days when I wrote for a couple of hours. Today, I probably write ten or fifteen minutes on average. When I have something big to talk over, I’ll drive ten minutes to my favorite sacred writing spot, St Michael’s Shrine in Tarpon Springs. I get major downloads on new programs and books sitting at St Michael’s. When I’m there, I write for a half hour or more. I think in the end, the individual soul writer knows on some level when to stop writing. It might be a feeling of completion, or a phrase might come through that indicates the writing session is over. For me, I know it’s time to stop when “TYG TYG TYG” comes through. That’s speed writing for “Thank you God, Thank you God, Thank you, God”.

Catherine:   And finally, I’ve noticed that your favorite poet is Hafiz as translated by Daniel Ladinsky.  Why do you find these poems so powerful and what is your very favorite Hafiz poem?

Janet:   A friend gave me a copy of Daniel Ladinsky’s Love Poems from God a few months before I started writing my book. Love Poems from God is a smorgasbord of 12 mystical poets from many centuries and traditions. I fell in love with it. And somehow it seemed that a few lines from a mystic were always the perfect illustration of a point I was trying to make in my book. Meister Eckhart, for example, has the PERFECT welcome to Writing Down Your Soul: “They can be a great help—words. They can become Spirit’s hands and lift and caress you.” THAT is the perfect description of the core truth of my book.

When my manuscript was complete, I asked for permission to quote from Daniel’s book. When he learned what Writing Down Your Soul was about, he not only gave me permission, he said I had to become best friends with Hafiz. And he sent me three books of Hafiz poetry: I Heard God Laughing, The Subject Tonight is Love, and The Gift. Oh boy, was Daniel ever right! From the moment I opened those books, Hafiz moved in! He’s now my best friend. I turn to him every time I teach, opening and closing my classes with words from Hafiz.

But a favorite???!! Oh, that’s SO hard. I love so many. But here’s one I read to everyone in my workshops just as they’re picking up a pen for the first time. I say, imagine the Voice sitting in front of you, smiling, and saying:
As soon as you opened your mouth
And I heard your soft

I knew we would be

The first time, dear pilgrim, I heard
You laugh,

I knew it would not take me long
To turn you back into

That takes your breath away, doesn’t it! It sounds so big, so amazing, but actually that’s exactly what deep soul writing and all profound spiritual practices do—they connect us with the truth of who we really are, divine beings. 

Catherine:  Janet, thank you so much for sharing so much of this amazing process.  I think deep soul writing will be something that I will always do as it feels like a very magical process of self-discovery and a deep way to access your inner wisdom.

(Note: Janet has a wonderful newsletter that always inspires me)


Unknown said...

Thank You Ladies!!!!!!!!Love this,Love the Book,Love the process we share together, Ah Heck, I just love You Guys Too, heehe........Susan

Cheryl Finley said...

Catherine...Thank you so much for this inspiring interview! I too am a Soul Journaler, and I'm always open to additional ways to deepen this relationship. I will look into the book. Also, I thoroughly appreciated your recent teleclass with Anne Marie on SoulCollage as prayer.