Journaling Techniques: Writing on the Stream of Consciousness

by Amber Lea Starfire on February 18, 2013

Water Dance Image

Stream of Consciousness Writing begins with a simple breath meditation, after which you write associatively, allowing your words to meander along connected images, feelings, and memories. It’s not a timed process and is even less structured than freewriting,  facilitating a kind of subconscious  “mind dump” onto the page. In fact, it’s best to do Stream of Consciousness Writing when you’re not under the pressure of an immediate deadline.

The purpose of the Breath Meditation is to help you slow down, center in your physical body, and focus on the task of writing. (Instructions for the breath meditation are below the fold.)

You may have a topic in mind before you begin, or you may choose to let a topic emerge while you are meditating.

Guidelines

  • Write by hand. If you’re used to writing on the computer, like I am, you may initially feel some resistance to this guideline. Handwriting slows us down, helps us maintain a meditative frame of mind, and keeps the intuitive, subconscious part of our brain engaged. Keyboarding, on the other hand, lends itself to linear thinking.
  • Be patient with yourself and don’t expect any great insights or “ah-ha” moments right away. This type of writing takes some practice.
  • Allow your thoughts to go where they will. For example, if you are writing about the time you fell into a creek as a child, and you begin writing with an image of a floating branch, and the image of the floating branch stirs a memory of the time you went camping with Uncle Henry, allow yourself to write about the camping experience, and so on.

Instructions for Breath Meditation

I’m providing the following instructions for those who are not already familiar and comfortable with meditating on the breath. If you have a method you prefer to use, please feel free to use it. Read the instructions all the way through before proceeding.

  1. If you wish, put on some quiet, gentle classical or instrumental (not vocal) music.
  2. Sit, not lie, in a comfortable position and close your eyes.
  3. Take a deep breath, hold it … then release. As you release your breath feel your feet and toes relax.
  4. Take another deep breath, hold it, and release, this time, feeling your calves relax.
  5. Continue to take deep, cleansing, releasing breaths, working your way up the body.
  6. Feel your knees, thighs, hamstrings, buttocks, low back, upper back, shoulders, arms, hands and fingers, neck, face, and brow all relax, one by one, with each breath.
  7. When you feel completely relaxed and centered, imagine you are staring into a thick, white fog. All you see is white. Stay here until a thought or image comes to mind.
  8. If you had a writing topic in mind when you began, notice what related image or thought arises. For example, if you began by thinking you wanted to write about a particular event in your life, notice what sensory memory comes to mind: an image, a remembered smell, a sound, a feeling of something against your skin.
  9. When you are ready, open your eyes, and write, beginning with that image or sensory detail.

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