Writing as a Spiritual Practice

I’m a writer both by vocation and avocation; there’s nothing I’d rather to do with my time. Writing is a profession, a craft…and potentially, part of a spiritual practice.

When we keep journals, write articles about yoga and meditation, and otherwise express our spirituality through writing, it can be very powerful; both for us and for our readers. Writing is a mode of expression unique to human beings (at least on this planet!). It allows us to “put our soul on paper” (or into cyberspace) for the world to see.

Reading other practitioners’ writing about their practice has been unfailingly helpful to my own (including here on this blog!). I’ve read every book Thich Nhat Hahn—my spiritual mentor who’s never met me—has written. His poetry is truly remarkable, as are his elucidations of ancient Buddhist texts and his straightforward dharma writings. I highly recommend his book, Call Me by My True Names: The Collected Poems of Thich Nhat Hahn. Here’s a quotation from the title poem:

My joy is like spring, so warm it makes flowers bloom in all
walks of life.

My pain if like a river of tears, so full it fills the four oceans.

Please call me by my true names,
so I can hear all my cries and laughs at once,
so I can see that my joy and pain are one.

Call Me by My True Names: The Collected Poems of Thich Nhat Hahn (Excerpt)

   Copyright © 1999 by Thich Nhat Hahn

Published by Parallax Press

Isn’t that beautiful? The entire poem is well worth reading, I assure you! It demonstrates, I think, a depth of feeling drawn from the well of a lifetime’s worth of Zen meditation practice and social activism. Writing has always been a big part of Nhat Hahn’s practice; he used to write every night after doing sitting meditation. I know I’ve done some of my best writing immediately after meditating; it clears the mind and enhances one’s creativity.

I applaud all the yoga and meditation practitioners out there who make writing a regular part of their spiritual practice. I encourage all the would-be “journalers,” bloggers, and spiritual writers out there to express themselves freely and often!

Namaste,

William

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