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Old Monday, June 25, 2007
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Arrow Writing Therapy!!!

Some two years ago one of my uncles gave me some folded papers and asked to burn them up. “What is this?” I asked him and he said “Writing therapy”. Writing therapy? I was surprised to learn this new word. He showed me a small article from a newspaper about this and here goes the article. Many of us write diary daily. They are in a habit of recording their routine. The urge to write, to put our thoughts on paper, is like an involuntary, almost compulsive, act that takes control of our emotions. But is writing a therapy?

Writing is a meditation:
it settles the mind. It is a de-stressor: it releases tension. It is like a confessor who keeps your secrets safe. It is also a mood-changer, with the capability of making you happy. It is an outlet, for it helps you let go of your negative thoughts. It is creative, cathartic, curative.

Quite simply, writing is beyond words, Jawaharlal Nehru wrote to his daughter while confined to prison; Anne Frank from her secret annex. Hugh Prather writes notes to himself; Franz Kafka did not even want his writings published. Generals narrate anecdotes from their lives; so do politicians, bureaucrats, artists. And, not to be left behind, there is the classic The Diary of a Nobody whose author asks: Why should Mr Pooter's diary not be immortalized in print—merely because he is not a Somebody?
Writing is for Everybody, it is a device used not only by those in the profession.

Forms of writing:
There are many forms of writing; there are many styles. We have different ways of expressing ourselves; we also have varied reasons for doing so. But when pen and paper make contact, thoughts are released and the mind gets more focused as we are instinctively drawn towards the quiet center of the self.

Writing is a disciplinary act that gives new insights into yourself and your relationships. It is also completely honest—for what do you gain by lying to yourself? It is a therapy prescribed for Everybody, not just for the disturbed, distressed or dying. Writing is a spiritual quest, it is the soul searching for truth.

A poet writes because it becomes too heavy if he doesn't write. He unburdens himself by writing. The poetry is a catharsis. The poet feels good once he has written something that was persistently there asking for attention.

Writing affirmations and other positive statements help you feel good about yourself. There is a certain finality, a sense of commitment, involved in the act of writing. Leading personal growth programs such as The Forum have exercises which ask you to write a letter or a communication to help give language to your feelings. You are encouraged to write what you want to see or do. This is said to have a miraculous impact on your motivation levels.

Writing letters helps in improving communication and relationships. Recommends John Gray in Men Are From Mars,Women Are From Venus: "If your partner has upset you in some way, write them a Love Letter, and while you are writing ask yourself how this relates to your past. As you write you may find memories coming up from your past and discover that you are really upset with your own mother or father. At this point continue writing but now address your letter to your parent. Then write a loving Response Letter. Share this letter with your partner...

Writing for therapy helps erase effects of trauma
Six years ago, Vietnam veteran John Mulligan was a homeless "shopping cart soldier" in San Francisco's North Beach, a man wracked with flashbacks and numbed by post-traumatic stress disorder. But his life took a turn during a veteran's writing workshop conducted by noted author Maxine Hong Kingston.
At the first workshop, Mulligan wrote about a horrific scene from the war: his buddies turning their weapons on a water buffalo for fun, sport, and misplaced revenge. The blood, the noise, the sense of loss and waste were all there.
Dozens of studies have found that most people, from grade-schoolers to nursing-home residents, med students to prisoners, feel happier and healthier after writing about deeply traumatic memories, says James Pennebaker, Ph.D., a professor of psychology at the University of Texas and leader or co-leader of many of the studies.
Pennebaker's interest in the potential of writing therapy was sparked by conversations with government polygraph operators. A criminal's heart rate and breathing, he learned, is much slower immediately after a confession than before. Since then, he's spent much of his career proving that we can all feel better after confronting the past through writing.
The effect isn't just emotional, Pennebaker says. One of his studies, published in the "Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology" in April 1988, found that college students had more active T-lymphocyte cells, an indication of immune system stimulation, six weeks after writing about stressful events. Other studies have found that people tend to take fewer trips to the doctor, function better in day-to-day tasks, and score higher on tests of psychological well being after such writing exercises, he says.
Writing off asthma and arthritis
A new study, published in the April 14, 1999, issue of the "Journal of the American Medical Association," shows that expressive writing can even ease the symptoms of asthma and rheumatoid arthritis.
Joshua Smyth, Ph.D., an assistant professor of psychology at North Dakota State University, and colleagues asked 70 people with either asthma or rheumatoid arthritis to write about the most stressful event in their lives. The study participants wrote about their emotional pain for 20 minutes straight on three consecutive days. Another group of 37 patients wrote about their plans for the day.
Four months later, 47 percent of the group that wrote about past traumas showed significant improvement -- less pain and greater range of motion for the arthritis patients, increased lung capacity for the asthmatics -- while only 24 percent of the group that wrote about their daily activities showed such progress.
Pain from the past
Researchers don't know exactly why writing about painful events can improve health, but the answer probably lies somewhere in the still-mysterious connections between stress and disease.
Numerous studies have found that prolonged emotional stress can weaken the immune system, promote heart disease, and worsen the course of arthritis, asthma, and many other diseases. In one particularly startling example, a study published in the December 16, 1998 issue of the "Journal of the National Cancer Institute" found that elderly people who were depressed had nearly double the risk of developing cancer.
Putting traumatic memories into words can help ease turmoil and defuse the danger, Smyth says. "Writing gives you a sense of control and a sense of understanding," he says. "To write about a stressful event, you have to break it down into little pieces, and suddenly it seems more manageable."
If writing can help ease the symptoms of arthritis and asthma, other stress-related conditions are bound to follow, Pennebaker says. He and his colleagues are now studying writing as an infertility treatment, and they're also looking to see if such therapy can prolong the lives of heart disease and breast cancer patients.
For his part, Smyth is studying veterans and victims of sexual abuse who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. Despite success stories like Mulligan's, there's little scientific evidence that writing can help treat such a severe psychiatric disorder, he says.
A home remedy:
Writing therapy provides insights, reflection and suggestions that help deepen our journey of self-discovery that directly impacts our creative and artistic path. Artistic expression requires a measure of awareness and that awareness can be deepened through writing. Writing intensifies and broadens our awareness of ourselves and our surroundings including other people and that can be invaluable for us as artists. It is the very core of how we communicate as creative human beings. Just as dancers communicate with movement, musicians with song, actors with emotions, visual artists with images, writers communicate with the written word, which is an extremely clear, concise and straightforward form of expression.
The informal, safe and personal process of therapeutic writing involves putting thoughts and feelings into words as a psychotherapeutic tool. It is based on the belief that recording memories, fears, concerns and/or problems can help relieve stress, promote health, well-being and lead to more profound personal growth and artistic freedom. We can view this type of writing as a vital exercise for all artistic disciplines that strengthens and fortifies our creative spirits and provides a release for our sensitive souls.
Being an expressive therapy, it helps to give us an honest insight into our real selves and relationships. The very act of putting pen to paper (or fingers on a typewriter!) has always been refreshingly cathartic—a limerick on the back of a grocery list, a beautiful thought on a piece of paper, your daily journal, a few lines of poetry. So go ahead and write down whatever's coursing through your mind, and watch your true self unfolding before you on this journey of self-discovery. And never mind about grammar!

Reference: Some of the material is my own and some from internet
Long, long afterward, in an oak
I found the arrow, still unbroke;
And the song, from beginning to end,
I found again in the heart of a friend
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