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On morning pages

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Arrigo Programme complimentary notebookDenise Leicester of ila tells us how Julia Cameron’s ‘morning pages’ can help us deal with our issues

In 1994 I spent three months in India studying art and healing.  I explored ways of accessing my inner creative energy and expressing through a variety of mediums – yoga, dance, Kalari (a martial art) and yogic healing.  On my way to India I had come across a book by Julia Cameron called The Artist’s Way – A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity (Souvenir Press) and half-heartedly thought it could be useful.

While I was in India, I found so much negativity and resistance bubbling up within me, so I decided to see if the book could help. The Artist’s Way teaches techniques and exercises to help you gain self-confidence and harness your creative talents and skills.  It’s also about seeing the connection between your artistic creativity and your spiritual self.  It’s about practicing the art of creative living. It comprises a 12-week course, gently unfolding and unleashing the creativity that we all have inside – whether we are writers, painters, dancers, gardeners, cooks or just people who want to express our creativity through living life to the utmost.

Denise Leicester founder of ila

Denise Leicester takes a breath in The Maldives

What I found most transformative are what Julia Cameron calls ‘Morning Pages’.  As an exercise, they sound incredibly simple, yet they’re amazingly powerful.  The idea is that, pretty much as soon as you get up, you write out three pages in longhand.  It’s a total stream of consciousness.  You don’t censor yourself in any way and it doesn’t matter what you write.  There is no wrong way to do Morning Pages– they are about anything and everything that crosses your mind – dreams, thoughts, worries, shopping lists, anything that comes in!.  But, for best results, you do need to do them religiously every day.

I find (yes, I’ve carried on doing them) that they clear my mind of the low energy nonsense that floats around and clouds my day.  The process of writing down grounds feelings and thoughts.

In particular I noticed repetitive patterns of thinking and emotions kept surfacing as I wrote.  Recognizing and identifying them was part of letting something much bigger dissolve. I realized my mind is primarily negative in its nature and is always looking to find problems.  I came to recognise that negativity.  I’d think:  ‘Oh, here we go – ‘The Worrier’ is here.’  It would surface in all sorts of forms.  Before I would never have identified these patterns yet, by writing them down, I learned that I can also let them go.  Beyond the mind there is another part of me – calm, yet also a bubbling brook of joy and creativity, expansion and expression. I think that part is Love – and it’s our true self.

The Artists Way book cover

–  The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron

How to unleash your inner artist

Here are five tips from The Artist’s Way to get you started.

crown-pink Every morning set your clock half an hour early. Get up and write three pages of longhand, stream-of-consciousness morning writing. Do not reread these pages or allow anyone else to read them.

crown-pink Every week, take yourself on an artist’s date. For example, take five pounds/dollars and go to a stationery or art/craft store. Buy silly things like sparkly sequins, glue, crayons, gold stars – whatever takes your fancy.

crown-pink Take your inner artist for a walk, just the two of you. Keep all your senses open. A brisk twenty-minute walk can dramatically alter your consciousness.

crown-pink Sit down, breathe and make a list of twenty things you love doing (rock climbing, making bread, riding a horse, reading poetry, running, and so forth). When was the last time you allowed yourself to do these things? Ponder if you might allow yourself to do them again.

crown-pink List three old enemies of your creative self-worth. Think back. Who were the historic monsters who sat on your creativity and smothered it? Create a monster hall of fame and start writing out (or painting) those old stories. Time to let them go.

© Queen of Retreats

Read our review of Denise Leicester’s emotional detox retreat, or for more on ila, go to

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