To write a memoir is to follow ancient spiritual teachings. Writing a memoir requires that we come to terms with the various circumstances, both painful and joyful, that make up our lives, the dark nights of the soul, life challenges, and moments of great joy and ecstasy.
Many people who want to write about their lives begin with positive energy—appreciating the many moments that have made up their lives. Too often they become stuck as they write, unable to face some of the aspects of their lives that caused pain, discomfort, or sorrow.
Naturally, we prefer to focus on what made us happy, how our plans and desires turned out well, and we want to remember our successes. These stories are very important to capture. Most memoirists do not get stuck in those stories, the positive ones, which tend flow easily from the end of the pen. Some writers, however, find that in order to write authentically, they need the challenge of finding words to describe pain and transformation. Part of a spiritual path is to dig deeply within ourselves, to put upon the page those times when we were stumbling through the darkness of our lives, those moments of despair, when nothing seems right. Sometimes we have gotten lost, believing the darkness is all there is.
In most spiritual traditions, there is a method for self-examination: to tell the truth even when difficult; confess sins or examine how one has missed the mark. A reckoning of the soul takes place, often through the intervention of a teacher or mentor.
Writing a memoir is another way that work can be accomplished. Stories are the best way to convey first to ourselves and then perhaps to others, the powerful scenes, worries, shame and guilt that we have locked away in memory. This locked case of our minds and memories may contain the keys that we have been looking for to transform our lives, allowing us to proceed with less of a burden, and helping us to find forgiveness and compassion—first for ourselves. For it is from our own ability to see, know and understand that allows us to share it with others fully and without restraint or worry.
The spiritual model is:
· Silence and contemplation of our behavior and actions.
· Weighing and measuring our role in our circumstances—taking responsibility for our choices, understanding our strengths and weaknesses.
· Clarity about what we have done to cause pain to ourselves and others.
· The sincere desire to heal, to change our attitude and actions to improve the quality of our lives.
· Understanding how our actions or inactions have affected other people in our lives.
· Owning up to and making amends about the role we have played in creating imbalance in the universe, pain to others and to ourselves
· Understanding that we are not alone in our search for happiness.
· Tuning in to greater sources of love, healing, and creativity.
As we write, we witness and listen to ourselves, perhaps for the first time. Think about your life, reflect upon its shape and colors. Write yourself into bliss.
- Write about the first years of your life when you were innocent—if you felt during those years you were still innocent. Describe yourself at three or five.
- Write about your experiences of wonder and awe, especially in nature, at that early age.
- Do you remember the time before you were born?
- What was the most illuminating or inspiring moment of your life?
- List the times when you experienced Dark Nights of the Soul. How old were you? What were your questions.
- When you think of the term “Spiritual” what comes to mind?
- How do you feel about miracles? How do you define a miracle?