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Morning Pages - the transformative power of daily stream of consciousness writing

Updated: Jan 29




Have you ever noticed, just how much basis a ‘healthy lifestyle’ seems to have in our morning choices?


Done right, the morning can sow the seeds for a productive, energised, positive and happy day.


Done wrong, and the day begins on the back foot, whether we’re aware of it… or not.


In principle, there aren’t many morning habits that I’d refute the benefits of.


Breakfast


Bed-making


Curtain-drawing


Mindfulness


Skincare rituals


They’re all well worth investing the time and effort in.


However, knowing this doesn’t seem to stop the ‘perfect morning’ aesthetic - with all its yoga, lemon water and overnight oats - from grinding my gears more than something so well-meaning probably should.


If I had to pinpoint a reason for this, I’d say it’s probably as simple as the preclusions of my current reality, which seem to make it vastly incompatible with 'rising and shining.'


‘Set your alarm an hour before the family awake, to help recalibrate before day’s processes begin’ - they say!


But when the children are awake at 5.45am, and this means setting an alarm for 4.45am, it's a hard pass.


‘Take a moment to breathe in the new day, repeat your affirmations and practice gratitude.’


Again, all well and good, but when you’re no sooner out of bed as riding the hurricane of lunch-box-making-uniform-finding-bag-packing-shoe-tieing chaos… it comes down to a question of ‘how, exactly?’


With zero margin for any zen between the hours of 6am at 8.30am, nothing but caffeine and adrenaline seems to cut it! Sorry... breakfast police!


That said, I can concede that I should not be quite so quick to admit defeat in the realms of morning betterment.


Surely, if something is better than nothing, then even the small matter of not being able to pause or hear oneself thing, should be no barrier to ‘moving the needle.’


The conclusion this led me to, is that if I can’t get my ‘golden hour’, then maybe I could get my ‘golden three minutes’, courtesy of the most intriguing 'morning health hack' I've stumbled across in a long time.


That is....Morning Pages.


Morning Pages is a form of stream of consciousness writing, which must be done in longhand, first thing in the morning.


The theory goes that this is the point in the day when the brain's inhibitory processes are weakest, so creative thinking comes more readily.


The hand-written aspect is a non-negotiable, since it takes longer to put pen to paper, which gives more time to peruse the emotional landscape it generates along the way.


It’s a bit like how driving slower works in favour of taking in more of the scenery, I guess!


Also, there is no opportunity to go back and re-write or delete. It’s first time lucky, which ultimately feeds the confidence cycle and builds trust in the 'inner voice' - away from the noise of logic and reason.


To get it right, there are two caveats to keep in mind.


First, you must stop after three pages, since the window of opportunity to write without too much conscious involvement is a narrow one.


Secondly, persistence is key, since it’s only when the steam starts to run out on page two, and the need to 'dig deep' kicks in, that the real pay dirt begins to emerge, which makes the process worth its while.


Of course, the mental health benefits of externalising thoughts is by no means a new concept, and Morning Pages is of course piggybacking on this formula.


That said, it is unique in one very important way. That is, it endeavours to catch your brain at the time it's least likely to be swayed by the ego, or other such influences that might make it's products disingenuous.


This makes it the ultimate 'brain dump' tool, and a catalyst to creative recovery, not to mention catharsis, potentially.


In essence, Morning Notes is designed to mimic the 'safe space' of therapy, so destroying your notes afterwards is preferable to re-reading them or saving them for posterity.


I have to say, I'm more than a little ingrigued, which is why I've officially committed to a 30 day 'Morning Pages' challenge. That's 90 pages of blurb, all penned in the time it takes for the kettle to boil.


So far, what's spilled out through all these harriedly biro'd hieroglyphics has been trivial at best, pointless at worst. However, I'm reasonsbly confident that it's the discipline here, which is almost as important as what's divulged.


Like lemon water for the mind, the 'cleansing' benefits of Morning Pages are cumulative, and just as likely to make the mornings feel lighter in principle, even if they rarely are in practice!


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