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Words by Carina Platt
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Automatic writing has become a popular TikTok trend but what is it and what does it claim to do? Carina Platt investigates.
Putting pen to paper is often seen as a good way to process your thoughts. Whether it is journaling, keeping a diary or just allowing yourself to capture how you feel by writing in a notebook, on your phone or your computer, many say they find it helpful.
Now there is a new fashion for automatic writing, which is supposedly a way of processing thoughts we are not fully aware of.
Think back to when you got dressed this morning. Did you have to think about how to button up your shirt or tie your shoelaces? Of course not—and that’s the subconscious in action. It’s the storehouse for everything we know, a goldmine of information.
“Automatic writing gets you out of your own way”
A trend called automatic writing is where the relaxed subconscious mind apparently writes messages using a pen and paper with thoughts flowing out without the writer thinking about them. TikTok has been divided over its effectiveness.
The technique was first popularised in the 1880s. Nowadays it can be used as a tool for self-development.
‘Automatic writing gets you out of your own way,’ says Marilyn Devonish who has taught the technique, among others, for over 20 years. ‘It can open the door to some really great ideas sitting inside of you which you could be putting to good use or giving you a fresh perceptive on things.’
Marilyn cautions those who are feeling emotional against going ‘too deep’, saying that the subconscious mind can unlock painful memories or fears that we’d rather leave buried.
‘Those people should hold fire until they have the right support in place or ask only about the future, rather than dredging up the past. The trick is to keep it light and fun.’
Make sure you’re nice and relaxed, choosing a time when you won’t be disturbed. Hold a pen or pencil over a piece of paper, before taking a few deep breaths.
Decide what it is you want to know.
For instance, you might be struggling to find a solution to a problem or you are nervous about a job interview and need some guidance (for more ideas, see below). This ensures that both your conscious and subconscious mind knows the purpose of what you’re about to do. Now say out loud: ‘What information can you share with me to bring clarity on this situation?’
Close your eyes, clear your mind and allow your hand to begin writing on its own.
If at first nothing happens, don’t panic! You can try intentionally moving the pen while concentrating on getting into a more relaxed state. When the time is right, your subconscious will take over. Alternatively, you may find that switching to your non dominant hand helps to loosen things up or even writing on a laptop instead. There’s no hard and fast rules.
Don’t think about the end result.
It doesn’t matter if your handwriting is messy or you feel as though you are scribbling all over the page. Just aim to let go and let your hand do what it wants.
Time to decipher.
Continue writing until you feel get the sense that there’s nothing more for your subconscious to say. Now it’s time to take a look. Chances are, your first few attempts will be nonsensical but the more you practice, the more you will be able to pick out words, phrases or even images. Even if there’s nothing you can make sense of yet, don’t fret. Your subconscious will have processed your request and you should be alert to thoughts and ideas popping in your head in the days that follow. This is your inner wisdom telling you what you need to know.
How your subconscious can help
Ask your subconscious to bring you some inspired ideas which you might not have consciously thought of.
A simple, ‘Dear subconscious bring me one idea today which can help me do X,Y or Z’ gets mind brain working to come up with idea.
Ask, ‘What is it that’s blocking me from moving forward?’ See what comes in mind.
Automatic writing is like a psychological drain unblocker; the more you practice, the more thoughts and ideas will come into your mind when you are not writing.
Removing limiting beliefs.
Negative thoughts and feelings can prevent us from unlocking our potential. Ask your subconscious to write about your weaknesses on a black piece of paper so that you can’t read them. Once this negativity has been released, switch to a piece of white paper and ask it to reveal your strengths for an amazing confidence booster.
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