Writing Toward Wholeness: Journaling, Imagery, and Meditation

April 6, 2018 § 8 Comments

zz ww40_Author and workshop leader Susan Tiberghien offers writing exercises from her new book, Writing Toward Wholeness, Lessons Inspired by C.G. Jung, which uses excerpts from Jung’s writings, and writers such as Etty Hillesum, Thomas Merton, Annie Dillard, and Thich Nhat Hahn, to bring together psychology, spirituality and the arts:  

The first lesson in Writing Toward Wholeness ─ “Keeping Your Own Red Books” ─ suggests journaling as a way toward uncovering our soul, toward uncovering our connectedness, our oneness. Journaling is a practice, like meditation, leading us to deeper writing, to deeper living. When we journal, when we write about what we see, feel, touch, we discover its meaning, linking together the visible and the invisible worlds.

If I journal about a walk on the beach and picking up a small white shell, the white shell is no longer one amidst hundreds in the sand, but it is unique, its jagged edges cupped in my hand. It has suffered, from being tossed about by waves, currents, and eddies. But here it is in my hand, opening the door in my imagination to my own jagged edges.

To illustrate this, here is a writing suggestion from the second lesson in my book, “Pursuing Images.” Open your journal, close your eyes, what experience comes to you, what image comes to you? Something you did, something you saw. Hold on to the image, look at it, and describe it. Take a moment and write a few lines to give it life.

I give the following example from my own journal: “A tree with fall foliage appeared, like the one outside my kitchen window last fall. Its rust-colored leaves were falling sporadically to the ground.”  To learn from the image, from my tree, I spoke to it, asked it why it came to me. I wrote down my question and the tree’s response in the form of a dialogue. Jung calls this active imagination.

I asked if I too must let go of my leaves, If I must “stop checking if all is well, stop worrying about family, friends, about my work.” Yes, replied the tree, “Let things be.” I was told to trust the process. “The leaves return to their roots to rise anew.” Nothing is lost. Life is a continuum.

A continuum. A whole. Each of us writes towards this wholeness.  As Clarissa Pinkola Estes wrote in her “Letter To A Young Activist During Troubled Times:” ─ “Ours is not the task of fixing the entire world all at once, but of stretching out to mend the part of the world that is within our reach.”

Susan Tiberghien, an American writer living in Geneva, Switzerland, holds a BA in Literature and Philosophy and did graduate work at Grenoble University in France and the C.G. Jung Institute in Kusnacht, Switzerland. She has published four memoirs Looking for Gold, A Year in Jungian Analysis; Circling to the Center, An Invitation to Silent Prayer; Side by Side: Writing Your Love Story; and Footsteps: In Love with a Frenchman, and the writing handbook, One Year to a Writing Life, Twelve Lessons to Deepen Every Writer’s Art and Craft, along with numerous essays in journals and anthologies on both sides of the Atlantic. Tiberghien has been teaching Jungian inspired writing workshops for over twenty years at C.G. Jung Societies, at the International Women’s Writing Guild, and at writers’ centers and conferences in the States and in Europe. She directs the Geneva Writers’ Group, an association of over 240 English-language writers, which she founded in 1993. Mother of six children and sixteen grandchildren, she lives with her husband in Geneva, Switzerland.


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§ 8 Responses to Writing Toward Wholeness: Journaling, Imagery, and Meditation

  • Wonderful words on Jung in this article, and some brilliant starting points..I shall be checking out this book!

  • caralembo says:

    So grateful to have found a)Brevity and b)your book. I will search for easiest way to download or begin to read this morning. “The Secret Poetess” was awesome. I was triggered to some awesome starting points I had used in the past and new ones. Thank you for sharing your knowledge.

  • Ginny Boudreau says:

    This was an amazing article I’ll return to again and again. I was intrigued by the dialogue aspect and delighted with where it took me on my morning writing exercise. I can see how this approach will, with practice, elicit a deeper, more authentic place. I feel as though you’ve given me a secret door and I thank you for it.

  • Elizabeth says:

    Beautiful article. I look forward to reading your book!

  • lindawis says:

    Your sensitive, introspective voice comes through so clearly even in this short piece. Your suggestions inspire me to keep going, writing is a lifelong process.

  • oldmindwildsoul says:

    Beautiful post, beautiful words. I love an article that gives my mind the ability to turn for days. Keep up the great posts! 🙂

  • lgccheyenne says:

    I have a copy of One Year to a Writing Life, Twelve Lessons to Deepen Every Writer’s Art and Craft, right next to the place where I journal each morning. Now I have a new exercise to play with during tomorrow’s journaling session. Thanks, Susan, and thanks Brevity!

  • It is only today, April 2 2020, that I am reading these gracious comments. I thank each of you. We are together as we write our way through the darkness of the coronavirus to the light of tomorrow. With best wishes from Switzerland, Susan

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