Writing as a Spiritual Practice with Mark Matousek
Access your sacred depths with a powerful, transformative writing practice to cultivate an expansive mind, open heart, authentic relationships, liberated creativity — and a
Have you ever felt a sense of freedom from pouring your heart’s deepest truths into the pages of a journal? Or into a personal piece of writing?
If you answered “YES” — you’re not alone. Those committed to spiritual growth often turn to the written page, where we can explore our true feelings, “taboo” thoughts and boldest visions. We may dialogue with our higher Self, or even examine our darkest shadows.
Often our raw, vulnerable and “out there” truths aren’t ready (or even appropriate) for public sharing, yet they still need to be expressed, felt and released in some way.
Exploring your raw emotions, uncensored thoughts and wildest ideas in a safe way can be a profoundly liberating experience. You can learn to open to more of yourself, love parts you once found unlovable, heal past hurts — and even access the highest states of consciousness connected to spiritual awakening.
It’s a pathway into deeper relationships, enhanced creativity and more powerful manifestation in the world.
In short, writing can be a potent practice that enhances your life in ways that are both personal and transpersonal, intimate and sublime. Your intimate writing can serve as your trusted confidante, Zen master and psychotherapist — all rolled into one.
On the other hand, if you don’t know how to foster a truly transformative approach to writing, you can get stuck in emotional ruts, feed negative thinking and cycle through old stories in ways that leave you feeling frustrated.
The difference between this and writing as a path of liberation, lies in treating writing as an actual spiritual practice — one that is every bit as potent as meditation, prayer or yoga. In fact, writing can help free areas of yourself that most conventional spiritual practices never touch.
When you start to see your writing as a place where you do some of your deepest inquiry into who you are, why you are here and what’s holding you back — that’s when the true power is realized.
When you look back at history’s greatest pioneers — from social change agents like Gandhi, to artists like Michelangelo, to scientists like Thomas Edison — you see that their personal writing journeys are often foundational to their leadership skills and creative breakthroughs.
Your journals and personal writing are portals into your greatest depths — which are the wellspring of true love, creativity and innovation.
Writing for Transformation
It’s not enough to simply write anything that pops into your head, as you might end up rehearsing and believing the old, limiting stories you tell yourself. Unstructured writing can reinforce that which binds you, rather than help you discover that which frees you.
So the liberating practice is to use writing as a way to probe your depths — going beneath the surface truths to the most vulnerable truths, exploring the hurt behind the anger, chipping away at the ego to expose the spirit that is orchestrating your more authentic experiences.
This takes skillful inquiry, as well as the kind of discipline we usually associate with other spiritual-growth practices. As you venture into areas that generate resistance, it can be easier to dismiss them and stick to familiar terrain.
The rewards of a deep and powerful writing practice are immense — providing you with a daily way to access, examine and release your innermost Self, your most profound truths and your most innovative insights.
You can use these practices to bring greater clarity to your lifepath, fuel your creativity and deepen your personal relationships. You can embrace your shadows to uncover their gifts — while expanding the inner depths of love and compassion.
More than anything, you’ll be able to access more and more of your unique genius, and receive profound wisdom for how to manifest it in the world (as well as transform the “blocks” we all experience).
When you learn to utilize the transformative power of writing, you do two profound things simultaneously:
- You gain a powerful tool for your spiritual path — one that is always available and essentially free.
- You access your depths in ways that greatly enhance all of your public writing and speaking — making you a more compelling teacher, leader, activist or entrepreneur (or any profession that requires communication).
Why do you see real shifts in the public arena? Because people respond more powerfully to someone who is clear, integrated and whole.
When you know yourself fully, you tend to be more heartfelt, insightful, truthful, funny and creative. You’re not imprisoned by social roles, but are able to relate from your authentic center. And others find that compelling — as they also yearn for more freedom and integrity in how they engage.
Think of how great actors are able to convey so much meaning with a single glance. They can do so because they are in contact with their rich inner lives, and have learned to be transparent with emotions — which makes them far more captivating.
The same is true of many entrepreneurs. Or therapists. Or teachers. When we sense someone is integrated and at peace with themselves, we trust them more, and are drawn to work with them.
So writing as a spiritual practice will take you into the brightest (and darkest) parts of yourself to experience a kind of liberated wholeness, which is the ultimate goal of spiritual practice. And it also enhances how you show up in the world — more comfortable with who you are and more connected to your inner wisdom.
The Importance of a Master Guide
As with any genuine spiritual inquiry, it is vital to have a master guide — one who knows the territory and the actual sequence of practice — far better than you do. A master guide can keep you on track, and help you avoid the many pitfalls that emerge along any genuine journey.
Fortunately, you have such a guide available to you for the 7-week course, Writing as a Spiritual Practice. Over the last three decades, Mark Matousek has become one of the world’s foremost chroniclers of the spiritual path — as an author (of the bestselling Sex Death Enlightenment ), journalist (for publications, such as The New Yorker and O ), collaborator (on foundational books like the Tibetan Book of Living and Dying ) and editor.
Mark is a master of language and, more importantly, a genius at marrying the depth of spiritual practice with the practice of writing. He is a dynamic, funny, self-revealing and profound teacher whose practices and disciplines make for a liberating, lifelong writing practice.
He has taught students worldwide about the discipline of writing as a spiritual practice — in a way that is profoundly liberating and very enjoyable.
During Writing as a Spiritual Practice, Mark will take you on a structured journey through seven key areas of writing, which can help free you from old limitations related to your identity, your relationships and your genius. In this potent course, you’ll enter a very safe and supportive container for your honest inquiry, within a global community.
You’re in good hands to take a deep dive into your liberation through writing, and learn skills you can utilize for a lifetime.
What You’ll Discover in These 7 Weeks
Course sessions are on Thursdays 12:00pm Pacific.
During this 7-week transformational intensive, Mark will guide you through the fundamental skills and competencies you’ll need to create a daily writing practice that cultivates a more authentic, self-aware and spiritual you.
Each weekly, LIVE contemplation and training session will build harmoniously upon the next, so that you’ll develop a complete, holistic understanding of the practices, tools and principles you’ll need to sustain your spiritual writing practice.
You’ll emerge with:
- Deeper access to your spiritual identity.
- Greater understanding of your authentic desires.
- Enhanced ability to discern the ego’s voice from your soul voice.
- A wider angle lens on your “life myth”.
- An inner refuge that you can turn to for wisdom and advice.
- Greater freedom from shame related to your shadow (and understanding of its wisdom).
- Comfort with your secret passions and fears.
- Increased discernment about where fear is blocking desire in your life.
- A non-dual approach to desire.
- A more profound understanding of your personal source of meaning and purpose.
- The ability to focus your intentions, stop procrastinating and practice discipline with kindness.
- Tools for healing from deep wounding in your life.
- Expanded access to your personal and creative genius.
- Deepened ability to express your innate gifts in the world.
Module 1) Who Am I?:
Accessing Your Soul (April 14)
Every life is a work of fiction. Behind our worldly mask is an essential self — a soul identity — whose powerful voice communicates our unique truth and deepest desires. Many of us suffer from mistaken identity. Until we access this soul awareness, we’re split off from our own true nature and distanced from our gifts, passion and purpose. This week, we’ll be exploring the gap in our lives between how we show up in our writing (and the world) and our true authenticity, and how to examine it through self-inquiry.
You’ll learn to:
- Gain access to your soul identity.
- Identify your authentic desires.
- Discern the ego’s voice from your soul voice.
- Listen to creative counsel from within.
- Consider your life myth from a soul perspective.
Module 2) The Secret Life:
Finding Your Inner Refuge (April 21)
The first step toward authenticity is surveying your secret life. Without exception, each of us has one — that vicinity of self that is yours alone — filled with memories, totems, obsessions, longings, dreams and vulnerabilities. This inner refuge contains a wellspring of inspiration and self-discovery. The soul loves specificity, intimacy and subjective uniqueness. This week, we’ll be inquiring into our own secret lives, and how they provide us with wisdom and balance.
You’ll learn to:
- Build an inner refuge of wisdom.
- Examine the obstacles to this refuge.
- Transcend shame about your shadow.
- Connect with shadow wisdom (this is where the juice is).
- Identify your secret passions.
Module 3) Fear & Desire:
Liberating Your True Passions (April 28)
The tension between fear and desire determines our quality of life. To live passionately, we must learn to walk this edge between both. But how is this possible? Our impulse toward control often prevents us from venturing through fear toward our deepest longing. How can you surrender control and abandon yourself to desire (without hurting others in so doing)? When is it wise to listen to fear? Why are you afraid of things that you crave (and vice versa)? This week, we’ll be looking at this interface between fear and desire: How we walk this line — and sometimes tumble over it into passion — and the role of moral conditioning in this dance.
You’ll learn to:
- Identify where fear arises.
- Isolate where fear blocks desire in your life.
- Step outside the moral matrix that binds soul to ego.
- Practice the “art of abandon”.
- Understand a non-dual approach to desire.
Module 4) The Quest for Meaning:
Finding What Truly Matters to You (May 5)
From a soul perspective, what does your life really mean? Do you wonder whether you matter or not, and for what purpose you have been born? Our quest for meaning is hard-wired in us. “We tell ourselves stories in order to live,” wrote Joan Didion, and from these stories, we derive meaning. Without meaning, life’s tribulations lose their power to transform us. As Viktor Frankl famously taught, suffering without meaning equals despair (S-M=D). This week, we’ll look at what our existence means (to ourselves and the world), where our sense of purpose comes from — and how to harness our energies to reach higher goals.
You’ll learn to:
- Locate your personal source of meaning.
- Overcome obstacles to meaning in your life.
- Strengthen your commitment to purpose.
- Connect your personal meaning to the greater good.
- Reconstruct your life myth to accommodate authentic meaning.
Module 5) The Mystery of Love:
Deepening Your Intimate Relationships (May 12)
When Viktor Frankl was in Auschwitz, it was the hope of seeing his beloved wife again that gave his life meaning. The power of love enabled this great psychiatrist to survive. Love is the greatest mystery — our very reason for being. Why, then, can it be so enigmatic, unstable, unpredictable and challenging? The answer is that love is a practice. Like every practice, it is often difficult and requires discipline, commitment and tolerance of discomfort. This is how love yields its joy, “against the grain,” in the Buddhist saying. This week, we’ll be using our writing to plumb the mystery of love in its myriad varieties — passionate, platonic and familial.
You’ll learn to:
- Access your soul’s power to love.
- Heal from breaches of love in your life.
- Appreciate the variety of love relationships you have.
- Accept the shadow in love.
- Reaffirm love for your precious existence.
Module 6) Intention & Power:
Creating from Your Inner Source (May 19)
The soul is a power source. We plug into this source through intention. Intention shapes and guides us through life, holds our aim, keeps us on our path. The world is full of brilliant people whose lives would change dramatically if only their intentions were focused. Without that, there’s no creativity. Manifestation requires single-mindedness. This week, we’ll learn practices for focusing, and strengthening, personal intention in order to reach our goals.
You’ll learn to:
- Focus your intentions.
- Find the path of least resistance to what you desire.
- Stop procrastinating.
- Practice kind and consistent discipline.
- Commit to your own dreams.
Module 7) Awakening Genius:
Discovering Your Unique Gift (May 26)
Each of us is born with a unique gift. The Romans called this gift our “genius.” We come into this world with a “tutelary deity” that guides us toward our own fruition. The deity is our soul itself. When we free this soul, we liberate our inherent creativity and the inborn offering waiting to be born. If you do not offer your gift to the world, it will never truly exist. But what is your particular genius? What will the flowering of your soul be? In this module, we’ll learn about efflorescence (what Christian mystics called “viriditas”) — the “force that through the green fuse drives the flower” — and how we fuse with this power in daily life.
You’ll learn to:
- Identify your personal genius.
- Understand what its voice is telling you.
- Fuse with your creative genius.
- Manifest the gifts you were born with.
- Connect these gifts with the world around you.