Exploring the Art of Writing for Emotional Wellness

Here is how you can better explore your mental and emotional wellbeing through journaling, writing, and poetry.

Here is how you can better explore your mental and emotional wellbeing through journaling, writing, and poetry.

All of us can’t run away from sadness, anxiety, or grief and as the poet Rumi said – emotions as visitors in our houses. To really reflect on them, on the purpose of their visit, and to begin to be mindful. Then Rumi reminds us to be thankful that they are knocking on our door as each emotion is a gift of Allah. 

As a person who has been passionate about writing poems, I have always been fascinated by how writing poems can provide a relief and venting gateway when I’m anxious.

Only when I recently took into studying Poetry Therapy Practice did I realize that reading and writing have been in our faith and some of us seldom looked at it or give a focus to it.

Surah Al-Alaq (96:1-5): “He Who taught (the use of) the pen, Taught man that which he knew not.”

These verses are among the first revelation that was given to the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and it orders the Prophet and all Muslims to read and encourages them to write with pen and progress in sciences.

As I look at it in my journey, in fact, the pen or writing is also the source of understanding the inner self which is called upon to be among tools to be used to enhance emotional wellness – using journaling and writing poetry. 

For those of us who are interested in starting journaling or writing poetry, we often find that the writing prompts available to us are far from our Islamic teaching. The Quran, however, is the source of guidance to all of us – here is how to start journaling or writing poetry referring to our Quran Al Kareem as a source of inspiration and sparking writing prompts. 

SpringBoard Technique: 

  1. Springboard technique is among journaling techniques proposed by expert in the field of journal therapy and therapeutic writing Kathleen Adams. Springboards are words or phrases that provide a jumpstart to writing – some people use quotes from books. Here we can refer to the Quran and look at Quran verses to be a source of inspiration and sparks. 
  2. Choose a verse or ayat from the Quran and read through it two to three times.
  3. Observe or be mindful in terms of questions that are probing in the mind. 
  4. Either select a word or sentence from a Quran verse or probing question that came to mind. 
  5. If you have a number of them, write them down and then select the one you feel you want to explore at this start. 
  6. Ideally, try to time yourself, and have 10 minutes to explore where the word or the probing question will lead you into your journaling or poem.
  7. As you write, allow yourself to write your inner voice and be aware that the journaling/poem is only for you so ideally, you should not be concentrating on composing a good write-up. 
  8. Reread what you had written and reflect on your writing – the reflection is more an analytical glance in terms of awareness or observation, something you noticed or felt. Write your reflection and observation as the end takeaway for yourself. 

Here is an example:

I selected Surah Al-Insyirah and this is what was the result: a poem titled The Soothing in You:   

“The Soothing in You

Rabi, hardship burdening my path 

Filled with emotions, endless and with no rescue

That was how it felt, in all myself dialogue 

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Then one day all written in my soul pages  

I poured all my heartaches and complained to you 

To end my heart burden, to show me path and clues

Forgiveness, came to my door, worrisome standing in line

Politely I mocked the plea of forgiveness, a narrow quest 

And as if heartache ends in fulfilling all dues

Unexpectedly I drowned in own void and hollow   

To see myself, in tears knocking at forgiveness cue 

Human life is frail and shallow.”    

The poem was a call to begin to forgive myself, and to pour into oneself a form of self-kindness.

Remember, your poem has not been opened; the answer is in you:

“So verily, with the hardship, there is relief. Verily, with the hardship, there is relief.” [Quran 94:5-6]