Every Thursday morning in the summer at 10 AM you can find me at “Write Like You Mean It”. This has been one of my favorite writing groups that I have ever been a part of. Each week, Pam explains the guidelines and then launches into some creative writing prompts. These fantastic prompts bring out different sides of me, words and emotions deep within me. But what makes it even better is the diverse community of writers with different voices and backgrounds. We listen and encourage each other, and I leave with a feeling of connectedness and love, almost like going to church. Pam easily builds community and facilitates creativity. Her calming demeanor and self-effacing jokes keep the mood light and easy. As I listened to her writing pieces, I realized we had more in common than it first appeared. I wanted to befriend her and not be quarantined to only seeing her on Thursdays. Now she’s become a trusted friend, and I want you to experience the gift of Pam.
Pam, you have been leading writing groups at the library for 4 1/2 years and you are a writer yourself. How long have you been writing and why did you start?
I wrote poems and songs as a kid, but only began writing seriously as an adult. I often shared work with a photographer friend of mine, Cordelia Williams. She encouraged me to apply for a grant from the ASC and the grant allowed me to publish my first book of poetry. My therapist also encouraged the use of my writing as a tool for my own understanding and growth. We all have struggles and joys, so my most personal work is also often relatable.
What made you want to facilitate writing experiences for others?
I had never participated in a writing group before starting one. My goal was to engage creatively with writing and encourage others to do the same. The group dynamic is a way to encourage sharing work and supporting other writers.
In your experience, how can writing help people heal? What tips or resources might you recommend for someone who is looking to begin a journaling or writing practice?
In my own experience, I have seen how healing and transformative writing can be. I have used both poetry and journal writing in conjunction with therapy and spiritual practice for my own personal growth. Some of my favorite techniques are the Future Self Journal questions by Dr. Nicole LePera and morning pages (basically a daily freewriting). I also love Elizabeth Gilbert’s journaling prompts which use letter writing to uncover our heart’s desire.
You are also a Heartfulness meditation trainer. Could you tell us more about that particular type of meditation? How did you get into meditation and how has it helped you in your life?
Heartfulness meditation is a heart-based system which starts with the understanding that the heart is central to unlocking our connection with our higher self and the divine. I began in Heartfulness meditation about 14 years ago, looking for quiet and peace in a difficult time. My children were small and I had almost no time to myself. I initially would get up at 4:30 AM to meditate before my family was awake. I was looking for something and saw a mention of a group meeting at Unity Church. I really had no idea that it would be more than sitting quietly together. The depth and intensity of the practice really took me by surprise, in a good way.
Meditation immediately helped me to rediscover spiritual connection and find more balance and courage in life. It sustains me through the storms of life.
What are some beginner tips that you would give for someone who wants to try meditation? Do you have any resources that you would recommend?
Beginner Tip #1 Anyone can do this. We all have busy minds, but my busy mind can become absorbed with the vastness of an inner landscape.
Tip #2 Seek support for best results. I tried several things before landing on Heartfulness. Having a personal trainer to work with at no charge and a group of friendly folks to meditate together with regularly made a BIG difference.
Tip #3 Meditation is not always going to be easy or enjoyable. I remind myself that I didn’t take this up for entertainment, but for EVOLUTION. The other E. There will be hard days in any practice.
I recommend DOING more than reading about meditation. There is not much to be gained from reading, but after having the experience of meditation, reading can sometimes help us to understand our experience.
In what ways have you combined meditation and writing?
I have used a guided relaxation and short meditation to access subconscious or unconscious ideas and then pull those into a writing. I have sometimes written a poem directly out of a meditation experience. My first book of poetry, Come Walk With Me, includes a few examples.
How could people contact you if they were interested in joining one of your meditation or writing groups?
I am currently conducting both meditation and writing programs for Charlotte Mecklenburg Library. They are available on the library website at cmlibrary.org/calendar or I can be contacted directly at email@example.com. Heartfulness meditation is available worldwide through heartfulness.org or on the HeartsApp for Android and iPhone from the Heartfulness Institute.
You got your BA in Music. How can music open your mind or take you deeper into meditation or your writing practice? Can the act of making music be a meditation?
You ask such great questions! Music was probably my first form of meditation. I played piano from the age of 5 and later studied voice in college. Music definitely can lead us into less conscious exploration of our inner selves and is a great way to access and express emotions. I sometimes listen to music while writing or before writing. Song lyrics are a great love of mine…don’t get me started on that topic. Yes, I would say that making music can be a form of meditation. Engaging the physical body and the spirit together through music is a powerful experience both for the musician and an audience.
That makes me think of Drum Circles. When I have participated in a Drum Circle before, I was amazed how quickly keeping the physical rhythm got me out of my head and into a new mental rhythm. I felt so connected, not only to everyone participating, but to everything around me.
I haven’t yet participated in a drum circle but I am definitely interested. There’s always more to explore in life!
You can contact Pam directly at PTurner@cmlibrary.org