Last week I wrote about the ways in which books can help us come into our aligned story and self, and I wrote about some of Thich Nhat Hanh’s books.
This week, I’ve been thinking about the therapist and writer Alice Miller, whose work helped me—as it has helped so many—see the world, and myself, differently.
At the heart of Miller’s work is the belief that we should question authority, and that as children raised in our “civilized” tradition, we have been brought up to obey things that are not really for anyone’s good.
Miller encourages us to remember, or perhaps feel for the first time, what our childhood experiences really were like—not from our adult perspective, but instead from the childhood perspective itself.
Miller believes that we are conditioned, from the time we are very young, to discount our own experiences, feelings and interpretations in favor of the experiences/feelings/interpretations expected of us. Our parents, our schools, society as a whole discount children’s experiences, and eventually Miller came to believe that traditional Freudian therapy perpetuated that pattern.
To grow up in a world in which we are, from early childhood, cut off from our own intrinsic experiences, has profound consequences not only for us as individuals, but also for the whole society.
Central to Miller’s work is the question: what leads us, as humans, to feeling disconnected from ourselves and from one another? What leads to tyranny and violence?
Alice Miller believed that a culture that raises children to trust in external authority while discounting their own authority leads both to personal unhappiness and collective violence.
Miller’s work also underscores the ways in which our bodies themselves carry our stories. The very ways our education (both institutional and at home) cuts children off from their bodies enables this kind of split from one’s own value system.
But when we bring mind and body back together, and listen to our bodies, we recover our own truths and can heal both individually and as a society.
I recommend in particular Miller’s first three books:
The Drama of The Gifted Child. This is Miller’s first book and looks more specifically at the individual child’s experiences.
Thou Shalt Not Be Aware. This brilliant book explores key cultural stories that fragment us from our own moral guidance system, as well as the life and work of such writers as Virginia Woolf and Flaubert.
For Your Own Good. The third of Miller’s books, this book explores the roots of violence in our society and looks at Hitler and other very violent individuals.
These books are timely to read in America today. They allow us to look seriously at the dangers of violence while still trusting in the inherent potential for good in all children and in ourselves.
Reading Miller’s work changed my life and who I am: it allowed me to access parts of my own story that had been cut off, and it guides me in the work I do now, helping individuals reclaim their wholeness and authority, and helping us collectively shift our communal story so that can live in a less violent, fragmented world.
And as always, here are some of my upcoming events, including my yoga/writing workshop happening tomorrow. I'd love to see you!
And if you like my work, please share it with friends and family! Thank you.
March 11: Om Namo Center, 1:30-4. Embrace and Let Go: Writing and Yoga Workshop. Whatever is happening around us, we have the capacity to bring our own lives into alignment. In this yoga and writing workshop, you will be given tools to reconnect with yourself and your truth by bringing mind and body together. Studies have shown the positive health benefits of writing through emotional blocks; these benefits are amplified when we allow the mind and body to enter into dialogue and learn from one another. Designed for writers and non-writers alike and for yogis of all levels, the workshop will offer practices that you can use in your life after the workshop See more here
March 25. Inner Evolution for Women: 1:00-4:00pm with Jessica Ronalds, LMHC, Acton, MA
I'm very excited to be offering this afternoon session with therapist Jessica Ronalds to deep healing and clearing work for women to start spring with our full vitality.
Is part of you looking for something more? Do you get inklings that haven't been able to pay attention to?
The world is pulling you in a hundred different directions,and you often feel spent, but you are ready to live with more authenticity, agency and power. In this workshop, we'll use meditation, some easy writing exercises, conversation and simple movements to come back into our centers, re-align our bodies, minds and spirits, and remember who we really are. Contact me for more information.
Mid-April: New sessions of my online class, Align Your Story, a unique deeply integrative approach to writing with close readings, yoga and meditation.
This is my signature ten week class, and once you enroll you have access for life. I now also have a premium option for more in depth support and feedback. See more at www.alignyourstory.com
Mid April: New sessions of my in-person poetry and creative prose classes will open.
Contact me for more information and to be put on a list. These are great communities of writers and appropriate for writers at all levels. See more at www.nadiacolburn.com
April 2, 2017 4pm
Friday April 28th: Grub Street, A Larger Purpose: Why Your Writing Voice Matters. Boston. 6-9pm. see more here https://grubstreet.org/findaclass/class/a-larger-purpose-why-your-writing-voice-matters/
Saturday, April 29th Copper Beach, West Hartford CT: Breathing Out Fear. A Day long retreat to address living in difficult times with more equanimity and engagement
see more here: www.copperbeechinstitute.org/breathing
Saturday, May 13, Writing Towards Freedom: an Afternoon of Meditation and Writing 1-4:30pm.
North Shore Zen Center, Beverly MA. See more here
August 18-20 Weekend workshop/retreat Copper Beach Institute, West Hartford CT. Take a full weekend to integrate mind, body and spirit and come into your aligned center. I’m really looking forward to this weekend, when we’ll have more extended time to practice together in community.
In my last post, I wrote about getting our story straight, and I said that I’d talk about supports that help us in this process so that we can and live with more health, vivacity, creativity and agency.