Inspiring Enchantment & Illumination with Tarot & Intuitive Guidance

Step Four Begins: Recovering a Sense of Integrity

from the Esocentric Tarot Deck © Shot in the Dark Photography

Taking a new step, uttering a new word is what people fear most.
— Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Today, we begin the fourth step together, Recovering a Sense of Integrity. And frankly, I have a lot of complex feelings about this one. I will warn you, it is maybe the hardest one. At least it was for me the first time, and probably will be this time, too. And I have very mixed feelings about how I am going to handle it within the context of blogging. Because it is completely antithetical to blogging.

This is the step of the infamous reading deprivation week. Yes, you read that right. I’ll have LOTS more to say about it, but we don’t need to go there just yet. I’m just giving you a heads up about it.

At this point, as Julia writes on the first page of the chapter, “You may find yourself grappling with changing self-definition. The essays, tasks, and exercises are designed to catapult you into productive introspection and integrations of new self-awareness. This may be both very difficult and extremely exciting for you.

Warning: Do not skip the tool of reading deprivation!”

So first off, a very important check-in here. How are you doing with your morning pages? They really aren’t meant to be an optional, “When I feel like it” step. Honestly, they are crucial to this whole thing. By now, you have hopefully made them an integral habit. I find that I get cranky when I skip them. How about you?

We are going to need them for this step, and the more natural they are for you, the better. This is because, as Julia notes, it is precisely at this moment on our journey that big, powerful waves of change may be in the offing. And she notes that in her experience from many years of leading people on The Artist’s Way, we are most tempted to abandon our pages when we can feel intense emotions brewing.

The daily check-ins that are easy are, um, well, easy. But the Big Stuff, especially when we are in the middle of it, and can’t see the end, since it may be days and weeks away, is where we get very uncomfortable and actually may not want to have the lightning bolt of truth revealed to us.

Indeed, we seek the deep and profound change of growth, but when those changes really start to shake things up, many of us naturally step back, fearing the loss of our comfort levels. So often, the pain that we know and have accommodated for years disguises itself as security. To feel the impending dissolution of that is scary stuff. And the morning pages can often be the catalyst for those revelations, from which there is no return.

Know what I mean?

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  • May 5, 2009, 2:07 pm Star

    You are hitting the nail on the head! I have been doing these exercises as I was a bit ahead of the blog. POW! I have had the most emotional 2 weeks in years. Of course, my out of balance hormones are partially to blame, but these exercises were challenging. At first I was unwilling to write the Artist’s Prayer and do the reading deprivation. And it is getting harder to take time for my artist dates! Yikes! I missed morning pages once, but often find myself writing them at night. Yikes! I’ll share more of my experiences as we move ahead. Rollercoaster is right!


  • May 5, 2009, 5:36 pm Anonymous

    Uncomfortable?? I was thinking more like in a blender on puree…though there are some moments of serenity.

  • May 5, 2009, 8:00 pm Thalia

    I do not manage to do my morning pages everyday. I went back through them and it looks about like every three days, on average. I am actually thinking that is pretty good for me.

    This post is making me think a lot about how traditional 'discipline' does not fit me. I have been trying to just let things be, to see where I settle out without trying to fit myself into something else. A baseline, if you will. I am finding I do things in an incredibly organic (or right-brained, I suppose) way; and when I am able to relax and let things flow as they want to I get a lot more done than if I try to make myself do something.

    I think that is genuine self-knowledge. I do not think that is my defenses speaking. But it's hard to tell from in here. 🙂

    And the idea of a reading deprivation week already has my brain doing flip-flops. (How will I work? I'm in the middle of something for work and it's still in the research stages!? What will I do? &c., &c.)

    Also, it occurs to me, I do a lot of other sort of journaling (like my blog) anyway, which is how I've been approaching the morning pages, I guess. I don't know.

    I've only done one artist date so far. My brain refuses to get itself clear on the concept.

    And I have issues with 'morning' anyway. I have terrible insomnia and no set schedule and by the time I'm out of bed in the afternoon I'm already panicking and feeling guilty I've wasted half my day and so morning pages? Oy.

    So from the start I gave myself permission to do them at other times during the day. I'm trying to get in the habit of if I don't know what to do next to go do them.

    Anyway. Rambling a bit.

  • May 6, 2009, 5:40 am Catherine BTW

    Heh artist friends
    I have come to trust the “pages” no matter what time of day I pen them, or if I miss a day or days. If this is helpful to anyone, sometimes I pen the page as if my “body” or my “hardest memory” or whatever is distracting me the most is “writing” the pages. Thanks for everyone’s notes–they really help me come back to the pages and to “do my work.”