Sacred Path Writing Exercise: the Life of an Atom

Last week I reviewed Writing as a Sacred Path by Jill Jepson and promised to share some of the exercises from the book. This week: an exercise from the mystic path section that’s designed to open your consciousness to a wider reality. Jill Jepson explains:

“When a reader becomes lost in a story or poem, it is because the writer has touched upon something universal. No matter that her work is about particular people at a specific time and place: it springs from an intuitive grasp of the universal life of which we are all a part. In order to write with this kind of global awareness, the writer must experience something akin to the mystic’s consciousness of oneness.”

This exercise is called Tracing the Life of an Atom and involves letting your imagination stretch as far as it can:

“One of the surprises of modern science is the realisation that the atoms that make up our bodies have existed since the Big Bang and will continue to exist until the end of the Universe. A hydrogen atom in a drop of your blood may many times have been a part of the ocean or a cloud – on this planet or another. It may have been in the cells of untold numbers of plants and animals. It has no doubt been in drinking water, urine, icebergs, pomegranates, comets, and earthworms. It has probably been part of thousands of human bodies before becoming part of yours. Perhaps it was in the tears of a prehistoric woman whose child had died or in the heart of an Amazonian hunter or in the doomed Hindenburg zeppelin. This exercise can remind us of this remarkable unity:

  1. Write the atom’s history. With these myriad possibilities in mind, write a history of one hydrogen atom that is in a drop of your own blood. What route did that single atom take through the eons? How did it get from one place to another? Did evaporation move it from the ocean to the sky? Did a little boy’s peeing in the snow move it from his body to the ground? Be as specific and detailed as you can.
  2. Write the atom’s future. Now go in the other direction: when this atom leaves your body, where might it go and how? Imagine it travelling through the future. Visualise all the things it may one day be part of.”

Next time: an exercise from the monastic path

More Writing Prompts here