Being Mindful. Being Present

EAF22FEC-6ECF-4CE4-BAA0-81C81BA0B26E

Rene Magritte —The False Mirror

 

Dr. Henry Emmons, a psychiatrist,  spoke at a conference I attended last week.  He ended his talk telling the audience what the secret was to happiness and longevity.

 He said, “Be mindful of the present moment.”

Mindfulness feeds into our everyday life and especially into writing.

Creator of the Mindfulness Based-Stress Reduction Program (MSBR), Jon Kabit-Zinn, said, “Writing can be an incredible mindfulness practice.”

My best writing sessions are when I am present with pen and paper in hand. I am centered and open as I write.

But when I ramp up my brain about other random things like, “don’t forget to do this or that, and don’t forget about that thing.” Then my brain starts to overload. It is like  hot oil shooting out of a pan. It has nowhere to go except all over the stove, the floor, and my arm. 

OUCH!  And Damnit! 

We don’t need to be jumping around like Mexican jumping beans with our distracted thoughts corrupting our writing time.  Or acting like my dog, Bailey, chasing every squirrel she sees or doesn’t see because she’s so programmed to just go when she hears the word, Squirrel!  

That’s kind of like our mind.

 And there are a lot of squirrels (aka distractions-checking email, googling information, answering a text) taking our attention.

When I practice settling into this moment. My mind slows down. 

I smell the lilacs outside my window.

I see the animal figures in the clouds.

It calms my heart. I can see the way into my imagination and get into the task of what I am writing.

And that is all that matters.

Writing about your life can be enjoyable and bring a deep satisfaction.  When I  experience life  in the present and take the time to write about it, life becomes fuller and I become more creative. 

Sometimes when I read old journals and see that I have skimmed or neglected much of the detail around that time, I get a little sad. I may still have the memory but I neglected to write about it in the present moment. I skirted around it or did not take the time to see the details.  As if it was just not important enough. As if my life is boring.

Jon Kabit-Zinn also said, “When you pay attention to boredom, it gets unbelievably interesting.”

Being present is about taking notice of your life.

Today at work I watched construction workers tear apart the street below my office window. I felt like my 15 month old grandson watching these huge bulldozers doing amazing things.

When you write, there is no reason to hurry, and no other place you need to go. 

So feel the breeze on your face, float with the clouds above, and smell the lilacs. 

Be there and wherever you are  ….

Write!

 

Word Care

 

B56CFF2C-F07A-4664-B130-CA1997E82486

 

Words are not always cooperative.  Are they?   They remain invisible, unstable, uncooperative or stale.  My editor self says,  “you are so boring.”

Why do I write?

Author, Julia Cameron,  said in her book, The Right to Write that writers should write …  “because it is human nature to write.  Writing claims our world.”

She also said, to paraphrase,  that our own inspiration connects us to something larger than ourselves allowing ourselves to live with greater optimism.

As a writer, there is always something to do. Writing, editing, researching, learning Scrivener. 

Sometimes  my brain does not want to think about it anymore. If I show up regularly to write I know that some days are easier than others. I also know that NOT feeling like writing is no excuse to not writing.

Yet what can I do to keep the creative faucet open when things seem a little too dry?

Some days it could be just eating a lemon poppyseed muffin. Or walking my dog,  or maybe three pages of ranting on the way the words are not working today.

The thing about feeling stuck when writing is that it is only temporary.  The moment you think you will never be able to write another word is when the faucet starts running uncontrollably. Something that reminds me of a scene from a Supernatural episode.  Like when the bathtub water starts to boil.   Eerie but exciting.

That’s the thing about creativity. It appears when you least expect it. But It’s not like it went anywhere. It’s more that you finally allowed that time portal to open so you could jump in.

Sometimes opening that door to your muse is nothing more than allowing yourself the gifts of living and embracing the wonderful world you are writing about. 

Take a nice long walk, read a book,  taste a piece of dark chocolate and drink a cup of Chai, go to the art museum. Don’t feel guilty about it.  Because after a break, you will get back to the chair and write whatever you can – good or bad.

Because that’s what you do.   You write.

Engaging in the world is  part of the process. 

Julia Cameron calls it a Writer’s Date. But for me it’s living a creative life. Engaging intimately in what I want to write about: my world.  It builds on the knowledge I’ve gathered already  and deepens what it means for me to be a human but also to be me.