This past year I spent much of my time developing mindful writing curriculum and leading workshops and retreats. I love this work, not only because it brings me joy and purpose, but because of the people it has brought into my life. I looked back on how I came to develop this work and found that there were a lot of people to be grateful for.
I am grateful to have discovered mindfulness all those years ago by reading Dani Shapiro’s Devotion.
I am grateful to the Penn Program for Mindfulness. It was there when I needed it after my husband’s death, giving me a way to structure my grief and a new way to live my life moving forward. The MBSR foundational 8-week program really did change my life.
I spend a lot of time on Facebook. Too much time. Usually I justify it by saying it’s my main mode of communication. It’s where I post my book reviews, readings, essays, blog posts, and where I advertise my upcoming workshops and retreats.
I justify it by saying this is how I stay engaged with my community. I follow other writers and learn about their upcoming publications. I read their essays and articles and blog posts.
I justify it by saying this is where I get my news. I follow reliable new sources. My friends follow other reliable new sources and share articles. So I am informed about the latest news and the state of our nation.
This week in my Building a Mindful Writing Practice class, we focused on listening in many different ways. Listening to ourselves, to our bodies, to those around us, to the world around us, to the words of writers (both living and dead) and to our own writing, spoken aloud.
As writers, our job is to pay attention. As writers, our job is to be in conversation with the world around us. The first part of that job is to listen. In doing so, connections are made, ideas come forth, and words come to the surface.
I keep hearing people say things like “I suck at meditation,” “My mind is all over the place.” “I can’t do it.”
If this is you, you may have the idea that meditation is easy, peaceful, instant nirvana. Well, it’s not, at least not for most people.
For most of us, we sit down to meditate and we don’t like what our mind is doing. We don’t want to spend any time with it. It is not relaxing. Damn it!
The problem isn’t meditation. It’s your belief about meditation and who gets to do it. The thing turning you off to meditation is you. You didn’t like what you found. You realize how little control you have over your thoughts. That can be frightening at first. This may be what stops you from meditating.
As promised I’m reporting back on last months’ meditation of selecting a word that represents what the story I’m working on is about, in the hope that it would help me move forward in writing my novel. I selected the word anger, because I got the sense my narrator still held a lot of anger about the events that happened during the summer she is recounting. I expected that underneath that anger was sadness, disappointment, confusion and blame. I sat in meditation saying the word anger with my narrator in mind. What came up was truly unexpected.