Your Writing is a Horse

What if your writing were a horse? And what if you didn’t have to chase it down and manhandle it?

Kafka said if you could only be still–“just learn to be quiet, still, and solitary. And the world will freely offer itself to you unmasked. It has no choice; it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.”

Enjoy Koelle Simpson’s TED talk and be kind to your inner horse.

What works for you in approaching your writing more gently?

Koelle Simpson TED talk on YouTube (screenshot of Koelle and horse)

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Text © Gwyn Nichols 2012. All rights reserved. WritersResort.com
Image: YouTube screenshot

Are You Addicted to Blogging?

My last post introduced me to bloggers reporting on a poll, “How Addicted to Blogging Are You?” My own results:

I am 55% addicted to blogging.

So what does 55% mean?  I thought addiction was like pregnancy. Can someone be 55% alcoholic? I expected my blogging pathological score to be higher, given this daily practice I’m experimenting with, so I have to consider the source: it was originally sponsored by an online dating service where they probably encourage a high tolerance for online addictions. And the wording, “How Addicted Are You?” assumes a certain degree thereof.

Still, I’ll take it as freedom to encourage you to write daily, whether you blog or not. Come on in, it’s only 55% problematic.

Yes, we writers can get compulsive in the throes of a project–working crazy hours, neglecting health needs, ignoring loved ones. We can also use journaling in a meditative, exploratory way, actually listening for what our bodies and are loved ones are saying.

Addicts escape from painful feelings. Writing can immerse you in your feelings, expanding gratitude, and healing pain.

Addiction breaks every heart within striking distance. Writing can connect you with kindred souls.

Addiction is selfish; publishing, service.

Addiction damages brains, and wires them to require continuance of the self-destructive behavior. Writing fires neural pathways for memory, pattern recognition, critical thinking, problem-solving, and imagination.

Addiction destroys people and projects. Writing creates.

Another View on Blogging Itself:

James Delingpole, “Blogging’s Not a Job, It’s an Expensive Addiction” for Spectator

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Text © Gwyn Nichols 2011. All Rights Reserved.

Image from How Addicted to Blogging Are You?

The Poetry of Music

I’m just home from a university choir concert, aptly named “Waxing Poetic.” Several well-trained choirs from Arizona State University prepared sacred and humorous works, performed in a sacred space, and sent healing sound waves through my soul like a medicinal hot spring. Two of the pieces made me cry:

  • “Song for Athene” by John Tavener, combining text from the Eastern Orthodox funeral service and Shakespeare’s Hamlet
  • “There Will Be Rest” by poet Sara Teasdale, set by composer Frank Ticheli

We’re so spoiled, listening to recordings of music whenever and wherever we want–and naturally, we need those, too–but we can forget how long it’s been since we were nourished by live acoustic music.

If we want to write musically, there better be some music in our souls.

Teachers Appear

Learn a new word and hear it everywhere. Begin a practice and support appears.

As I practice breathing this year, it appears that meditation and yoga have taken over the world–several international incidents excepted.

Krista Tippett On Being March 3 2011: Seane Corn's yoga pose in front of the Taj Majal
Seane Corn at the Taj Majal

Today, my encouragement arrived by e-mail, in the newsletter from Krista Tippett On Being. Can you believe yogini Seane Corn’s stunning pose in front of the Taj Mahal? (I can’t imagine anything near that, but who knows where this could lead, one breath at a time?)

See also Krista’s blog post: Confessions of a Yoga Convert on the transformative power of her yoga practice. That, I aspire to. Yoga makes people beautiful, inside and out, one breath, one pose at a time.

Text © Gwyn Nichols 2011

Letting Your Goal Carry You

There is such joy in keeping a personal commitment. I keep blogging, logging in these little laps around the language. I keep breathing. At the end of our 21 Day Meditation Challenge, the Chopra Center’s davidi asked, “Who could have believed that this would be so effortless, fun, entertaining, engaging and powerful?” It does add up beautifully, when we engage one day at a time, plus another, and another. When the goal is simple enough and the support strong enough, the wave carries us along.

And davidji added, “As far as I know, there are eight billion people who opted not to join us over these three weeks, so you are the bold ones! You are the ones we’ve been waiting for.”

How’s your own resolution coming? Time to recommit? Revise? Or celebrate? Is your goal simple enough to be achievable, discrete enough to be parceled into your daily routines? One page a day is a long manuscript a year. One line a day is a poetry career. One kindness a day, a stronger relationship. One book read a day, your expertise.

The year is still young. What do you want to do with it day by day?

How to Stop Time

A student who’s juggling unemployment stress and family crises (while still getting his schoolwork done) asked, “Can you just tell me how to stop time?”

The same day, my son reported his friend Sarah’s Facebook update: “My oven has a button labeled Stop Time. I think they mean Stop Timer, but just in case, I’m not touching it!”

Beautiful Clock by J-eunit at Travelpod.com
"Beautiful Clock," Brussels, by J-eunit at Travelpod.com

Yes, it is possible to stop time: learn to meditate. I love the report of a Zen monk who said, “Usually, I meditate an hour a day, but today will be so busy, I’d better meditate for two.” It’s one way to stop the world and get off the ride for a few peaceful moments, then come back with the clarity to be efficient and creative. I love the way davidji of the Chopra Center puts it, saying that after meditation, we “carry a cupful, a teaspoonful, a thimbleful of stillness with us.” It sounds too simple to help–until you try it.

In several eras and situations, I’ve burned myself out, and I’m been flirting with that recently, so I’m calling more time-outs each day for prayer and meditation. Life is like swimming. If you struggle, thrash about, and panic, you’ll drown; the trick is to relax and float.

When we’re in that place of stress, panic, and burnout, we need expanded perspectives, greater self-care, and committed action. Check out these ideas:

Preventing Burnout: Signs, Symptoms, Causes, and Coping Strategies.

On my daily checklist is “someone to love, something to do, and something to look forward to.” (This might be Elvis Presley’s definition of happiness. At least that’s the earliest attribution I’ve found so far.)

As a working mom, the first two-thirds are a given. The third can be easily forgotten. But I’m easily pleased, whether it’s anticipating a simple salt soak and a good book, or the more luxurious gift of Shakespeare season tickets.

My ways of stopping time: release the past, savor the present, invite the future.

Pause at the Threshold to Breathe

Hanging Bridge
photo copyright Victor Zastol Skly / from iStockPhoto #000010809252

You already know that my resolution for 2011 (besides this blogging challenge) is to BREATHE.

To welcome support with that, I subscribed to the Chopra Center’s 21-day Meditation Challenge. Today is day 2. I laughed when davidji called it perhaps the most important day. (Showing up a second time does begin a commitment.)

For this morning, davidji focused on breath. He led us to inhale to the count of four, hold four, exhale four, and hold out four, repeating a couple of minutes. It’s always restorative to let go of everything–my thoughts, my worries, the past and the future–and receive my gratitude–for breath itself. Even those brief moments shift the energy into peace, contentment, wisdom, and creativity.

And my favorite part was his sharing his own practice. Whenever davidji comes to a closed door–home, car, office, or garage–he pauses those sixteen seconds to repeat that breathing pattern, and then he opens the door. What a beautiful way to be present at each threshold.  Perhaps in my case, I need to pause at the open doors as well. And bridges? Definitely.

If you’d like to join the same meditation series, here it is.

Text © Gwyn Nichols 2011

Photo © Victor Zastol Skly / from iStockPhoto #000010809252