Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Dear Writers,

if you are interested in finding your best stories, funniest punch-lines and greatest titles: I suggest going on a silent meditation retreat for a week or more. At Vipassana retreats, you are not allowed to talk, write or read. Based on my experience and the experience of others, it is highly likely you will have your most excellent, cleverest, and profoundest ideas yet. Most likely, you will silently crack yourself up with your own brilliance over and over again. A good friend of mine on retreat, broke the rules, found a pen, and secretly wrote her genius musings all over her arm under a long sleeve shirt. Unfortunately, I'm punctilious to a fault and I didn't break any rules on my retreat. Now, I've got nothing. All of the brilliant plans that kept me so entertained and excited to go home and start writing---are gone.

Julia Cameron weaves a lot of informal meditation into her advice for artists. She talks about paying attention as an antidote to pain: "In times of pain, when the future is too terrifying to contemplate and the past to painful to remember, I have learned to pay attention to right now. The precise moment I was in was always the only safe place for me. Each moment, taken alone, was always bearable. In the exact now, we are all, always alright. Yesterday the marriage may have ended. Tomorrow the cat may die. The phone call from the lover, for all my waiting, may not ever come, but just at the moment, just now, that's all alright. I am breathing in and out. Realizing this, I begin to notice that each moment was not without its beauty."

For me, paying attention to each day has helped me get over the loss of all of the sparkling ideas I lost to the rhythm of my breath that silent week . The number 7 follows me everywhere, there's a hummingbird mistaking my wind chime for a flower, and the moon's light, every night changes what is visible and left invisible.


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