Thursday, February 7, 2013

Wild and Crazy Thoughts

Meditation, what is it anyway?
Some say it is emptying the mind of all thought, some say it's a way toward a state of peace and still others say they can’t sit still that long.
Of course meditation can be any/all of those and more. Generally, meditation is used to dismantle thoughts that have compulsively taken over and are causing us stress or illness, leaving us in a more peaceful state.

Spiraling down, through doubts and fears
I was inundated with a bout of depressing thoughts, fears, and can’t dos this past week with all that I had to do to ramp up for publication of my new novel, Dance the Dream Awake. I think you could probably tell I was wigging out if you read my last post, Blogger's Block or Puddle of Muddle. My friend, Sunny, slapped me upside the head and quickly stopped the downward cycle.
I began to wonder why these things happen; these debilitating thoughts that come and drive us crazy and make us feel incapacitated in some way.  


The fog cleared enough for me to recognize a pattern in the workings of the mind--we cycle through our doubts and fears occasionally (or more often for some) and the one thing that helps me gain back my balance is meditation. I had not been doing it lately with all the to-do things pulling at me.

I have also been working on writing a different novel, set in Heian Japan, 980 A.D., and the voice of Master Kana (teacher to my samurai) came and said to me, “Be like the reed that bends in the storm that whips through the land. After the winds have died down, it rights itself, stronger than before.”

Don’t you just love that? The characters you make up come and talk to you? They don’t? Well, maybe you need to meditate more.

After I got further relaxed, another character, Akemi, came and gave me some advice while I watched her combing out the hair of my main female character, Miyoshi, “Untangle the knots that have formed in the winds of confusion.”

So I started deep breathing (it felt like I'd been holding my breath for over a week) to free up my chest area of all the constricted feelings there, after which I was able to empty my mind of fears, and limiting thoughts that had gripped and tightened my body.

Then what? Allow Space around you.
I felt the now cleared, space around me, like an artist staring at his empty, white canvas the moment before he begins to apply the paint, asking himself, “How will I approach this painting, what do I want to accomplish today, what feelings do I want to evoke when I finish and look back at it?”

Too many to-dos and not enough for-mes

Finally, I asked myself, “What one thing will I do today for me?” Not the from the shoulds or to-do lists, but for me—on my own personal canvas, just because.

I started to tell you what I was going to do, but then decided no--I will just do it for me.

Meditation--what does that look like for you, or not, if you don’t. C’mon, fess up. How do you relieve stress?

Do you have something you are going to do just for you today?


Marilyn Meredith a.k.a. F. M. Meredith said...

Good post. I'll probably watch a movie tonight. That's one of my favorite Just for Me.

Unknown said...

I wish I could find time for just-for-me! I'm getting better at it as I get older, but this is one area I need to improve upon. Great BloG!!


Cora said...

When I watch TV at night, it feels more like collapsing from working on the computer all day and zoning out and less like a for-me activity.

Cora said...

I boils down to priorities. When the crazy thoughts subside, and I decide what is most important in life, then it is easier to make time just for me.

Anonymous said...

Like you, Cora, some of my "for me" activities are really just "collapsing" activities. like TV, or solitaire. I use them for winding down, but they don't get me in touch with anything. I have never tried meditation, but I think it sounds like a good idea!

Lesley Diehl said...

I find that when I get too close to my writing and promotional efforts, I need to get away. For me it's not as esoteric as meditation unless you consider staring at a blouse in a consignment shop for ten minutes a form of the art. Ithink myh mantra should be "buy at half price, buy at half price."

Cora said...

The older I get, the more I feel the need to calm my mind. Meditation works for me because when I get calm, I am more receptive to my muse. If you do decide to try it, guided meditations are a good way to get started.

Cora said...

Hey, if shopping works for you, why not? I like that mantra-ha!ha!

Tami Clayton said...

I am going through a really tough time right now and cycling thoughts and swirling doubts are really taking their toll on my creative energy and my overall well-being. I've considered meditating but haven't given it a try. I find exercise is the only thing to calm my mind lately. That and watching a good movie or t.v. show to give my brain something else to focus on for a bit. I'm glad meditation has been so helpful to you.

Ellen Gregory said...

"Too many to-dos and not enough for-mes" -- Oh, that is so true. I love it.
I truly don't know the way around my hefty to-do list at the moment. Meditation sounds like a fantastic idea, but I wouldn't know where to start. Maybe I should take up yoga?

S.M. Hutchins said...

Thanks to you, I finally started Susan Piver's Open Heart Project meditations today (after having them stack up for two weeks). Thank you for your question to the WANA group earlier this week and thank you for this post. If it weren't for these things, I probably wouldn't have thought to try meditation this morning and I'm feeling so much better because I did.

Marja said...

Sorry I'm so late weighing in. I sit back and take a deep breath, and have some chocolate. I'm not joking. And then I read someone else's book for a few minutes. It takes me away from everyday life, which is what I need sometimes.
Marja McGraw

elizabethfais said...

Master Kana is very wise. To try and stop the fearful thoughts from coming can add more stress. Letting the thoughts blow by without buying into them is the trick (of bending like a reed in the wind). NOT that I do that all the time. I get caught up in my fears and self doubts too. Taking a walk (moving meditation) helps me clear my head. I try to appreciate all the good in my life, and remind myself to focus on the things I accomplish rather than the things that still need to be done. Sitting meditation is wonderful, but it doesn't have to be for hours at a time. My life is too busy for that any more, so I'm learning to look for the peace spaces within the chaos. ;-)

Sally Carpenter said...

Good post. As writers We're overworked and underappreciated. This weekend I made a long list of what I need to do, including finish a novel, and some more publishing/marketing obligations came my way. Ack! I was stressed. Watching my fave old TV shows helps me relax. I've started praying the rosary and the first time I did it, I was so relaxed I almost fell asleep! The secret is moving the mind off the negative thoughts and into something positive--easier said than done.