Writing as Discovery

December 21, 2009

We also want to find out what our own inner self wants to reveal to us in the midst of the clatter of the world. This takes letting go of our manic lifestyle long enough to pause and be silent so that we can hear the chords of our own being above the cacophony of our distracting and seductive world.

Poetry is too intimate to be nailed down in strictly linear terms. Reading a poem is more like comprehending a multifaceted totality all at once than like following logical steps to a single conclusion. It is more like entering spirals of possibilities than like walking a straight line to a single destination.
~David Richo, Being True to Life: Poetic Paths to Personal Growth

Writing is discovery, and psychotherapist David Richo affirms this with his wonderful new book. I believe poetry is the written form that brings us closest to the unconscious in us, and it can be as revealing as our dreams. I have taken Richo’s suggestion and begun writing my journal in poetry-length lines.

As I read this book, I encountered over and over things that resonated with me–“spirals of possibilities” not the least of them. (My new business blog is called “Spiraling,” and I use a nautilus as a sort of logo–see “My Other Blog” box at right). Imagine my surprise when I visited Richo’s website and found a free downloadable book with a nautilus as the cover illustration! Positively synchronistic.

This book is a gem for anyone who writes poetry, who wants to write poetry, or who just wants to better understand the self. Richo provides solid guidance and writing and meditation (visualization) exercises that will help the reader uncover the poem that wants to write itself in the service of healing.

See other entries on this theme: “Why I Write” and “Being Flow.”


Solitude, Silence, Spaces

December 13, 2008

Every kind of creative work demands solitude, and being alone, constructively alone, is a prerequisite for every phase of the creative process. ~Barbara Powell

Winter is a natural time for hibernation, re-creation of ourselves, inward exploration. After three days of being with others, I am relishing my Saturday morning solitude. Jung said, “Silence is for me a fount of healing which makes my life worth living. Talking is often a torment for me, and I need many days of silence to recover from the futility of words.” I can relate to that!

Yet how many of us take time to listen to ourselves, to retreat into silence and solitude as healing practices? It is very difficult in today’s world of instant and ever-present communication. Our environments have increasingly become loud, busy, cluttered palettes without the pauses that allow us to make meaning of them.

In The Artist’s Way, Julia Cameron says,”Creativity is God’s gift to us. Using our creativity is our gift back to God.” In a world where there are few spaces and silences, I think we must protect that dreamy idleness Ueland calls moodling (more here); that percolation process Bonni Goldberg writes about in her book on writing, Beyond the Words.

How do you create spaces and silences that help you digest your experiences, that make room for creative response?


Balance

March 2, 2008

The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities. ~Stephen Covey

In the attitude of silence the soul finds the path in a clearer light, and what is elusive and deceptive resolves itself into crystal clearness. Our life is a long and arduous quest after Truth and the soul requires inward restfulness to attain its full height. ~Mahatma Gandhi

Without great solitude no serious work is possible. ~Pablo Picasso 

I have recently submitted requests for vacation days several months in advance. In May I will travel with friends to a state park for a few days R&R; in June, I plan to see Iris DeMent in concert; and I have scheduled several Mondays off to extend my weekends. The Mondays in particular will allow me space and time for silence, solitude and creativity.

For too long, my paid work has been a priority that crowded out others. While I love my work, I have to consciously attend to relationships, home, solitude and rest in order to maintain balance. How do you achieve balance in your life among the many demands you face and roles you play?


Sleeplessness

January 10, 2008

True silence is the rest of the mind, and is to the spirit what sleep is to the body, nourishment and refreshment.  ~William Penn

As I often do these days, it seems, I woke at 3:00 a.m. with a sinus headache. My experience tells me that the only cure is to get up and be vertical for a while. And I actually love the silence of the morning. There is something about silence that is like a warm cloak on a cold day; it feels luxurious, comforting, and calming. I am grateful for silence.

Solitude and silence are grounding, too. Thomas Á Kempis said, “If you wish to grow in your spiritual life, you must not allow yourself to be caught up in the workings of the world; you must find time alone, away from the noise and confusion, away from the allure of power and wealth.” Who among us today knows the joy and value of solitude, of silence? There is something disturbing about the ubiquitous cell phone, and the apparent addiction of so many people to that form of connection. What are all these people talking about? When do they listen to their own hearts?

Later today I will conduct a training session for about 30 public library trustees. Tonight I will visit with two close friends, share stories and laughter, and bask in their loving presence. And all I do today will be more mindful, more effective, more enjoyable for the solitude and silence that have fed me this morning.


Speech

December 2, 2007

Before you speak ask yourself–is it kind, is it necessary, is it true, does it improve the silence?  ~Sai Baba

The more faithfully you listen to the voice within you, the better you will hear what is sounding outside. Only he who listens can speak.  ~Dag Hammarskjold

My friends remind me that speech is powerful and that I should consider its necessity carefully as well as its truth. I have to confess that after my post yesterday, I didn’t sit on the zafu, as I had planned, but rather continued to stew about things.

Today I must go to a funeral and shop for Christmas, but I resolve to find some time (if only 10 minutes) to listen to the “voice within” in order to better “hear what is sounding outside.” I am so good at planning and resolving, and it is so difficult to practice. But I am aware of my aspiration to right action, right speech. And so, so grateful for my friends.


Silence & Healing

December 1, 2007

Silence means you are under complete control of all your emotional reactions, which are conquered in silence. Everything that happens in our bodies happens in complete silence. And when you start hearing from it, then you know something is wrong! The principle of healing is to invoke silence–going into the silence.  ~Mother Serena

Both concepts–silence and healing–resonate for me today. So I will sit on my zafu and be silent, as I need emotional healing. I am weary of the world this morning, so I will think on all the things for which I am grateful. I will listen to the inner voice for clarity. And I will do nothing today out of anger, will not express my frustration and disappointment while I am weary, as all may look different on the other side of sitting.