Joy Held's Writer Wellness

"Be well, write well."

Monday Meditation: Stillness

on February 28, 2011

Monday Meditation: Stillness

There are five primary areas of practice to the Writer Wellness plan. Every other week I will post an idea for relaxation (Monday Meditation,) creative play (Tuesday Tickle,) fitness and exercise (Wednesday Workout,) journaling and misc. (Thursday Thought,) and nutrition (Friday Feast.)

I’ll never forget the first time I saw a Tibetan monk fall asleep sitting up. His group was visiting our local art center and building a sand mandala dedicated to peace which was then carried to the Ohio River and added to the flow to send the peaceful notion downstream. The fellow who fell asleep on a bench in the art center was older and not working on the mandala at the time. But I watched him closer than I did the artisans because the stillness in his body was enviable. How could he fall asleep so quickly and so soundly in the middle of the afternoon on a hard bench? In a matter of moments he was bent over and snoring softly. Of course, he woke up when he fell off the bench and hit his knee on the linoleum, but he went into a deep sleep quickly. Jet lag? Or the practiced ability to calm his nervous system.

Is sleep meditation? No. Sleep is sleep. Meditation is conscious relaxation. The monk was not meditating although that’s probably what he started out doing. Close eyes. Count breaths in. Count breaths out. Then, oops, snore. I tell my yoga students that the only sound I’m offended by in class is snoring. It means your brain is bored and went to sleep to avoid the boring situation. And that you got up early after staying up late on the Internet, but sleep, while necessary, is not meditation. And I don’t think my yoga classes are boring. So don’t snore in my yoga class. And talking means you aren’t concentrating on your breath, so keep talking at a minimum too. Because meditation is more than sitting still and breathing. Yoga is more than physical exercise. Sleep has nothing to do with practicing yoga, but yoga helps you sleep once you’ve learned the basics. Confused? Breathe and stay with me. Don’t fall asleep.

The basic principle is stillness, but that’s a harder concept to achieve than we think sometimes. We know what stillness means, but can we really achieve it for any length of time and why would we want to?

Stillness is to be free from disturbance. That in itself sounds almost impossible in this day and age. Technology has contributed to attaching one leash after another on us to the point where no hour of the day or night is free from disturbance because someone somewhere has access to your peace and quiet via the telephone, the TV, the computer, the noise in the street, and on and on. How can we possibly achieve stillness of body and mind when others are free to yank our chains at their wills? We must have the discipline to set boundaries. We set limits to when and where and who can interrupt our moments of stillness and refuse to be disturbed (unless they are sure the cruise missile is definitely aimed at the house and has already been launched. Then they can cross the boundary and disrupt our stillness.)

But other people are offended when we set boundaries and prohibit them from crossing the line when we need peace and quiet. Keep two thoughts in your mind about setting boundaries: 1)I am a valuable human being deserving of respect and consideration; 2)Boundaries are healthy and keep me safe from issues at times I cannot and should not deal with them.

When you aren’t meditating, the boundary lines are different and folks can come across and pester all they want. You are rested and secure in your mind and can handle whatever they have to throw at you. But when it’s time to be still and rest the body, mind, and soul, let no one enter. How?

Turn the phone off. Put up a sign, “Meditation in progress. Be Kind.” Lock the door. Put the pets in their room or crate. Notify people in advance that you aren’t available at this vulnerable time. Keep a schedule so others will get used to not interrupting you. Show the same respect to the boundaries of others.

Meanwhile, remember to look for a digital or print copy of Writer Wellness, A Writer’s Path to Health and Creativity at Who Dares Wins Publishing, http://whodareswinspublishing.com 

And check out these great blogs for ideas to keep your writing and publishing healthy and prosperous.

http://writeitforward.wordpress.com/ Bob Mayer

http://jenniholbrooktalty.wordpress.com/ Jenni Holbrook 

http://warriorwriters.wordpress.com/ Kristen Lamb

http://inspiration4writers.blogspot.com/ Inspiration for Writers, Inc.

Be well, write well.

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