Joy Held's Writer Wellness

"Be well, write well."

Online Workshop: Writer Wellness

“Be well, write well.”

WRITER WELLNESS ONLINE WORKSHOP

STARTS: Monday, October 4

ENDS: Friday, October 29

COST: $29.00

DETAILS: Lessons, activities, and discussion covering the five key WW concepts

*Journaling

*Fitness

*Relaxation

*Nutrition

*Creative play

Taught in private Groups.io forum

12 lessons

REGISTER: Email writerwellness at gmail dot com

WRITER WELLNESS & FIVE THINGS FOR YOUR WRITING

By Joy E. Held

The idea for my book and workshop Writer Wellness: A Writer’s Path to Health and Creativity (Headline Books, Inc., 2020) came to me when some of my critique partners asked how they could be my clones. They wanted to shadow me for a week to see what I did every day that led to my prolific publishing (over 500 articles and counting,) life as a homeschooling mom, and part-time hatha yoga teacher. Up to that point, I hadn’t done any self-examination of my processes, but when they asked, I stepped back and watched myself for a month while documenting my doings and beings in a journal. This article is a peek into what I learned.

Please take out a pen and paper (or your phone or computer) and list five things you’ve done in the last thirty days to promote/support your writing.

Now list five challenges or obstacles that you believe are standing in the way of accomplishing your writing goals.

Next, list five writing wishes or desires you want to come true.

Following the Writer Wellness plan will help you to always have five things on those lists.  It will also allow you to maintain a level of health and creativity that some writers are missing.

Are you happy with your writing in general?

Are you happy with your health?

Do you ever notice a direct relationship to the productivity and quality of your writing and quality of your life?

A physically, mentally, and emotionally healthy individual is by far a more productive, creative, and pleasant person.  This is evidenced by the fact that many corporations have implemented programs to keep employees happy and healthy.  Programs range from day care centers in the workplace to personal trainers for every ten employees.  A healthy, happy employee is more productive, misses less work, and is a more cost-effective employee.

As a writer, you are the employer and the employed.  Happiness, productivity, and health are definite factors in the quality of work you produce.  It is therefore in your best interest as a writer to do everything you can to stay healthy and be the best writer you can be.

But where are you supposed to get the time?  Let’s not jump ahead of ourselves to the time factor.  Hopefully, you will instinctively see that working these ideas into your life will make positive use of your time while adding to the quality of your life and the productivity of your work.

The whole premise of Writer Wellness is that creativity and productivity are crucially dependent upon an overall quality of life.  This includes the physical, mental, emotional, communal, and spiritual aspects of life.

To serve the purposes of Writer Wellness, I’ve broken down a writer’s quality of life into five interdependent components necessary to sustain a healthful, creative life. 

The five key concepts of Writer Wellness are JOURNALING, EXERCISE, RELAXATION, PROPER NUTRITION, AND CREATIVE PLAY.  These areas contribute to an overall wellness way of living and working.

I was raised in my mother’s dancing school.  Before she retired after 52 years, she kept the books, wrote the grants and publicity announcements, directed weekly rehearsals, and taught five ballet classes a week. Thanks to her excellent example, the principles of physical fitness and eating right were pounded into me from an early age.  At age fourteen, I began the Writer Wellness life (even though I hadn’t labeled it yet,) when a local newspaper carried a weekly column I wrote about my junior high school.  I saw my name in print.  I was hooked. From then on, I was a dancer and a writer. 

I discovered yoga, meditation, and modern dance in college, and everything fell into place for me.  Thirty plus years later, I still journal almost daily unless I’m working intensely on a writing project, exercise five to six times a week, follow a strict eating plan with supplements, practice daily meditation, and engage in creative play through art journaling, crafting, and scrapbooking.

When other writers in my critique group asked me how I published so much, I reviewed my life and named the process “Writer Wellness.”  Now I teach other writers the basic principles and encourage them to find their own versions of the five concepts.

Today I maintain myself as a writer by incorporating each of the five key concepts of Writer Wellness into my day. Depending on obligations and scheduling, I’m able to journal, exercise, follow a prescribed food program, and meditate seven days a week. The creative play happens more on the weekends when I’m not writing, editing, promoting, or teaching online. I have two new book releases in 2020,  a two-book contract with an independent publisher, teach college English composition online, teach hatha yoga three times a week, and run online workshops for various writing associations. I’m also on the board of directors for my RWA chapters.

You can do this as well.

Looking back to the lists of five things you made at the beginning of this article, make a pact with yourself to create a new way of life that will support your goals as a writer and a healthy, productive person. My book and workshop will show you the way so that you’ll always have five things done every month to help you live the writing dream.

The workshop I’m leading October 4-29, 2021 is a detailed look at the five key concepts of Writer Wellness and an exploration of how you can incorporate the practice into your life. With Writer Wellness as the foundation, you can achieve the writing dreams and personal goals you desire.

Be well, write well. See you in workshop!

All good things,

Joy

WRITER WELLNESS ONLINE WORKSHOP

STARTS: Monday, October 4

ENDS: Friday, October 29

COST: $29.00

DETAILS: Lessons, activities, and discussion covering the five key WW concepts

*Journaling

*Fitness

*Relaxation

*Nutrition

*Creative play

Taught in private Groups.io forum

12 lessons

REGISTER: Email writerwellness at gmail dot com

Leave a comment »

Change your writing life for the better with this online workshop

Imagine being a creative, healthy, writing machine 365 days a year. Regardless of your genre, the tips in my online workshop Writer Wellness: A Writer’s Path to Health and Creativity will guide you to realizing your potential as a creative person.

I have been sustaining good health and mountains of creative energy for many years by following this program, and I can help you learn the tricks then customize the program to suit your needs.

Writer Wellness centers around five fundamental practices:

  • Journaling
  • Physical exercise
  • Relaxation/meditation
  • Sound nutritional choices
  • Creative play

These components are already helping hundreds of past students who learned the particulars then organized each one around their needs and lifestyles. You can do this as well!

For the first time ever, I’m leading small-group online workshops that include all of the following:

  • Private online forum in Groups.io
  • Self-paced lessons (12)
  • Live chats (weekly)
  • Discussions (online)
  • 24/7 access to the course and
  • One-year access to the online content
  • Print copy of the book* (signed 😊)
  • Bookmark
  • Membership in a private “graduates” forum when you finish the program
  • AND
  • Personal one-on-one 30-minute coaching session via Zoom with me at the conclusion of the course!

There are strict start dates for the upcoming Fall 2021 sessions. The next workshop begins on

13 September 2021

When you sign up, you’ll receive full access on the start date to the course content to read at your convenience. The workshop runs for four weeks with new lessons and suggested activities posted three times a week in one of the main areas (journaling, exercise, relaxation, nutrition, and creative play.)

This workshop has never been available to the public until now. Only private writing organizations and their members have experienced this course.

The special introductory price is $97.00 which covers the online course, a print copy of the companion book, everything listed above, and the private coaching session!

Registration is limited to 15 persons, and you can register by contacting me at writerwellness at gmail dot com. You will receive a response from me with instructions on how to pay for the course.

The price will go up after this session! Alert your creative friends.

It’s more important than ever to maintain sound physical, mental, and emotional health so that you can reap the rewards of good health and being able to write the stories you want to share with the world.

From the beginning of time, stories have served to bind us together. Your story matters. Tell it. But if you don’t feel good or your health isn’t what it should be, you don’t feel like putting words on the page. Writer Wellness is an individualized approach to keeping you happy, healthy, and creatively productive.

If you have any questions, send an email to writerwellness at gmail dot com, and I’ll respond as quickly as possible.

I look forward to opening the door to your better life and awesome writing.

Be well, write well,

Joy

P.S. This offer expires on Wednesday, September 8, 2021. Please register before that date and feel free to share this offer with friends.

*Currently available to ship in the continental US only.

https://headlinebooks.com/product/writer-wellness-a-writers-path-to-health-and-creativity/

Leave a comment »

A Liquid Mind Can Be Messy

20161129_173712A Liquid Mind Can Be Messy

 

A singular goal of meditation is to learn acceptance and therefore patience. If we accept the truth of ourselves and decide to live that authenticity in our daily activities, we will surely become more aware of our inadequacies. By the same token, we notice these weaknesses in other people. “We are only human,” (and flawed ones at that) becomes an overused excuse for not wanting to make the effort to be better, to change.

If meditation practice brings us face to face with our true natures, then why would we want to do it? Because knowing the reality of who we are releases us from the burden of trying to be something and someone we aren’t. It’s a very liberating feeling to make choices from a strong and energetic place of, “This is who I am, and this decision comes from that source, the me-energy I am.”

IMG_1489

How can a few minutes of sitting motionless and without dwelling on thinking bring us to a place of fully understanding our true natures? These moments are the only ones in the day when we are free from having to meet anyone else’s expectations. Our lives are all built upon living up to the demands, requests, promises, and instructions given to us by other people. They are perfectly within their rights to offer these requests.

Our personal stress comes from trying to meet obligations put upon us that do not match what we believe about who we are and what we’re capable of. It’s stressful to be inside this pressure yet it’s how everyone’s life is lived in contemporary society. There are rules, boundaries, expectations, precautions, and on and on that define how we live. These demands do not have to define who we live our lives as.

Meditation allows us to discover and stay connected to our authentic selves and later it gives us the strength to accept and appreciate ourselves and others regardless of flaws. Because we learn in meditation to accept and appreciate our true natures, we are better equipped to offer the same considerations to other people. But we’re only human.

shower

I call this having a liquid mind because during meditation I am soft and flowing physically, mentally, and emotionally and the feeling is like warm water all around and through me. After taking a deep cleansing breath, opening my eyes, and getting up from the meditation cushion, I notice this liquid feeling, and I make a point to say to myself, “I will do my best to carry this warm, juicy feeling into my experiences today.”

Sometimes it is easy. Sometimes it is messy. Like a coffee cup filled beyond the brim, hot feelings can overflow and burn me when I encounter people with agendas, misconceptions, and fears.

Cleaning set photo

I’m only human, a flawed one at that, but I try to pause before I respond to the burning liquid being thrown my way. I try, but sometimes, because I’m only human, my true self says, “You need to clean that up, honey. I left my maid uniform at home.” And I go back to the cushion seeking more practice at patience and acceptance.

Is meditation helping you cope with something or someone in a better way?

Be well, write well.

~hugs,

Joy

cropped-writer_wellness_cover3

Leave a comment »

Monday Meditation: The Mindful Writer Is A Must Read

Summer is when I tackle the TBR (to be read) pile of books and magazines I’ve accumulated during the school year. My teaching schedule is lighter in the summer and like a lot of writers, I use the summer to catch up on my reading. And go to writing cons!

 

One book in particular has captivated my attention early, and even though I’ve read it twice already (it’s a small book,) I just keep coming back to it. The newest book from creative non-fiction writing professor Dinty W. Moore, THE MINDFUL WRITER, NOBLE TRUTHS OF THE WRITING LIFE, is a pocket-sized treasure full of good stuff I’ve found insightful, thought provoking, and entertaining. This is not a book review, by the way. It’s just a blog about what’s on my mind. And since books in many forms are usually always on my mind (a common writer’s affliction,) I’m tying Moore’s book in with today’s topic of meditation.

 

The Mindful WriterTHE MINDFUL WRITER is a clever weaving together of the Buddha’s Four Noble Truths with the writing life. Moore’s inventive perspective has created “The Four Noble Truths For Writers.” But first the Buddha’s list:

1.Life is dukkha (suffering, dissatisfaction.)

2.The cause of dukkha is our desire.

3.It is possible, however, to end this desire.

4.The way to end it is through the Eightfold Path: right views, right aim, right speech, right action, right living, right effort, right mindfulness, right concentration.

 

Moore’s list (abbreviated because I highly recommend this book be read by all writers at any level):

1.The writing life is difficult,…

2.Much of this dissatisfaction comes from…

3.There is a way to lessen the disappointment…

4.The way to accomplish this is to make both the practice of writing and the work…

 

At first glance, many writers might pass over this small epistle in favor of something else more “relevant.” What is more relevant to a writer, or to anyone for that matter, than a manageable size helping of gentle guidance and goodwill written by a writer who knows what we all know. It’s a journey. Wear comfortable shoes and pause every once in a while to savor the moment.

Meanwhile, remember to look for a digital or print copy of Writer Wellness, A Writer’s Path to Health and Creativity at Cool Gus Publishing, http://www.coolguspublishing.com.

Have you subscribed to this Writer Wellness blog yet? Get email updates when a new post is added. Click “subscribe” and leave your email. That’s it and thanks in advance!

Be well, write well.

 

http://www.joyeheld.com

joyeheld@gmail.com

Copyright Joy Held 2012. All rights reserved.

1 Comment »

Wednesday Workout: Walking Meditation to Achieve Balance

It’s National Meditation Month and it’s Wednesday Workout day here at Writer Wellness, and I’ve been able to combine the two ideas. Have you ever tried walking meditation? It can be simple and effective and a real test for the type A personality. That’s a good thing. The hyper person needs to work on achieving a balanced state of being by slowing down more often in a conscientious way. The laid back type B individual could do with a bit more pep in their step on a regular basis to work towards the same goal: balance. Both bodies can learn a new value from the practice of walking meditation.

Walking meditation is pretty agreeable to just about any way you want to go about it. Just walk and be aware of your surroundings and your breath. Go outside for the fifteen minute excursion where you notice everything in small detail and intentionally appreciate it in your mind and even in your journal pages later. For me, I have an issue with graffiti. Defacement of other people’s property doesn’t sit right with me. Since I live in the city, graffiti is everywhere. On walking meditation trips I take in the painted scrawl and intentionally identify it as art and writing with a spray can of paint. It truly is a bold statement of territorialism and sends a multi-faceted message. I think to myself, “A writer wrote that.” At least I’m trying.

Walking meditation can also be a slow, patient, meticulous walk around the room gingerly placing one foot in front of the other. Make an intentional effort to match your breath to each step. It’s amazing how intense walking meditation can become and how internal this practice can turn out to be just by focusing your attention on every step and the sensation of the soles of your feet gradually connecting to the floor in a slow, patterned manner. It provides a wake-up call for comprehending time because it’s amazing how little space you can cover in ten minutes of slow, detailed walking. And it’s a good exercise break although admittedly you’ll need to schedule the cardio session another time. Not much sweat builds up during walking meditation if done properly.

And then there is appreciation. Regardless of personality type, taking a few moments to intentionally appreciate what your mind and body have helped you achieved to date takes the edge off of what you still need to get done in life…one slow, meticulous, detailed step at a time.

Have you ever tried walking meditation? What did you notice?

Meanwhile, remember to look for a digital or print copy of Writer Wellness, A Writer’s Path to Health and Creativity at Cool Gus Publishing.

Have you subscribed to this Writer Wellness blog yet? Get email updates when a new post is added. Click “subscribe” and leave your email. That’s it and thanks in advance!

Be well, write well.

Joy E. Held

 

joyeheld@gmail.com

 

http://twitter.com/Joy_E_Held

 

Leave a comment »

Tuesday Tickle: Summer Health and Safety Tips for Writers

Summer creates a host of diversions and dangers to writers. To prepare you to guard against the pitfalls, I’ve designed some summer health and safety tips for writers. Just because we are a solitary group (do oxymorons distract you like they do me?) nonetheless we have to be careful in the summer just like anyone else.

 

 

Sunburn

While it’s okay to get some vitamin D rays from the extra potent sun, don’t overdo it. Go ahead and take the lap top or the notepad and pen outside, but stay out of the sun. Writers in the zone always lose track of time and trying to keep on a deadline while your burned skin is flaking away painfully is not my idea of summer fun. Research sun screens (look at the Blue Lizard line of products) and enjoy the healthful benefits of the sun but don’t stay out too long.

Caffeine Overdose

While coffee is the writer’s drink of choice, the caffeine is extra problematic in the warm months. It acts as a diuretic, that is, it increases the body’s inclination to release fluids. In the summer this can inadvertently contribute to dehydration. Drink more alternative fluids in the summer such as those that replace electrolytes (think: what do they dump on the winning coach at football games?) Try iced coffee for the caffeine buzz but double up on the good, pure water for every glass of caffeinated beverage you inject just to be safe. Self-check your hydration level by pinching the skin on your forearm. If it snaps back into place quickly and does NOT remain pale, then you’re doing okay. If the whiteness where you pinched yourself remains white, get some more fluids quickly.

Eye Strain

With the extra daylight hours comes the desire to read more. That’s good! Read more in places where other people can see you read. It helps keep reading on people’s front burner to-do list. Summer reading lists are great but added to your regular writing workload could increase eye strain. Take regular breaks, meditate with an eye mask on (like the one you wear to sleep) or take a short power nap with a rice filled eye pillow over your eyes to relieve the tension in your eyes.

Writers need extra care and attention in the summer. Please leave a comment about what do you do to avoid summer troubles and keep safe as a writer.

Meanwhile, remember to look for a digital or print copy of Writer Wellness, A Writer’s Path to Health and Creativity at Cool Gus Publishing.

Have you subscribed to this Writer Wellness blog yet? Get email updates when a new post is added. Click “subscribe” and leave your email. That’s it and thanks in advance!

Be well, write well.

 

Joy E. Held

joyeheld@gmail.com

http://twitter.com/Joy_E_Held

 

 

 

Leave a comment »

Monday Meditation: “Easy” Cross-legged Seat?

In yoga, life is considered a series of “dukha” or sufferings one after the other, but the lessons of yoga are principally about teaching us to cope with suffering through relaxations or “sukha”. This is the art of relaxing and to yoga this means being comfortable and at ease. It means stillness (sukha) in the body and mind purposely practiced to counter act the opposite feelings of stress (dukha.) Therefore, the “easy pose” is taught as a physical position to take when trying to relax. But for some people the “easy pose” is anything but easy, so why is it called “easy”?

 

The “easy” translation simply means being the opposite of uneasy or busy and stressed. Although the specific sitting position known as the “easy pose” is traditional, the mere act of sitting or semi-reclining and being motionless can be considered an easy pose. After all, not everyone can sit on the floor with their legs crossed at the ankles for an extended period of time. It would take human or mechanical intervention to get some of them back to standing contradicting the “easy” part.

 

An “easy pose” is one that allows us to be at ease with ourselves without the urge to fall completely asleep. Most of us are conditioned to begin snoring within a few minutes if we find ourselves lying flat on our backs. Happens all the time in yoga. Corpse pose at the end of class is regularly mistaken by some exhausted individual as nap time and the rest of us are serenaded by the heavy, unburdened breath of someone who has fallen asleep on the mat. That’s okay, but as I’ve said before, sleep is not meditation. Sleep is sleep and meditation is an easy, comfortable state of relaxed alertness.

 

In meditation we are without the normal business of our bodies and minds (thoughts, movements, sounds.) Instead we are physically still. The only movement is what’s necessary to breathe. And our thoughts are fewer and slower. Thoughts are normal but they bring with them varying degrees of stress, so during meditation the fewer the better. It requires a low level of consciousness or awareness to “quiet the mind” as desired by meditation. The lack of thoughts equals fewer opportunities to be stressed by thinking which equates to feeling at ease—without stress. An easy pose is one that is comfortable enough to bring on the sensation of ease without allowing us to fall asleep.

 

Sitting cross-legged on the floor, a stack of blankets, or a meditation cushion IS a comfortable pose for some. Others may need to sit in a chair with feet flat on the floor or lie back on a stack of pillows or a bolster to keep the body from lying completely flat. As long as we are physically at ease, our breath and thoughts will eventually join in and calm down. This is “sukha” or being without the suffering implied by the stress or “dukha” of physical movement and mental stimulation.

 

The honest challenge is developing the stamina to remain in this position of ease for a particular length of time. Practice, practice, practice and the body will gradually remember its state of comfort and be more cooperative when asked to be still. Remember our bodies and minds are very practiced at zooming all the time. The opposite is challenging (dukha) but rewarding (sukha.) This is balance.

 

What is your “easy pose”?

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.

Have you subscribed to this Writer Wellness blog yet? Get email updates when a new post is added. Click “subscribe” and leave your email. That’s it and thanks in advance!

Be well, write well.

 

Joy E. Held

 

Leave a comment »

Wednesday Workout: Bodybuilding Between the Books?

National Library Week, you belong at your library, April 8-14, 2012

National Library Week 2012

I don’t see many exercise classes taught at libraries, do you? If you know of a library that sponsors a regular exercise class, send us the link. The lack of workouts at the library doesn’t surprise me because most facilities don’t have the space or equipment. Some do not want to run anything longterm because it keeps other patrons from accessing the space. This all makes sense, but so does offering courses on hatha yoga, meditation, and walking at your local library.

Here’s an example of a hatha yoga class in a library http://www.myacpl.org/events/yoga-people-50-and-2012-04-11. The course is ongoing and has been a success for several years. However, like most library settings, the space is limited. Namaste to instructor Linda Cochran for continuing this great program in the Athens Public Library, Athens, Ohio.

Here’s a very good article about the rationale for libraries extending their services to include fitness courses http://www.governing.com/topics/health-human-services/Libraries-Now-Offering-Books-and-Workouts.html

Put this way, it makes a great deal of sense in spite of the limitations and hesitations to blend your books with your bodybuilding by getting it all at the local library. In his fab book SPARK, Dr. John J. Ratey with Eric Hagerman, (a book I require in my college courses,) explains the benefits of exercise to brain health and overall wellbeing when he recommends exercise first then hitting the books. Exercise improves brain elasticity and grows new brain cells capable of absorbing new information.

So the next time you’re at the library, look around for a fitness offering and let me know what you find.

“Be well, write well.”

Joy E. Held

Leave a comment »

Monday Meditation: National Library Week 2012

National Library Week, you belong at your library, April 8-14, 2012

“You belong at your library” is an appropriate slogan for this year’s National Library Week celebration. Honestly, go to the library and once you get past the humility of the massive collection of knowledge and ideas all in the same place, look around at everything available to everybody from the casual reader catching up on the daily news to the college professor checking on resources for a class he’s teaching next semester. The point is that EVERYBODY belongs at the library. Everybody, that is, who respects the principle of freedom to access information. Lack of respect for the contents, the people, the equipment, the facilities, or the ideas will get you rightfully tossed out the front door by the gatekeeper known as the Librarian. It’s a tough job monitoring knowledge, keeping it as safe as possible from abuse, staying on top of current information techniques, and exploding technology. But most librarians are fantastic people with a lot on their plates but always willing to help when asked a question. Granted, we’ve all run into the crusty book warden who is a bit ragged around the edges, but the librarian is a jewel and should be treated like the most precious brooch in the collection. After all, she opens the doors everyday and believes in the same thing writers do: knowledge and ideas are only valuable when they are shared.

 

I have soooo many great librarian stories to share that one week isn’t enough. So here is a brevity list of all the ways libraries and librarians have been a great help to my careers as teacher and writer.

 

#A librarian near my hometown helped me access a primary source that inspired my first romance novel. If it weren’t for this particular special collections and this wonderful woman who let me read “The Message to Garcia” by Elbert Hubbard (1899), my novel wouldn’t have the historical accuracies it does.

 

#When my children were young and learning to love reading and writing, a wonderful junior librarian named Brenda made a point to find out what interested them and ordered books year after year that kept them coming back until they moved away for college.

 

#My favorite aunt is a school librarian.

 

#Doug at the college library where I teach never fails to amaze me at how quickly and efficiently he responds to my requests for materials no matter where on Earth they’re located.

 

I’ll save more library/librarian kudos for the rest of the week. What’s your library story?

 

Happy National Library Week 2012. Hug a library every day.

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.)

 

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.

Be well, write well.

Joy E. Held

1 Comment »

Monday Meditation: Monkey Mind Meets Medication (Naturally)

The yogi meditates to seek stillness. The Buddist meditates to achieve oneness, non-duality. Modern medicine recommends meditation to quiet racing thoughts and slow down our frantic existence. The rest of us meditate because it feels so good just to be motionless for a few minutes out of every day. Along the way we all catch glimpses of peace or the giddiness of noticing the tension literally draining out of our shoulders or hands like rainwater down a spout. Or having fifteen minutes without thinking about this, that, him, her, time, dinner, laundry, deadlines, appointments, pets, kids, work, and dirty floors. The “ahhhh” of a few moments without the chatter and screeching of monkey mind is all it takes to revive us enough to finish the must-do-today list. Then we take a bath, reach for a few hours of dreams, get up, and do it all again. Somewhere along the route, the moments spent deeply focused (that’s all meditation actually is, deep focus while being conscious,) begin to taint our everyday existence. In small ways, meditation practice filters into our daily routines, and we find that we are less prone to flaming out when something doesn’t go our way. At least, if we do flame out, it is not as hot as it used to be and doesn’t last as long. The flame instead sheds light on the situation, and we stop and think differently about it all.

It’s the same for everybody whether they admit it or not. Meditation is a challenge but a worthwhile one. I’ve recently finished reading The Accidental Buddhist by Dinty W. Moore, an English professor at Ohio University (Go, Bobcats! you were basketball awesome last Friday night!) in Athens, Ohio. Moore travelled the country for a year in search of instructions on becoming a Buddhist or at least learning how to meditate really well. He discovered much about himself and his relationship with spirituality, but he bluntly faces what we all face every time we put our rumps on the zafu: monkey mind is in control. Moore says it succinctly:

The problem is clearly inside. My mind is a monkey, and the monkey needs Ritalin. (The Accidental Buddhist, page 36.)

Everybody encounters the same yakety-yak of thoughts and distractions. That’s part of the practice. Learning to deal with ourselves in a kinder, calmer way spills over into our lives and that’s one of the ways meditation becomes a tool to help us deal with stress. We are harsh with other people because that is how we treat ourselves. We chastise and punish ourselves pretty regularly and it’s become a habit for lots of people. We treat others the way we treat ourselves. NOT beating yourself up when monkey mind goes berserk and draws you away from the calm and reassuring sound of your own breath is the first step to stopping this attitude in your dealings with other people. An easy way to hush the chatter is to out talk monkey mind with kind and reassuring positive affirmations. “I am kind. I am smart. I am calm. I am important,” are just a few of the phrases that will shut monkey mind down in a heartbeat. Repeat them over and over in tempo with your natural breath day after day. A positive mantra repeated over and over is like a sort of Ritalin to calm monkey mind down for a few minutes. And like Moore discovers after a year of grasping for an understanding of a meaningful and spiritual existence, you’ll realize what he did.

If there is a God, I should live my life according to principles of kindness, compassion, and awareness, and if there is no God, well then I should live my life according to principles of kindness, compassion, and awareness anyway.

You can begin by trying to show yourself kindness, compassion, and awareness the next time you and monkey mind meet on the cushion. And I highly recommend Moore’s book The Accidental Buddhist.

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.)

 

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.

Be well, write well.

~Joy E. Held

 

 

1 Comment »

%d bloggers like this: