Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Meditation in Motion

At Saturday's workshop, we spent a little time on the use of simple physical jobs as a form of meditation to improve our writing. As in: do a little writing, do a little laundry or sweeping or sorting, then write some more. Once we've cranked up the writing, then the rumination continues, in a more relaxed and less conscious and more wide-reaching way, while we're doing the housekeeping task.

To demonstrate, I brought along several pounds of bright plastic beads of dozens of different colors and shapes. I ladled out a couple of good handfuls to each participant and asked them to sort for a while and then go back to their writing. It's amazing how a "mindless" meditative interlude stirs the imagination and problem-solving abilities of someone who has already fed in the basic facts.

I used to do a fair amount of advertising copywriting. For a while, I felt that I was so-so just-adequate at it. Then I started meditating, and I got to be pretty good.

What I'd do is read the material on the product or service, then meditate for half an hour with a mental focus that didn't allow me to cogitate on the ad job. Often a headline or two for an ad would pop into my head just as I ended my meditation. And even if it didn't, I came back to the work more relaxed.

One of the writers at the workshop said that she keeps a huge jigsaw puzzle going in the room where she works. Now and then she'll loosen up her mind again with a puzzle break, which I think is a wonderful and pleasant strategy.

In other news, here's a good quote, passed on from Mamie of Can I Do It?:

Most obstacles melt away when we make up our minds to walk boldly through them.
- Orison Swett Marden

And welcome to Alexandre Ferrari.

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mamie said...

To comment on my experience with the beads: I sorted out the colors I liked best, then picked out the "jewels" - those that were unusual - and finally abandoned the colors I didn't feel drawn to. I compare this to my writing, where I take a few ideas, pick out the ones that appeal to me, then the "jewels" out of those. This was a wonderful exercise, and I loved the idea for a story that I had after sorting.

kenju said...

I use crossword puzzles in the same way. My cats won't let me do jigsaws!!

Peggy Payne said...

I love that story idea too, Mamie. And the opening that you write.

Kenju, I'm also a cruciverbalist, though I never thought of doing it as a writing aid. May try that. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

meditation/deep prayer/hypnotic trance seems a fine approach to any challenging task--sorta clears the compute/mind , then focuses automatically on creative options.
Useful indeed. AIKI PS checkout brushmind.net fascinating treasure of a man -- old master- translator/calligrapher/ poet/ scholar/peace activist/aikidoka

demo & silent auction of what he brushpaints

comin' to CH Zen center friday feb 12, 7 PM 919 967 0861

Peggy said...

Wow, I love his work, Aiki. One of the quotes particularly describes my reaction: that every brush stroke seems immensely fascinating and rich.

“His smallest spots and fissures seem to have compelling interest. Even the smallest accident seems to have character, incident, form, weight, integrity.”

–Web Anderson, Honolulu Advertiser