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After five years of drought in California finally ended with more than 90 inches of rain in my corner of the state, springtime felt especially abundant this year. The lush growth prompted me to think a good deal about the creative process along similar lines. The following meditation and writing exercise – meant to be done together – are particularly powerful and resonant for me. I suggest doing the meditation first as a lead-in to the writing prompt.
Find a comfortable and quiet place to sit. Take off your shoes and rest your feet flat on the floor. Sit upright so that you're comfortable but not so comfortable as to fall asleep. Close your eyes gently and rest your hands easily in your lap.
Begin by taking a single deep breath inward and exhale slowly.
Take another deep breath and exhale slowly.
Take a third and exhale.
Keep your eyes closed, continue to breathe regularly, and simply tune into the rhythm of your breathing. Feel your body relaxing. If you feel obvious points of tension, breathe into those points and let them relax. Let your shoulders drop, loosen any tightness in your neck, and just relax, allowing your breath to be calm and natural. Breathe in and breathe out. You might fix your attention on where it is you feel the breath moving in your body—is it in the rise and fall of your chest or belly? Maybe in the wisps of air at your nostrils?
Say quietly to yourself, I am the beauty and abundance of spring eternal. Take a soft breath in and repeat, I am the beauty and abundance of spring eternal.
Take a second wakeful breath in and repeat, I am the beauty and abundance of spring eternal. Simply breathe regularly, finding the natural rhythm of your breath, allowing these words to sink into your being, feeling the deep sense of your true beauty and abundance.
Let go of the words and continue to simply breathe in and breathe out. Know in this moment that there is nothing to do, no knowledge to gather or recall, no proper way to breathe, nothing to get right or control. Just sit and notice the experience of your breathing body, letting all tension and expectations go. There is no right and no wrong, nothing to accomplish or learn, nothing to figure out or fix. Just allow everything to be as it is.
Breathe in and breathe out. Allow your mind to rest in an open state. Let thoughts be thoughts, sensations be sensations. Just rest here—breathing through all that arises in heart and mind with full awareness. Allow yourself to feel bathed in silence, attuned to the present moment with an open heart filled with love and compassion for whatever arises.
After a few minutes, you might get caught on a train of thought carrying you into planning or remembering mode. When you notice this, simply return to your experience of your breathing body. Breathe in and breathe out.
Continue to sit in silence following your breath for as little as 10 or as many as 60 minutes. As you come to the end of your meditation session (of whatever length suits you), return to an awareness of your breathing body and recite this phrase three more times, I am the beauty and abundance of spring eternal, before ringing a bell to close the meditation.
The best way I have found to break through writing blocks and keep my pen consistently moving is through the practice of freewriting. This is simple stream-of-consciousness writing, where we set a timer for 5-25 minutes, launch from a word, phrase, or simple idea, and just GO! We write from margin to margin in whatever form occurs in the moment. We don't worry about punctuation, grammar, or spelling. We keep the pen moving across the page—not stopping to ponder or think of the next brilliant idea.
The idea here is that your first thought is your best thought.
Don't think, write! Write straight from your direct experience of the moment.
When we know that we don't have to share or show this to anyone, we are more able to allow our minds to be open and free to whatever arises, vowing not to judge or evaluate. We write for writing's sake—not to accomplish anything. Just like we sit and meditate to simply let go and be, we write to see what's cookin' in our heart and mind in this moment, to write it down and let it go. Are you ready?
Set your timer for eight minutes. On your mark, get set, and let this phrase get you going: "It knocked the blossoms clean off the plum tree." GO!
Have fun and enjoy! May writing be your path to awakening!