LIFE TRANSFORMED by Kathleen Shoop
All my life, exercise has provided me the opportunity to do more than raise my heart rate. For example, repetitive physical acts like swimming and walking have allowed my mind to unwind, solve problems and reduce stress. As I developed my writing career I found that through exercise I was able to provide the perfect runway for my writing to take off and unwrap plot and character problems. In those early days, I found I could belt out thousands of words in just a few hours after exercising. The cycle of exercise and writing fed itself, creating excitement for me as well as concrete progress in the quality writing.
As critique became part of my writing, exercise became even more important as the critique partners raised problems in my stories that I’d never noticed or considered! How could I possibly settle these issues? Well, all I had to do was to get up and walk the next morning and the solutions were revealed to me even before I focused on them.
For years this process was perfect. But, as life altered its course and my children’s needs changed, I was required to spend all my energy on activities related to their needs. The days, instead of winding down at five around dinner stretched out to the point that many times we walked in the door at eight-thirty. While the kids were busy with their sports and artistic endeavors, my time was spent chatting with fellow parents, racing around buying school supplies, expending my energy in ways that weren’t captured on paper or even in my mind. My life as a prolific writer began to splinter and wither.
I assessed how and when I was most productive. I marveled at the way my walks and swims had been transformed. They no longer led to the useful creative experience, but had morphed into logistical, creativity-sapping thinking about squeezing in writing around grocery shopping. In addition, having published my first book I was now responsible for every single area of book selling from conceptual seed to marketing expert (at least trying to be!). The once abundant energy and focus was leeching from my creative core and rushing as a raging river into an infinite ocean of lost writing time.
It was around this time my friend, Madhu B. Wangu, the facilitator of the Mindful Writers Group, suggested I attend her workshops. The idea of meditating had always seemed magical, relaxing, wonderful, and productive to me, but the meeting place was far away. If I went I would lose hours in travel time. But as I was unable to dam the raging river of lost creativity, it became clear I would only gain from writing with Madhu’s Mindful Writers Group. I was already losing far more than the travel time it would take for me to show up at the Wednesday meetings. Finally, I committed to the Group.
Working with Madhu has turned my creative faucet back on, allowing me to experience the gushing flow of writing that I was blessed with but found “accidentally” through exercises. Now, with Madhu’s help on Wednesdays, and with her CD when I’m not with her, once again I find my writing focused and plentiful. With the Writing Meditation practice I’ve found I can more easily than ever stimulate my dormant creative flow that is always waiting to be released. Simply thinking about Writing Meditation puts me half way there, without even doing anything-that’s powerful. It’s transformative.
Although swimming and walking are still great ways to reach my creative core, Writing Meditation Method integrates my body, mind and heart. As I sit still in silence and solitude my body, mind, and heart become one. I write from my whole self with deepened senses, feelings and insights. Writing Meditation Method is the tool to access the source of my creativity whenever I need to.
I realize now that in walking and swimming I had accidentally found a form of mindful writing practice -something I still benefit from today. But through the conscious practice of Writing Meditation I have become aware of how it benefits and enriches my work and how I can make use of it anywhere, anytime. The practice has injected my writing with the soul it was missing. When practiced daily, the Method is a gift that keeps on giving. Yes, it helps me find my creative flow amidst all of life’s chaos that will never go away, I am now able to carve out a state of mind that nurtures my writing.