Today, I’m welcoming my friend Donna Gephart, to talk about writing with Purpose, Peace, and Presence. This article was originally published in the Jan/Feb SCBWI bulletin and definitely bears repeating.
In my twenties, I worked full-time, part-time and freelanced in my “spare” time. Then came marriage. Kids. More work. More freelancing, etc. Basically, I got an A+ in being a Type A personality through my thirties and into my forties. I assumed the never-ending hamster wheel of life occurred outside myself, and I had to keep up.
It took 46 years, a restorative yoga class and listening to Eckhart Tolle’s The New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose to understand the hamster wheel was spinning furiously, but it was inside my own mind. Ceaseless chatter filled my mind from waking till sleep. (If I slept.) Eckhart Tolle calls that voice “ego” and says it’s not who we are. It’s outside of our true essence.
Some left brain chatter is necessary, of course. It’s the left brain that helps us make deadlines and arrive on time for meetings. But that same noisy left brain tells us we’ll never be as good as J.K. Rowling so why bother trying, and dust bunnies are spawning under our furniture because we’ve neglected cleaning to finish writing that last chapter and, um, let’s check our Amazon ranking one more time. Too much left brain chatter all day, every day leaves us exhausted. It drains energy we could use to create art and literature.
I have three words for my loquacious left brain: SHUT UP ALREADY!
Jill Bolte Taylor, in her book My Stroke of Insight: A Brain Scientist’s Personal Journey, wrote about the morning a stroke affected her brain’s left hemisphere. She was in a brilliant state of bliss with her left brain nearly incapacitated. It took her hours to activate her left brain enough to call for help. She survived and wrote about the nirvana of accessing the right side of our brains.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if, once in a while, we could access right brain bliss and creativity while quieting left brain chatter? If we could approach our work with focused purpose, peace and presence?
WHAT IS YOUR INTENTION/PURPOSE?
My yoga teacher often asks during class, “What is your intention? In this class? For your life? For our planet?
What is your intention? What are you uniquely qualified to do? To what effort will you give unbridled enthusiasm?
Thinking deeply about your intention/purpose will guide you away from actions that don’t support your purpose (i.e., scrubbing toilets) and toward actions that do support it (i.e., penning a novel that will illuminate the world for your reader).
SITTING IN STILLNESS
I recently discovered that sitting in stillness for a few minutes leaves me alert and aware, peace-filled and quietly energized. Want to try?
Sit quietly. Palms up. Eyes closed. Focus on your breath. Feel it fill your body and release. If a thought flies into your mind, be aware that it doesn’t need to be acted upon and let it fly out again. Back to the breath.
Being aware of your breath makes you unaware of your thoughts and draws you to the present moment. According to Eckhart Tolle, it’s really all we have. In the present moment, we’re not thinking of the speech we’ll give next month nor the mistake found in a book we’d written. We’re not recalling the sting of a recent rejection nor the deadline we might miss because of a family emergency. In the present moment, all memory and future thinking falls away. In this space, we can practice our writing and illustrating with clarity, purpose and focus.
Yoko Ono once gave John Lennon a card that read simply: “Breathe.”
So, every once in a while, hop off the hamster wheel in your mind.
Consider your intention/purpose. Sit in stillness. Breathe.
Then create with great purpose, peace and presence.
Donna Gephart writes award-winning, funny fiction for tweens from her home in South Florida. Her new middle grade novel, Olivia Bean, Trivia Queen (Delacorte Press), is about a girl who will do anything to get on the TV quiz show Jeopardy! Visit Donna at http://www.donnagephart.com.
Angela is a writing coach, international speaker, and bestselling author who loves to travel, teach, empower writers, and pay-it-forward. She also is a founder of One Stop For Writers, a portal to powerful, innovative tools to help writers elevate their storytelling.