A Guided Standing Meditation to Activate Your Creative Imagination

May 1, 2018

 

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Springtime in the heart of May is a time of renewal and discovery, a time of reminding, reconnecting, and remembering our true imaginative potential. Mother may I? Yes, you May. Express your full imaginative self, just as the flowers, fourth graders, and fully feathered birds do.

You are your imagination. It’s not something outside of you that you read in the pages of some book, or something you overhear in the next booth over at Bubba’s Drive-In, or even the memory of your adventures trekking across Nepal (although these are all terrific things to write about). It’s found within you — your imaginative heart and soul, looking like a nebula of stars throbbing in your bloodstream a thousand times a second, at this very moment. Here’s a way to practice conjuring up (imagining) and letting go: the standing “skeleton scan” meditation.

Skeleton Scan Meditation

  • Find a quiet place in your house with a soft and comfortable surface to stand on. Close your eyes and take a deep breath inward.
  • Ground yourself in this moment, in your body. After the first deep breath, let your breathing become natural.
  • Now lightly bring a thread of your awareness to your feet and breathe into your feet. Feel the stability and grounding of your breath at your feet. Now, with your mind’s eye, see the little toe bones of your feet, then follow your imagining to the main parts of your feet and to where they meet your ankle bones.
  • Continue up your legs to view the bones joining to your knees then up to your hip bones.
  • See your hip bones where they connect to your sacrum and your spine. Now visualize your vertebrae climbing and then branching out into your rib cage. See the ribs of your body wrapping around you and joining at your sternum, protecting your heart.
  • Notice now the bones of your shoulders holding your arms, and see those bones of your upper arms, into your elbows, and down to your hands and finger bones.
  • Now bring your visualization back up your arms, past your elbows, back up to your shoulders, and see now your neck and where your spine connects to your skull.
  • See your skull, the round smoothness of the bone with hollow sockets for your eyes and nose, and see the bones of your jaw and teeth.
  • Breathe into this visualized experience of your skeleton. Breathe in and feel your body
    swaying gently, knowing right now that this skeleton is your stability and ground—these mineral bones are your conduit to earth and sky.
  • Take a deep breath inward, exhale, and open your eyes.

 

ALBERT FLYNN DESILVER is an internationally published poet, memoirist, novelist, speaker, and workshop leader. He has published several books of poetry, his memoir Beamish Boy (Owl Press, 2012), and his new book Writing as a Path to Awakening (Sounds True, 2017). He teaches at the Omega Institute, Esalen, Spirit Rock, and writing conferences nationally. He lives in Northern California. For more, visit albertflynndesilver.com.

Buy your copy of Writing as a Path to Awakening: A Year to Becoming an Excellent Writer and Living an Awakened Life at Sounds True or your favorite bookseller. 

Albert Flynn DeSilver

Also By Author

4 Ways to Cultivate Creativity This Holiday Season

4 ways to cultivate creativity this holiday season

In the craziness of the holiday season, it can be challenging to cultivate personal creativity—but when we think of creativity in terms of a gift, our hearts open to great and beautiful possibilities. Here are four ways you can cultivate creativity this holiday season. 

Write a series of haiku you can print on paper, ceramics, cloth or food

Spend some time reading and reminding yourself of the art of haiku. Practice writing a few of your own on paper first. Make it a ritual; bring presence and mindfulness and reflect on the immediacy of your experience here and now—and maybe touch of some sentiments around the holidays.

Transfer your haiku to a holiday ornament you can hang from a tree or. . .

Have fun with this practice! Invite your friends and family members to engage in this practice and have fun exploring different ways you can share your haiku on an ornament.

Write a haiku you can eat

Haiku holiday cookies anyone? Use icing as your ink. Explore different ways you might “write” your haiku using food.

Haiku writing with objects and documented in photographs

You can create your haiku with sticks, string, stones, sand, any material you want, and then document your poem by photographing it. Your last step is to create it so that you can give it away as a gift!

Happy holidays! 

Albert Flynn DeSilver is an internationally published poet, memoirist, novelist, speaker, and workshop leader. He served as Marin County’s first Poet Laureate from 2008–2010, and his work has appeared in more than 100 literary journals worldwide, including ZYZZYVA, New American Writing, and Exquisite Corpse. Albert is the author of Writing as a Path to AwakeningBeamish Boy: A Memoir, Letters to Early Street, and Walking Tooth & Cloud. He has taught workshops at The Esalen Institute, The Omega Institute, Spirit Rock Meditation Center, and literary conferences nationally. visit albertflynndesilver.com.

A Meditation + Writing Exercise to Conquer Your Fear

A meditation + writing exercise to conquer your fear, banner

To prepare for the dog days of summer, we move from amusement to audacity. Being a dog owner and lover, I particularly enjoy the expression “dog days.” I always picture a pile of lazy dogs panting away in the shade of a chestnut tree, waiting out the heat of the day to go for an evening walk. Venturing into the heat of creative and spiritual practice takes courage; it is an audacious undertaking.

This July, I invite you to take on a “BHAG”—a Big, Hairy, Audacious Goal. Write forth your truth and wake up to expanded awareness in the process. Whether that means starting a journal or writing a poem, novel, memoir, or letter to your grandmother, audacity will drive you forward. I want you to commit here and now to do your best in any given moment. Move forward with your best intentions of creativity and spiritual awakening at heart. This combined meditation and writing practice will help you get there.

A Meditation on Audacity

Let’s begin with where we are—in a grounded and courageous place, fully embodied. Find your comfortable place to sit. Rest your hands easily in your lap and your feet flat on the ground or cushion. Gently close your eyes. Take a few breaths inward and release. Find that natural rhythm of your breathing, connecting with your breathing body. Tune into your immediate sensory experience, just noticing what your experience is right in this moment. Let your breath be your anchor and ground.

See if you can bring to mind a particularly scary or vulnerable situation. Think of one in which you recently felt exposed, sensitive, even fearful; not one in which you were in a dangerous situation, but a memory of you putting yourself out there in some way—confronting someone, speaking to a group, asking someone new out on a date. As memories of the situation come to you, breathe deeply into your belly and know that you are safe now, breathing here in this moment in this body. If you need to, you can open your eyes, but try to remain grounded in your breathing body. Notice the rush of sensations and allow whatever arises to arise with love, patience, and compassion. Be gentle with yourself and remember that you are safe. See if you can stay with the feelings and simply explore how your fear or discomfort exists as a bodily sensation.

Notice where in your body you feel them. Breathe nurturing air into those places. Allow yourself to become familiar with the sensations of fear and vulnerability without the need to disconnect, distract, or avoid altogether. Be patient and kind with yourself as the emotions and feelings stream through. Gently note any physical changes: increased body heat, increased heart rate, tingling in your arms, increased sweating, and so on. Notice how the sensations linger, change, and dissipate. Become curious and open while kindly grounding yourself in the breath.

Put both hands on your heart, left on top of right, and take a deep breath. Say to yourself, “May I be well, may I be at peace, may I be bathed in the light of lovingkindness and compassion right now.” Take another deep breath, exhale, and release your hands. Bring them back together, palm to palm, at your heart and bow to yourself in gratitude for your courage and love. Open your eyes to complete the meditation.

You might try this meditation for five minutes at first and then extend it as you feel more audacious and courageous. The more you allow the feelings to arise and exist, the more familiar you will become with them. In turn, you will be better able to let them go and dissipate and see them for what they are—waves of energy and information arising and passing away.

Now for the writing . . . Write down three things you can do in the next month that scare you. They don’t have to be drastic acts such as speaking in front of 400 people. How about just sitting down to write that first scene of your novel? Typing up your first few poems? That can be scary enough. And these frightening endeavors don’t have to be related to writing. Maybe it’s a little terrifying to sit in meditation with your eyes closed for more than five minutes. Check in with yourself and see what’s a little scary for you—where can you push yourself a little further? Book a trip overseas, sign up for a rock-climbing adventure, agree to read at your local open mic. Keep in mind that you don’t have to actually do these things right now. Simply start by writing them down and sitting in their presence for a bit. Then you can take action to feel your fear and do it anyway!

This excerpt has been shortened and adapted from Writing as a Path to Awakening: A Year to Becoming an Excellent Writer and Living an Awakened Life.

A Meditation + Writing Exercise to Conquer Your Fear, Albert Flynn DeSilver

 

 

ALBERT FLYNN DESILVER is an internationally published poet, memoirist, novelist, speaker, and workshop leader. He has published several books of poetry, Beamish Boy, and his newest book, Writing as a Path to Awakening. He teaches at the Omega Institute, Esalen, Spirit Rock, and writing conferences nationally. He lives in Northern California. For more, visit albertflynndesilver.com.

 

 

 

A Meditation + Writing Exercise to Conquer Your Fear, Writing as a Path to Awakening, Albert Flynn DeSilver

 

 

Buy your copy of Writing as a Path to Awakening: A Year to Becoming an Excellent Writer and Living an Awakened Life at your favorite bookseller!

Sounds True | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound

 

 

 

 

A Meditation + Writing Exercise to Conquer Your Fear, pinterest

A Guided Standing Meditation to Activate Your Creative...

 

Albert Flynn Desilver - A Guided Standing Meditation to Activate Your Creative Imagination Blog Banner

Springtime in the heart of May is a time of renewal and discovery, a time of reminding, reconnecting, and remembering our true imaginative potential. Mother may I? Yes, you May. Express your full imaginative self, just as the flowers, fourth graders, and fully feathered birds do.

You are your imagination. It’s not something outside of you that you read in the pages of some book, or something you overhear in the next booth over at Bubba’s Drive-In, or even the memory of your adventures trekking across Nepal (although these are all terrific things to write about). It’s found within you — your imaginative heart and soul, looking like a nebula of stars throbbing in your bloodstream a thousand times a second, at this very moment. Here’s a way to practice conjuring up (imagining) and letting go: the standing “skeleton scan” meditation.

Skeleton Scan Meditation

  • Find a quiet place in your house with a soft and comfortable surface to stand on. Close your eyes and take a deep breath inward.
  • Ground yourself in this moment, in your body. After the first deep breath, let your breathing become natural.
  • Now lightly bring a thread of your awareness to your feet and breathe into your feet. Feel the stability and grounding of your breath at your feet. Now, with your mind’s eye, see the little toe bones of your feet, then follow your imagining to the main parts of your feet and to where they meet your ankle bones.
  • Continue up your legs to view the bones joining to your knees then up to your hip bones.
  • See your hip bones where they connect to your sacrum and your spine. Now visualize your vertebrae climbing and then branching out into your rib cage. See the ribs of your body wrapping around you and joining at your sternum, protecting your heart.
  • Notice now the bones of your shoulders holding your arms, and see those bones of your upper arms, into your elbows, and down to your hands and finger bones.
  • Now bring your visualization back up your arms, past your elbows, back up to your shoulders, and see now your neck and where your spine connects to your skull.
  • See your skull, the round smoothness of the bone with hollow sockets for your eyes and nose, and see the bones of your jaw and teeth.
  • Breathe into this visualized experience of your skeleton. Breathe in and feel your body
    swaying gently, knowing right now that this skeleton is your stability and ground—these mineral bones are your conduit to earth and sky.
  • Take a deep breath inward, exhale, and open your eyes.

 

ALBERT FLYNN DESILVER is an internationally published poet, memoirist, novelist, speaker, and workshop leader. He has published several books of poetry, his memoir Beamish Boy (Owl Press, 2012), and his new book Writing as a Path to Awakening (Sounds True, 2017). He teaches at the Omega Institute, Esalen, Spirit Rock, and writing conferences nationally. He lives in Northern California. For more, visit albertflynndesilver.com.

Buy your copy of Writing as a Path to Awakening: A Year to Becoming an Excellent Writer and Living an Awakened Life at Sounds True or your favorite bookseller. 

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Perry Garfinkel: Experimenting with Becoming Gandhi

In a confessional reflection on writing his new book, Becoming Gandhi, acclaimed journalist and bestselling author Perry Garfinkel says, “It was so difficult I almost gave up twice. I thought, ‘I can’t write this book. It’s too big a subject. Who am I to try to become Gandhi?’” Garfinkel persevered, and in this podcast Tami Simon speaks with him about what he discovered along the journey—and how practicing (not perfecting) six universal principles of the Mahatma can transform each one of us. 

Tune in to this highly aspirational yet very down-to-earth conversation on the poignance of the human condition and the elixir of laughter; the Tao of Gandhi; satyagraha, an insistence on and holding firm to the truth; considering “how to Gandhi” a situation you’re faced with; the notion of “good enough”; nonviolence in thought, word, and deed; the connection between words and feelings, and the step-by-step process of personal transformation; simplicity; faith as the driver of our moral compass; celibacy and making love; Gandhi’s life as his message—and making peace with his imperfections; and more.

What does it take to “Be the change you want to see ...

Excerpted from Becoming Gandhi: My Experiment Living the Mahatma’s 6 Moral Truths in Immoral Times by Perry Garfinkel.

Let the Journey Begin

By reading this preface, you have just joined what will hopefully be the experiment of a lifetime that will change both of our lives.

Let me set the ground rules, parameters, frameworks, timelines, caveats, excuses, permissions, and other details that will help you navigate your way—if not to be Gandhi, then to become a person who leads a more ethical, principled, spiritually and morally based, truth-full life.

As you will read in chapter 1, I first thought to undertake this effort more than a decade ago. It took me another twelve years to build up the confidence, belief in my commitment, and, frankly, the funding to actually begin this arduous journey, both inner and outer, including travel to three countries plus my own US. Little did I know how much it would change me, how many miles I would travel, how many inspirational people I would meet, and how many disappointments I would encounter, both in the world and in myself.

I began to take it seriously in the summer of 2019. That was when I started finding and  contacting knowledgeable sources in each country. As a dogged reporter who prides himself in finding the email and phone number for anyone anywhere in the world, that deep dive, which necessarily required a lot of reading and googling, was a relatively easy and very enjoyable and informative exercise. You may also want to research anything additional to what I write here and experiment with your own ways to follow the six principles. I can’t speak for Gandhi, but you have my wholehearted permission and encouragement to think outside the box and off this page.

The Big Goal here was to see if, in the face of a sociocultural climate that appears bereft of moral integrity, one could follow Gandhi’s moral compass, on the one hand, and on the other, to travel to countries where he spent considerable time to see how much had changed in the years since he left them. In other words, did he leave an enduring footprint that others followed or were Gandhi’s tracks swept away and forgotten by time and human nature? In these times of questionable ethical values, of increased violence and rampant lying, I was prepared to admit such evidence might be hard to find. In fact, one too-current example of the failure of the nonviolent movement, which was one of Gandhi’s primary pillars, is occurring as I’m writing this: CNN is reporting that thirty-nine mass shootings have taken place in the United States in the first three weeks of 2023 alone, killing more than sixty people, per the Gun Violence Archives.

I knew the hard part of this goal would be living these principles day in and day out on a personal level. There would be a lot of inner work, mental adjustments, a veritable paradigmatic shift of attitude. I would have to change my mind in the most fundamental ways. Change my habits, modes of thinking, daily actions.

The ground rules were simple: try to rigorously follow the six principles on a daily basis, keeping them in mind through the day, whether hanging out with friends and family, alone in my apartment, or out there in the world. But also to give myself some slack. If I “fell off the wagon,” I would forgive myself quickly and get right back on it. The latter would happen with frequency, as you will read. But I realized very soon that once engaged in this experiment, even when I fell off, there would be no turning back. Once the veil is lifted, it’s hard not to see the world for what it is, and see yourself for who you are, who you are not, and who you aspire to be.

People started wondering how long this experiment would last and asking me when or if I would drop vegetarianism and return to eating meat as soon as it ended. I had planned to dedicate one full year to this project. It expanded to some eighteen months of strict adherence 

to all of the principles, and even some that Gandhi didn’t consider in the course of things. I admit I slacked after that but, as I said, once you know which way the compass is pointing, you can’t completely turn back; you always return to your true north. You find the balance that suits you best, or at least better than before you started.

I frame this journey and this book around the six principles. Some sources list up to eleven Gandhi principles. I chose only six; already you can call me lazy.

Truth. In practice, truth is simply telling the truth, but Gandhi meant it to mean more. He said, “God is Truth,” later changing it to “Truth is God.” He coined the term satyagraha—loosely translated as “insistence on and holding firm to truth”—as a form of nonviolent resistance. I take this on, first focusing on practicing truth in thoughts, words, and actions, with particular attention to lies I tell myself. I look at how society views truth now.

Nonviolence. Although Gandhi was not the originator of nonviolence, he was the first to apply it as a strategy to move the dial in the direction of justice, as a peaceful weapon to protest social wrongdoings. His motto: “An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.” Taking it from the political to the personal, I look at how we all act out psychological violence—in passive-aggressive behaviors, in road rage, in clenched jaws, in couched (and not-so-couched) language—that sabotages our best interests. I myself am guilty: I was once a featured guest on The Phil Donahue Show, speaking about my own passive-aggressive behavior in my previous marriage.

Vegetarianism. Vegetarianism is deeply ingrained in Hindu and Jain traditions, the setting in which Gandhi was raised. In his London years as a law student, he embraced it more seriously to not only satisfy the requirements of the body and his religious beliefs but also to save money by not buying expensive meats. His book The Moral Basis of Vegetarianism, along with articles he wrote for the London Vegetarian Society’s publication, became my personal diet book. I was a meat-and-potatoes kind of kid, just like my father. I became a macrobiotic many years ago, had defaulted to meat in recent years, but an Ayurvedic diet I went on last fall convinced me I need to clean up my eating habits. Don’t we all?

Simplicity. Giving up unnecessary spending is the simple maxim Gandhi had in mind, and because this concept flies in the face of conspicuous consumers on spending sprees in shopping malls, it also has ramifications for our gluttonous nature, which thinks that more of anything automatically provides more satisfaction. But Gandhi also had a political motive in his so-called Swadeshi movement: by making their own clothes using a spinning wheel (charkha), Indians would deal an economic blow to the British establishment in India. These days consumers boycott various brands and stores to protest their company policy, a Gandhian spin. The contemporary “voluntary simplicity movement” draws directly from this Gandhian principle. I will closely examine my spending patterns and make budget slashes. Gandhi called it “reducing himself to zero.”

Faith. Gandhi meant belief in a higher power, no matter what religion. He wrote, “Mine is a broad faith which does not oppose Christians . . . not even the most fanatical Mussalman. I refuse to abuse a man for his fanatical deeds, because I try to see them from his point of view.” It’s the ability to see things from the point of view of someone from another faith that tests the faith of mankind. How are we doing with that? Not so good. The majority of wars in the world are religious wars. My challenge will be to find some balance between my practice of Buddhism, the religion of no God, and Judaism, the religion that invented the One God. I will test the boundaries of my acceptance of faiths I don’t believe in.

Celibacy. Called brahmacharya in Hindi, sexual abstinence was a spiritual path to achieving purity, according to Gandhi, who took the vow of chastity at the age of thirty-eight. Some people question whether Gandhi himself actually adhered to this, with stories and allegations he slept next to teenage girls to test his restraint. Celibacy is not for everyone. Is it for me? I will endeavor to find out, keeping copious notes on my fallings in and out. With my luck, the woman of my dreams will walk into my life and fall in love with me. What will I do . . . or, more precisely, not do?

I never intended this book to be categorized in the how-to or self help genre. I think or hope you can help yourself without my telling you how. Nonetheless, as I made my way around the world, around my mind, and finally around this book, I realized it would be helpful to at least sum up each chapter with what I learned, some tips for your (and my own) benefit. I call these end-of-chapter sections “How to Gandhi.”

With these guidelines and to-dos and with no further ado, here we go. Next stop: becoming the change.

Perry Garfinkel is a veteran journalist, editor, frequent speaker, and author of the bestselling Buddha or Bust. He has contributed to many sections of the New York Times since 1986 and has written for National Geographic magazine, AARP The Magazine, the Huffington Post, the LA Times, and others. He has appeared on CNN and CBS This Morning. He is a frequent guest on WCBS-NY radio’s Health & Well-Being Report.

Tsultrim Allione: Turning Towards What’s Difficu...

What if instead of trying to avoid or attack the people or situations in life that we don’t like, we chose to “invite them all to dinner”? In Tibetan Buddhism, this counterintuitive approach is known as “feeding our demons.” In this podcast, Tami Simon speaks with Lama Tsultrim Allione about making the choice to turn toward what we usually avoid—and the healing and integration this choice can lead to. 

Give a listen to this inspiring conversation on the need to reclaim the sacred feminine at this time in history; the dakini principle in Tibetan Buddhism; balancing the energies of the masculine and feminine; the courage to stand up to authority; cultivating self-trust; the Great Mother of pure potential; the union of wisdom and skillful means; becoming an emanation of an ever-evolving mind stream; the legendary yogini, Machig Labdrön, and learning to move toward what we usually avoid; the practice of “feeding your demons”; creating wholeness by integrating the shadow; working with grief and loss; and more.

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