A Meditation + Writing Exercise to Conquer Your Fear

July 23, 2018

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

 

 

 

 

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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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Tools for Cultivating Supportive Friendships & Relationships:

CHRISTOPHE ANDRÉ:

For this toolbox I’d like to put forward a little bit of theory about how we are supported by relationships — that is, to offer an overall look at what we receive from our relationships with others.

The five benefits of relationships. Studies show that social support can be broken down into several families of benefits:

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  3. Emotional support: Others are the source of positive emotions; they give us affection, love, friendship, trust, admiration.
  4. The support of esteem. Others can remind us of our value and good qualities, tell us what they like about us, and sustain our self-esteem at moments of uncertainty.
  5. The inspiration of their example: This is more difficult to evaluate scientifically, but it’s quite real, as we have indicated.

The four varieties of relationships. Another important point is that it is helpful to cultivate varied social relationships, just as it is important to have a varied diet. There are four families of relationships, distributed in four concentric circles:

  1. Our intimates: the people we live with, whom we touch and embrace practically every day. This means mostly our family and best friends.
  2. Our close relations: our friends and colleagues, people with whom we regularly have close and regular exchanges.
  3. Our acquaintances: the whole network of people with whom we have a connection, even occasional, and who we keep track of and who keep track of us.
  4. Unknowns: those who we might also have relationships with, depending on our character. This includes people we might speak to on the street, on public transport, in stores. They can also be sources of help or information for us, as we can for them.

Specialists in social relations remind us that it is important to draw sup- port from these four circles — not only from our intimate and close relations—and to sustain our connections with these four relational spheres by giving and receiving help, information, support, eye contact, advice, and smiles. Because the idea is not only to receive but also to give, by speaking to unknowns and maintaining warm relations with our acquaintances, neighbors, and shopkeepers, we do ourselves good. And we embellish the world, improve it, and make it more human!

 

MATTHIEU RICARD:

The importance of social connection. We should choose to live in an environment where people are warm, altruistic, and compassionate. If this isn’t the case in all areas of our living space, we should progressively try to establish these values or, if it’s possible, we should leave the toxic environment.

In this connection, I like to cite the case of a community on the Japanese island of Okinawa, which claims to have one of the world’s highest concentrations of people aged a hundred or over. It appears that the main factor in this exceptional longevity is not the climate or the food, but the power of this community, where people maintain particularly rich social relationships. From cradle to grave, they relate very closely with one another. The elderly people in particular get together several times a week to sing, dance, and have a good time. Almost every day they go to schools to greet the children (whether they have familial links with them or not) at the end of the school day. The elders take the children in their arms and give them treats.

Draw inspiration from the righteous, from people who, in our eyes, embody the values of impartiality, tolerance, compassion, love, and kindness. In these times of the migratory crisis, I think of all those who have taken great risks, and I remember those who protected Jewish people during the Nazi persecutions of World War II, particularly those who hid Jews in their homes. These people have since come to be called “The Righteous.” The only common point that emerges from their many accounts is a view of others based on recognition of their common human- ity. All human beings deserved to be treated with kindness. Where we saw a stranger, they saw a human being.

Meditate on altruistic love. Studies in psychology have shown that meditating on altruistic love increases people’s feelings of belonging to a community; it enhances the quality of social connections and compassionate attitudes toward unknown people, while at the same reduc- ing discrimination toward particular groups, like people of color, homeless people, and immigrants.

Draw inspiration from friends in the good and spiritual masters. I recommend that everyone see a historical documentary made in India by Arnaud Desjardins at the end of the 1960s, in which we are shown the most respected of the Tibetan masters who took refuge on the Indian slopes of the Himalayas following the Chinese invasion of their country. The film is called The Message of the Tibetans.

 

ALEXANDRE JOLLIEN:

The audacity to live. Existing, opening oneself to the other, is running a risk. It means dropping one’s armor, one’s protective coverings, and opening one’s eyes and daring to give oneself to the other and to the entire world. There’s no way you can invest in a relationship, so throw out your logic of profit and loss! What if we were to embark on our day without any idea of gain or of using our fellow human beings? What if we stayed attentive to all the women and men it is given to us to encoun- ter on that day, looking to find among them masters in being human? 

Identify our profound aspirations. Helping others can often amount to imposing a view of the world on them without really paying any attention to what they really want in their hearts. A man bought an elephant without giving any thought in advance to how he was going to feed it. At a loss, he was obliged to turn for help to those around him, and what he got from them was, “You never should have bought such a big animal!” What does it mean to help others? Does it mean committing completely to being there for them? Does it mean going all the way with them?

Authentic compassion. A will to power might enter into our move- ment toward the other—a thirst for recognition, a twisted attempt to redeem ourselves. Daring a true encounter means quitting the sphere of your neurosis and walking the path of freedom together. There’s no more “me,” no more “you,” but a coalescent “us,” a primordial solidarity.

Coming out of the bunker. As a result of having been burned in our relationship with another, the temptation is great to put on armor, to completely shut ourselves up in a bunker-like fortress, even to the point of suffocation. Don’t our passions, our griefs, our loves, and the fierce- ness of our desire remind us that we are essentially turned toward the other, in perpetual communication? Is there a way to live the thousand and one contacts of daily life without our ego appropriating them?

This is excerpted from the newest book from Matthieu Ricard, Christophe André, and Alexandre Jollien, Freedom For All Of Us: A Monk, A Philosopher, and a Psychiatrist on Finding Inner Freedom.

Copy of MatthieuRicard-AlexandreJollien-ChristopheAndré©PhilippeDanais2017

 

Matthieu Ricard is a Buddhist monk, a photographer, and a molecular geneticist who has served as an interpreter for the Dalai Lama. 

Christophe André is a psychiatrist and one of the primary French specialists in the psychology of emotions and feelings.

 Alexandre Jollien is a philosopher and a writer whose work has been attracting an ever-growing readership. Together, they are the authors of In Search of Wisdom and Freedom For All of Us.

picture of the book titles Freedom for All of Us

Learn More

Sounds True | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Bookshop | IndieBound

 

Meet a Coauthor of . . . Freedom for All of Us

The Author

Christophe André is a psychiatrist specializing in the psychology of emotions. His books include Imperfect, Free, and Happy, and Meditating, Day after Day. He lives in France. For more, visit christopheandre.com.

Freedom For All Of Us

The Book

With their acclaimed book In Search of Wisdom, three gifted friends—a monk, a philosopher, and a psychiatrist—shed light on our universal quest for meaning, purpose, and understanding. Now, in this new in-depth offering, they invite us to tend to the garden of our true nature: freedom.

Filled with unexpected insights and specific strategies, Freedom for All of Us presents an inspiring guide for breaking free of the unconscious walls that confine us.

 

Translated from the original responses in French.

Send us a photo of your sacred space or workspace.

Here is the view from my home office in Saint-Malo, Brittany, France. My writing space is situated on the top-most floor of the house, just underneath our roof, and each time I lift my head to look out the window, I see the beach, the ocean, and, further away, the ramparts of the old city. The ever-changing nature [of this place], the sky and the tides forever moving (and morphing), the memory of all the corsairs (pirates) of Saint-Malo’s past … all of these things are what inspire me and bring joy to my life.

What is something about you that doesn’t make it into your author bio? It could be something that impacts your work, or something totally random and entertaining!

[There’s] nothing necessarily odd or extraordinary, but perhaps a rather banal fact [is my] being a parent. For me, becoming a father is the event that has most changed me in my life (and has most encouraged me to better myself). It has truly enriched my life the most.

There are two key moments (or memories) that for me [define] being a parent. Firstly, those moments where we realize our children are watching and judging us; and this moment can be very moving and also uncomfortable as a parent, because you feel like your children have discovered all your limits or your faults. (How can we hide it? Impossible, they will see them! At least once, or from time to time.) The essential lesson is that we don’t try to constantly hide our true selves, and this encourages us to transform ourselves. The watchful eye and judgments of our children can feel like a challenge for parents, but a fruitful challenge [nonetheless].

The other key moment is when we realize that our children are more skilled in ways we are not (and sometimes in all ways)! It’s that moment when we discover that we, as parents, are learning from our children; their intelligence, generosity, and enthusiasm. It’s the moment that we allow ourselves, discreetly and with great humility, to let them be our teachers.

If you could invite any three transformational leaders or spiritual teachers (throughout time) to dinner, who would they be and why?

I imagine I would probably be too intimidated to actually have dinner or a conversation with the following three people! I would probably prefer to follow them, like a shadow or a small mouse, and to watch them live and work over several days. To observe their intimate, everyday routines, and listen to their discourse (which in a way is possible with all of their published works). It has always seemed to me that wisdom arises, above all, through example and embodiment.

I would love to follow the everyday life of Etty Hillesum, [the writer], who was a stranger to hatred. Even when she would have every reason to hate the Nazis, who had her executed [at Auschwitz], she still spoke of grace even in a world where only fear, violence, and injustice seemed to live.

I would love to follow alongside Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. during a day in his life. I admire him for his choice to fight for civil rights without the use of violence. I remember, vividly, crying when I visited his memorial in Atlanta.

And finally, I would love to shadow Henry David Thoreau when he was living in his cabin at Walden. I admire his decision to live a life filled with only the essentials: nature, spirituality, and few material possessions, which is in stark contrast to the mistakes and values that we hold in this modern day.

Freedom For All Of Us

Learn More

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