SUPERPOWER NUMBER ONE — MEDITATION
In Ruth Ozeki’s novel, A Tale for the Time Being, Nao, a Japanese-American girl struggling both at school and at home, visits her 104-year old grandmother, Jiko, a nun at a mostly abandoned Japanese monastery. During their time together, Jiko shares Zen wisdom with and offers to teach her her “SUPAPAWA.”
“Like a superhero?” Nao asks.”
“Yes,” says Jiko. “SUPAHIRO–! With a SUPAPAWA–!”
And what is this power? Zazen, or Zen meditation.
The story, which is written in diary form, includes her grandmother’s instructions for sitting and counting breath. “One, two, three, etc.,” she writes.” That’s all you have to do. It doesn’t seem like such a great thing, but Jiko is sure that if you do it everyday, your mind will wake up and you will develop your SUPAPAWA–!”
Slowing down in meditation, learning to separate from your thoughts and be present with your breath, leads to a clear mind. It’s amazing what you can see and do when you respond to what’s in front of you rather than what’s rattling around in your head.
SUPERPOWER NUMBER TWO — WRITING PRACTICE
Writing practice is another super power that Natalie Goldberg developed by combining writing with Zen practice. The first and most important rule of writing practice is to set your timer and keep your hand moving until the session is over, just as you stay still on the meditation cushion until someone rings the singing bowl. No crossing out and no judgment. With no thoughts of good or bad, you learn to accept your whole mind.
While I’ve been doing writing practice for twenty years, during my 365 days of Continuous Writing Practice, I discovered how powerful it can be.
Day after day of facing myself in the notebook, untangling beliefs and thoughts, not to mention my many layers of self defense, seems to have rearranged my brain. Writing practice has taught me not to back away from anything.
SUPERPOWER NUMBER THREE — YOGA NIDRA
Recently I’ve discovered yet another superpower: Yoga Nidra. I’ve been trying for years to develop a regular meditation practice, and while I love Zazen, sometimes I’m too fatigued to sit up to practice in the morning. This July, I rented an apartment to work in while my husband was home on leave. While I did make progress on my manuscript while I was there, I also allowed myself to lie down every morning and practice yoga nidra. I purchased Karen Brody’s “Restore” series as a gift to myself and surrendered to Karen’s calm voice every day, letting go completely. It’s the deepest rest I’ve known, and I’m still doing it daily.
And there’s an added benefit. According to Karen, when you practice yoga nidra, “You are plugged in to create – the rational mind takes a backseat allowing access to your wild unconscious mind, the place where most creatives operate their best.”
In the past when I’ve brought up the beauty of yoga nidra, folks have come back to thank me, telling me about the free sessions they’ve found on the Internet. I use those recordings, too, but I favor Karen’s work because it is targeted to women like us: super-creative, busy women, with way too much on our plates and not enough sleep. Nursing women, women in menopause, women caring for children, women caring for parents, women working while caring for everyone else and trying to create.
For the record, I’m not getting any kickback from Karen for promoting her work at Bold Tranquility. It has made such a difference in my life, I want to share it with everybody I know. That said, Karen has made generous offer for members of The Heroine’s Journey for Artists.
Everyone in the class will get a free session from her Restore Series (heaven) and a 20% discount on her Well Rested Woman series. This is offered not as an incentive for taking the class, but as a gift for the women who’ve signed up. I have one more slot open, if you are interested. Information here.
During the Creative Mix Mini-Retreat (October 22), we will work with all three super powers, sitting, writing and resting our way toward our deepest work. Details coming next week.
What is your superpower? How do you slow down and untangle your mind? I’d love to hear about it.