All posts filed under: Creative Expression

[Video] Susan Piver Discusses Meditation and Writing

If someone were able to take a snapshot of your mind right now, what would it look like? If you were able to choose when this image would be taken, when would that be? What would you do to prepare? Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche says that as we practice meditation, our thoughts become more elegant — and likewise our spoken and written words, and the myriad other expressions (or snapshots) of mind. From that point of view, the link between meditation and writing seems to be quite clear: sit, settle, allow for some clarity, and then express. Meditation can also be helpful in navigating the obstacles that come up during the writing process, such as doubt, and can help us to fine-tune our relationship to our mind and world, so that what we express in writing is perhaps more luminous than it would be otherwise. The relationship between meditation and writing is a huge topic, and there are several avenues for exploration, including practical questions like “How can one find time for both writing and meditation?” …

Albert Flynn DeSilver

Albert Flynn DeSilver on Writing as a Path to Awakening

Albert Flynn DeSilver is a well known poet, memoirist, novelist, and one of the foremost teachers of writing as a spiritual path.  In this recent interview, he shares insight into how the seemingly paradoxical practices of meditation (which involves dropping thoughts) and writing (which involves solidifying thoughts) are actually quite complimentary.  And, in case anyone thinks that to be a spiritual writer you must only write about sunsets, God, and geese, we asked Albert to speak about finding divinity in the quotidian moments—eating donuts, for example—and how we may awaken through writing about such experiences.    Enjoy the full video interview below, or scroll down to stream or download the audio. Stream audio below. To download, click here. About the Authors Albert Flynn DeSilver is an internationally published poet, writer, speaker, and workshop leader. His latest book is Writing as a Path to Awakening (based on his popular workshops by the same name) and will be released September 1st from Sounds True. Albert served as Marin County, California’s very first Poet Laureate from 2008-2010. His work …

Susan Piver on Meditation and Creativity

By Susan Piver // The other day, I read a tweet from someone looking for advice about taking up meditation for creative reasons. Could it help one become more creative, they wondered? I’ve had ample opportunity to study this question. I lead meditation and writing retreats that are about reconnecting with our own creativity and, beyond that, with the moment of inspiration. And after all, what is creativity, exactly, besides a continuous series of moments of inspiration? Which raises the questions: What is inspiration and where does it come from? Can my meditation practice help? When it comes to the latter question, the answer is “absolutely” and “maybe not.” Fascinatingly, Dictionary.com offers us this definition of “to inspire”: “To infuse into the mind; to communicate to the spirit; to convey, as by a divine or supernatural influence; to disclose preternaturally; to produce in, as by inspiration.” And this: “To draw in by the operation of breathing; to inhale.” At no point is the definition offered: “to be clever” or “to impress.” Rather, the definition points …

Reading As a Path to Awakening

By Albert Flynn DeSilver // Here’s a funny question: What is reading? I mean really. The act of looking at words splayed out across a page or screen? (An army of ants skittering across an expanse of white sand, a flock of geese strewn windward against a dusk-lit sky). Maybe reading is a primal act of tracking and hunting. Footprints, deer trails, wing movements in the batted-down brush. We are looking for signs of movement, action, food. Contemporary reading is based on an ancient primal embodied knowledge of studying the landscape—scrawl of branches against a winter sky, tide patterns left in the sand at the tip of the ocean’s reach, a musical script the wind left via quick ripples against the calm face of the bay, hexagonal patterns of drought-cracked earth, debris patterns at flood lines, terminal moraines and glacial erratics (giant stones left behind in open meadows by receding glaciers). Each a lone word, sentence, phrase, or paragraph—nature leaves her book wide open, her journal pages flapping in the wind, for us to drink …

Healing Sound

Becoming

By Richard Rudis // Let’s imagine it’s approximately 2,600 years ago and you’re sitting by the bank of the slow moving river Nairanjana somewhere in ancient India. The sunrise is dazzling and the early morning rays warm your face. The only sound is that of a light wind in the tree-tops and the Earth awakening to a new day. As the morning fog lifts a huge tree, previously unnoticed, materializes high above you on the river bank. Among its large surrounding roots a thin, a stately man is seated in peaceful mediation; his eyes half closed, his expression serene, his energy mountain still. Fascinated you doggedly vow to remain near by, refusing the desire to wander off to participate in life beyond this moment. Unhurriedly time passes. Eventually the man stands and with a half smile he acknowledges you before walking into the surrounding jungle. Unwilling to release the subject of your vigil you follow. Several weeks pass softly wandering while going about life’s chores. You sense that superficial space and time appear to warp …

Follow

By Katharine Kaufman // Be soft in your practice. Think of the method as a fine silvery stream, not a raging waterfall. Follow the stream, have faith in its course. It will go it’s own way, meandering here, trickling there. It will find the grooves, the cracks, the crevices. Just follow it. Never let it out of your sight. It will take you. ~Sheng-yen In January 1994 I was lay ordained in the Soto Zen lineage. On my way to Hokoji Zendo I gave Fran Lewis a ride. Fran is an early student of Chogyam Trungpa and best friend of Kobun Chino, Roshi. Fran was the first outwardly outrageous person I met on this Dharma path, long white hair in two thick braids, big glasses, layered and colorful clothes. She says what ever she wants, tells wild funny stories about the 60’s, and cuts through pretention like a Samurai. During the seven-hour drive I have a lot of questions about what I’m in for. “Don’t doubt your Guru!” Fran repeats. In Arroyo Secco Kobun serves …

Wisdom & Compassion

By Katharine Kaufman // It was Kobun Chino’s birthday a few days ago. If he was still alive Fran would give him some birthday money and he’d spend it all at the Pacific Mercantile. Lesley would make him sushi. I would be his assistant, along with others. He’d show up late and drive the president crazy. Zen would be very popular at Naropa. Certain Zen Centers would disapprove of the wild lineage…but they would love Kobun. ~ But he’s not here and we are. I am. ~ In 1994 at the beginning of a three month practice period in the Santa Cruz Mountains, Michael Newhall put his two hands on my back and pushed me up the hill to try to catch Kobun Chino, who was about to drive away. ~ When you want to be on this Soto path you sew a rakasu (the bib like fabric that maybe you’ve seen, sort of short hand for a full robe). I am told in Shakyamuni Buddha’s time people used fabric from piles of discarded cloth. …

Spread-your-wings, oh beautiful Jaybird!

Photo: © 2016 Richard A. Swaback   Spread-your-wings, oh beautiful Jaybird!           Placing seed outside my window        Bringing close to view      Amazing birds!    Winter at SMC.   Nuthatches, Juncos, Mountain Chickadees  Magpies, Woodpeckers, to name a few. Arrive before daybreak Stellar’s Jays. Skittish merest reflection in my window glass  and    Off,       off          with rounded wing,              seeking shelter                 in  Ponderosa branches. — Richard Swaback . . About the Author .  Naturalist, photographer, creative person, Richard “Dickie” Swaback, long time resident at Shambhala Mountain Center, is fascinated by the inhabitants of the natural world, large and small, whether it be microorganisms, plants, insects, mammals, birds or amphibians that reside at SMC. “Dickie’s” curiosity knows no bounds as he explores the dynamic interrelations of life at SMC . He recently published a 30-page booklet “Biodiversity at Shambhala Mountain Center”, a brief photo essay of some of the life …