All posts tagged: writing

The Nature and Purpose of Śamatha

// by B. Alan Wallace Buddhist inquiry into the natural world proceeds from a radically different point of departure than western science, and its methods differ correspondingly. Early pioneers of the scientific revolution, including Copernicus, Kepler, and Galileo, expressed an initial interest in the nature of physical objects most far removed from human subjectivity: such issues as the relative motions of the sun and earth, the surface of the moon, and the revolutions of the planets. And a central principle of scientific naturalism is the pure objectification of the natural world, free of any contamination of subjectivity. This principle of objectivism demands that science deals with empirical facts testable by empirical methods entailing testability by third-person means; and such facts must, therefore, be public rather than private, which is to say, they must be accessible to more than one observer. Another aspect of this principle is that scientific knowledge — paradigmatically knowledge of astronomy and physics — must be epistemically objective, which is to say, observer-independent. A profound limitation of this ideal is that it …

Healing Sound

Freedom within the Dimensions of Silent Retreat Practice 

by Janet Solyntjes // Do you associate the practice of mindfulness meditation with freedom? How is freedom discovered within the form of a meditation retreat?  This article is intended to offer a framework in which to view silent retreat practice as a path to freedom.  The Gateway to Retreat: Motivation and Preparation  The gateway to retreat is acknowledging your personal motivation for retreat practice. Motivation is often based in a longing of the heart and a curiosity of the mind. The following questions might spark a knowing of your personal motivation: Are you seeking to bring a renewed inspiration into your life and relationships? Do you long for a deeper appreciation for your mindfulness meditation practice? Are you curious if hours of formal mindfulness and awareness practice will positively influence your sense of being human?   Having touched into the spark of personal motivation you will need to follow with some preparation.  The most important preparation involves cultivating an inner resolve to abandon any hope of fruition. Really.  Let go of hope regarding the outcomes of retreat.  Let go of fear, too. Simply attend to the three dimensions of retreat, as best you can.   The Outer Dimension of Retreat: Environment  Over thousands of years and across the globe, women and men have sought places of seclusion and quietude for engaging in deep contemplation and meditation.  What did their places of refuge look like? Picture Henry David Thoreau spending time along the shores of …

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 …

[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 …

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 …

WATCH: Susan Piver on Writing, Magic, and Meditation

You probably already know who Susan Piver is — because she is famous for helping people through her writing. She’s a New York Times Best-selling author of titles like How not to be Afraid of Your Own Life and The Wisdom of a Broken Heart. You probably already know that! But, what you may not know, what may come as a surprise, is that the main impetus for this writer — who has helped tens of thousands of people through her writing — is not to be helpful, necessarily. Rather, it is to discover something. If this makes you wonder about what it means to be a “helpful person” or an “artist” — good! In our recent interview, Susan spoke powerfully about the creative process and its healing potential, and how discovery is a phenomena that a writer can experience themselves, but cannot quite provide for readers. Rather, perhaps, they can set the stage. Susan also speaks about meditation — which she has been teaching for decades — and how this relates to writing. And also …

How to Write Memoir, Spiritual Memoir and/or a Novel: 10 Key Elements of Story Structure

  By Albert Flynn DeSilver ~~~ How to write a novel, a memoir? Honestly, I have no idea, even though I’ve written both. I’m joking. Sort of. Writing a memoir or novel is a great and beautifully complicated mystery, and yet there are some pointed things to be said to guide you along. How to write a novel, a memoir, a poem, a script, a short story, an essay. . .begins with desire, an urge, a need—to say something significant and important from your unique perspective and experience. In that regard the trick is to first connect with that insatiable drive, that gnawing need, and let it propel you forward. Add to that your biting curiosity, your burning joy for words and stories, language and song, and let the practice itself be your inscrutable guide. A novel begins as an idea, a seed, an inkling in the brain that slowly starts to take shape and form like a flower in bloom. The other trick is transferring this idea from your mind to the page and …

Writing as a Path to Awakening

By Albert Flynn DeSilver Writing as a Path to Awakening is a dynamic and fun process using mindfulness as a way to deepen your writing practice and expand your creative potential. Spiritual practice has always brought insight to my writing—increasing the flow of ideas, the big open inclusive ideas of beauty and of being and of surrendering to a state of love and compassion. Too often we get pigeon-holed into false conceptions of ourselves. There are a million distractions, negative self talk, old voices of doubt and self recrimination often holding us back. We experience it in the form of writer’s block, in the creation of flat characters, in novels left half-written collecting dust on the table. I know if my heart of hearts when people have a safe place to express their true poetic self they can realize who they really are, and this process of awakening can change the world. If you take a look at the great spiritual teachers from around the world— Gandhi, the Dalai Lama, Amma, Thich Nhat Hanh — …

Q&A: Susan Piver Discusses the Writer’s Groove and “Fearlessly Creative”

By Travis Newbill Susan Piver leads Fearlessly Creative: A Meditation and Writing Retreat, December 20-23 A couple of common obstacles that most writers–or would be writers–encounter: 1) No time to write! 2) The fear of putting the pen to the page (err, typing words into the computer). Meditation teacher and New York Times Bestselling Author Susan Piver has a remedy. It involves structuring daily life in a way that is conducive to creative work, and…practicing meditation. Does that sound simple? Impossible? Worth exploring? This weekend, Susan will be leading a retreat at SMC which is intended to provide a space for writers to find their groove and produce work, and also to model a routine which will allow them to live more fully as writers in their daily lives. Recently, Susan took some time to discuss the retreat. So, what is the intended purpose of this retreat? Susan Piver: If you have something that you want to work on—a book, a memoir, anything—this program is meant to provide a container for you to do so. …