All posts tagged: writing

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. She quotes her teacher Saykong Mipham: “Don’t teach anyone anything. Help them discover something.” In a culture that seems full-up with opinion, …

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 — …

Floral Notes and Bardo: I Showered Today

Floral Notes and Bardo: The Creative Chronicles of a Shambhala Mountain Resident is a regular feature on the SMC blog in which a member of our staff/community shares his experience of existing as part of Shambhala Mountain Center. This morning, my skull was a-buzz, body tagging along, narrator giddy and ignorant.  Empty chair across from me — an invitation to settle.  I don’t need a real god to sit there and watch me.  And, I don’t need a real me to write. Strolling down the hill after morning song with Heather, my nose in-and-out of a book — Shantideva/Pema — I got fifteen minutes of reading and studying in on the way down the hill.  Then contemplated a line while in the shower.  I showered today. As the schedule has shifted, and my location, and everything, my routine –scattered — I haven’t been showering very much.  Apparently it is not as important to me as: breakfast, meditation, writing.  Anyway, my body is clean today, and I have a good feeling about the days ahead.  I planted …

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. …

HOW TO BEGIN: Some notes upon arrival

By Bhanu Kapil Some years ago, in India, I was walking down an ordinary residential street behind my mother’s house – hard-baked pink dust, wilted jasmine flowers underfoot, shimmering blue oblongs (the Himalayas) in the distance. I was very far from home, from Colorado (now my home) and from everything that might function as a kind of psychic or practical ground. Perhaps you have walked down a street like this. Perhaps you have experienced the distance as a quality in your own body. On that day, there was too much space, too many contrasts between the different kinds of colors that the world is composed of in any instant: the pale silver of the sky punctuated by the emerald and scarlet flare of a child’s kite above me dipping and tucking on a roof. Perhaps I am simply describing a kind of homesickness in reverse; the way an immigrant might experience the strangeness of not being “at home” at the instant that they find themselves in the place that they are “from.” Perhaps this happens …