As a meditation and martial arts teacher, life coach, and author, I am always looking for hints from life that illuminate the inner journey of awakening.
The awakening process can be greatly benefited by certain types of meditation, but if you’ve ever meditated you will know that doing it is not always easy. Often we sit down and just struggle. Many of us find that our minds often rebel, causing us to get frustrated or distracted, and ultimately we may just give up.
After joining several author groups it became clear to me that, like meditation, many authors also suffer from the same mental rebellion when they sit down to write, a rebellion that is directly hitting their bottom line. Authors who are not producing regular, consistent content are not making ends meat (a word meaning to take fleshly form).
The Cost of Being Distracted
Rebellion of the mind is not something that we can allow, because our livelihoods depend upon productivity. Fortunately, long ago, I learned a lesson from an unexpected teacher that has helped me to overcome the rebellion of the mind. I’d like to share what I learned in hopes that it may assist you to be a more productive, less frustrated, well-fed writer.
As I go through life I am constantly keeping an eye out for life lessons. I never know where the lessons are going to come from or who will be my teacher. One Sunday at the park a young girl unwittingly became my teacher.
My wife and I were at the park entrance to meet some friends for a picnic. We brought our dogs, as we usually do. We had a large shepherd and a small Chinese crested dog.
Mindfulness vs. Mindlessness
Our friends had an eight-year-old daughter, named Kotomi, who said she really loved dogs, although she had never owned or even walked one. She was eager to walk our small dog for the day.
My wife and I are pretty knowledgeable about dogs and know lots of techniques to improve human/dog communication for better cohesiveness. We explained to Kotomi how she was to hold the leash, where the dog should be in the walk (next to her or behind her, not in front), etc. The little girl listened innocently and nodded that she understood.
Leila, our Chinese crested dog was always great on walks, but she had never been walked by anyone other than us, and that day she was apparently determined not to be walked by this girl. As my wife handed the leash to Kotomi, Leila looked at me as if to say, “What the #*%&?”
Shortly after we began our walk, Leila decided that she was going to sniff here and go there, regardless of where Kotomi was heading. Kotomi, feeling the weight of Leila on the leash, took the leash over her left shoulder and leaned forward into the walk—all technique out the window. Leila was being pulled.
Leila, not wanting to follow, leaned back and shook her head left and right, bucking against her new walker. Kotomi just kept moving forward, apparently oblivious to Leila’s feelings. I felt kind of bad for Leila, but she wasn’t facing any physical harm. She was testing her new walker, which is not uncommon for dogs.
Curiosity had me, and I wanted to see how this scenario would play out.
Leila, for her part, certainly put up a great fight! Kotomi never once looked back. She was all smiles. It was as if she had forgotten that there was a dog on the other end of the leash. Kotomi moved forward. The dog fought.
Five minutes passed with Leila still locked in resistance mode. Ten minutes passed with no change. I began wondering if Leila would ever submit to her new leader, and considered taking the leash myself. But then it happened. Just like flipping a light switch, Leila changed her attitude and started walking with Kotomi. Within a minute or so, she was next to Kotomi and overjoyed.
For the rest of the day she was the perfect dog. She sniffed, wagged her tail and even let Kotomi pick her up, the first stranger ever to do so successfully. Kotomi had won a fight that she never even took part in!
She just moved forward mindlessly.
Moving Forward Quiets the Mind
After this lesson I began teaching my meditation and martial arts students the secret of moving forward. For us writers there is a lot to contend with.
First, there are the distractions like Facebook, YouTube, email, or television that get us out of sync with our intention to write.
Then, when we do focus on writing, there may be rebellion. Many of us, when our minds rebel, get pretty frustrated.
Our minds might say to us, “I’m no good at this, and I never will be. I’m just wasting time,” or “I’m not inspired now, so I can’t write anything good. I’ll try again tomorrow.”
The problem is that tomorrow never comes. All we have is right now! There never was a tomorrow, and there never will be.
Either you are moving forward in the moment or you are not.
So, when you sit down to write, turn off all external distractions, decide how long you are going to write, and then just be there for that allotted time.
If great ideas fail to materialize, just write anything. Start with another story if you need to. Just get some forward momentum.
If you set aside 30 minutes to write, then be there for 30 minutes. Don’t turn around and negotiate with that dog.
Forget your techniques. Just walk.
The dog will tire and come along eventually, and before you know it, you will have a new friend that supports your writing—and your life.