When we speak of the Zone, we use words like magical, mystical, out of time and space, completely focused in the present, clear, creative, energized, spontaneous, and joyful.
These words also show up when we talk about spirituality. Being in the Zone puts us in a great position to encounter the divine, and many spiritual practices train people to be in exactly the place that we call the Zone. Spiritual teachers often say that our job is simply to make ourselves available, and that the divine reaches in with grace and does the rest when we’ve put ourselves in that place. So for me, using writing as a spiritual practice means being in the Zone as much as I can, and trusting that good things will happen.
THE ZONE IS EVERYWHERE
Writing as a spiritual practice doesn’t necessarily mean writing about spiritual subjects. We can use this practice whether we’re writing poetry, fiction, technical material, blogs, journal entries, letters, or even ad copy.
As a reporter in Chicago, I once had a numinous experience while writing a news story about evils in the vacuum packed meat industry. It’s not about the words themselves, or even the effect they have on readers; it’s about the place we come from, the state in which we intentionally place ourselves when we sit down to write. That is the practice.
USING THIS PRACTICE
All we really need in order to make writing a spiritual practice is the intention to do so—and perhaps a few reminders. As with any spiritual practice, it’s easy to get distracted. A few of the things that distract me from using writing as a spiritual practice are: a floating miasma of worries, guilt, the resulting fuzz-brain, dark fears that I can’t or won’t succeed, being in a hurry to finish what I’m writing, and a wide variety of temptations like computer games.
Some pre-practices I use to counter these proclivities are: a candle on my desk, a post-it with an “om” symbol over the “on” button on my computer, and setting my alarm to chime every half hour as a signal to stop and remember.
Like spiritual practice in general, using writing as a spiritual practice is humbling, revealing, and an inside job. And like any spiritual practice, it yields rich rewards. There are challenges along the way, and it’s a bit stressful not to be 100% in charge, but it makes me feel good to trust and persevere, to make friends with the discomfort, to breathe, and to let go into the divine.