WRITING AS A SPIRITUAL PRACTICE: Finding the Zone

sunriseYou are invited to my “Writing as a Spiritual Practice” workshop on Sunday, March 22, at Mercy Center in Burlingame, CA. Do come early to enjoy the beautiful walking trails, exquisite labyrinth, and 500-year old oaks. For more info or to register, click WRITING AS A SPIRITUAL PRACTICE.

When we write in the Zone, we are using writing as a spiritual practice—whether or not we know it!

Like most mystical and semi-mystical experiences, the Zone defies easy explanation. And like most things mystical, we can only point to it; we can never say definitively what it is without losing its essence. When we try to nail it down with specific words, we limit it.

Each of us experiences the Zone a little differently. My experience of the Zone is different from yours. We all know the feeling of being completely focused in present time, thoroughly engaged in what we’re doing, incredibly productive, spontaneous, imaginative, joyful, and writing almost as if something or someone else were doing the work for us—but each of us experiences that phenomenon in a way that is absolutely unique.

Like many spiritual practices, writing in the Zone aims to put us in the path of grace—and out of that state comes a level of creativity that amazes us.

How can we get at the Zone? How can we get it back if we lose it?

We will explore that and more at “Writing as a Spiritual Practice” on March 22, 2015. All are welcome, and bring your friends to enjoy the day. The workshop is 10-4, and lunch is provided.

 

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WRITING AS A SPIRITUAL PRACTICE: Beyond Monkey Mind

trackingYou are invited to my “Writing as a Spiritual Practice” workshop on Sunday, March 22, at Mercy Center in Burlingame, CA. Do come early to enjoy the beautiful walking trails, exquisite labyrinth, and 500-year old oaks. For more info or to register, click WRITING AS A SPIRITUAL PRACTICE.

When we use writing as a spiritual practice, our connection with the divine gets stronger, and our writing gets both better and easier.

The job of a good spiritual practice is to get us beyond our “monkey mind’s” nattering and whining, into that peaceful, energized, creative, clear, spontaneous and joyful place we sometimes call the Zone.

It’s a matter of “out with the old, in with the new.” When we dissolve what’s in the way, all that’s left is that glorious, silent space from which creativity flows.

Some ways writing can take us beyond monkey mind are:

  • Exercises designed to calm the confusion and complaining: journaling, morning pages, free-writing
  • Writing our way out of trouble with such exercises as “Cry and Write,” “Dumping Ground,” “Healing Pages,” and “Clarify the Chaos”

When we’ve mollified the monkeys, we can put ourselves in the way of grace. We can practice the presence of the divine as we write, which is not only great fun but makes our writing an effortless joy.

We will discuss and practice all this and more at “Writing as a Spiritual Practice” on March 22, 2015. All are welcome, and bring your friends to enjoy the day. The workshop is 10-4, and lunch is provided.

 

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WRITING RETREAT: “WRITING AS A SPIRITUAL PRACTICE”

spiritual practiceJump-start your creativity at my day-long retreat on “Writing as a Spiritual Practice” at beautiful Mercy Center in Burlingame, CA, on Sunday, October 5, 2014, 10-4. Lunch is included. Registration closes 9/30, so grab your seat now at http://preview.tinyurl.com/nd547vn.

On this special day of community, enjoyment, and expansion, we will reflect, write, and share about:

  • Resting in the divine as we give expression to the human
  • Gently releasing old blocks, fears, and distractions
  • Practical tips and finding new inspiration

This retreat is back by popular demand, and will include more time to write, share, and explore. We’ll also delve more deeply into subjects like: “Lifting Ourselves.”

Writing is a creative act. It asks us to lift ourselves beyond the everyday world of “to do” lists, work tasks, and grocery shopping into a realm where we see those activities—and all the rest of the universe—through the eyes of the One. With that universal vision, we find greater meaning and joy. We become clearer and more productive. And we bring those riches to whatever we then say about everyday matters.

Each time we go to that higher realm, we come back changed. We may return to the everyday world when it’s time to cook dinner, but the curtain never closes as far as it was before. Each time we enter into the spiritual practice of raising our vision, we shorten the distance between cooking dinner and seeing the face of God.

For more on writing as a spiritual practice, visit my website at www.carolcostello.net.

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RETREAT: WRITING AS A SPIRITUAL PRACTICE

trackingJump-start your creativity at my day-long retreat on “Writing as a Spiritual Practice” at beautiful Mercy Center in Burlingame, CA, on Sunday, October 5, 2014, 10-4. Lunch is included. Registration closes 9/30, so grab your seat now at http://preview.tinyurl.com/nd547vn.

Here’s a taste of what we’ll do:

How can writing bring us closer to the divine—whether we’re doing poetry, fiction, a blog, a journal, letters, or ad copy? And how can we open ourselves to divine inspiration whenever we write? Like many spiritual practices, writing teaches us to pay attention, to clear our emotional field, and to turn our eyes toward God. It can put us in a place to receive grace, give us the means to express our deepest thoughts and feelings, and bring us great joy.

This retreat is back by popular demand, and will include more time to write, share, and explore. We’ll also delve more deeply into subjects like: “Flushing Out the Mental and Emotional Gunk.”

Many of us hesitate to write down anything negative, even in our secret, password-protected journals. I take just the opposite approach. The best place for my gunky, negative, self-limiting thoughts is not in my mind or emotional field—but on a piece of paper or in a Word file.

When I wake up on the wrong side of bed, feel overwhelmed, succumb to confusion, or am just a mess, I open that journal file and write until I feel better and clearer. It hurts nobody, and helps me. Then I can get on with the real writing I was meant to do that day.

For more on writing as a spiritual practice, visit my website at www.carolcostello.net.

 

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KHALED HOSSEINI’S SECRET

KhaledWe all have our pet cures for writers block, and my favorite is one suggested recently by Khaled Hosseini, author of The Kite Runner, A Thousand Splendid Suns, and And the Mountains Echoed.

On “Morning Joe” (8/1/13) he said, “I just start to write something. I start writing, even when I don’t know what I’m going to say. The tough part is beginning. It’s like taking the first postage stamp off a sheet of stamps. The first one is hard to get off, but it gets easier and easier.”

When asked where he gets his inspiration when writers block strikes, he said, “I have a healthy relationship with writers block. I don’t look at it as ‘I can’t think of anything to say.’ I just realize that my approach isn’t working. I step back and take a panoramic view, and think outside the box. (Editor’s note: In the Zone?) The answer is always a surprise.”

He went on to say that he never plans where his books are going or plots out the whole novel. He usually has a vague idea of what might happen with that day’s writing, and he starts there. But even when he has no idea what to put on the empty screen, he starts.

Hosseini writes for love, as we all do, but I find his description of this relationship inspiring, and have made a little sign for my desk with this quote from his interview in Writer’s Digest (July/August 2013):

The temptation to give up, to surrender, is very, very strong. And you have to have faith in the work that you’re doing. You have to have faith that as dark and unlikely and as dreary as things may seem, that it’s worth pursuing, and that there’s a good chance you’ll be glad you did. Writing a novel—this is a cliché—is like a marriage. There are ups and downs, there are times when you just want to leave and close the door, you just want to be alone, you don’t want to hear that voice, and so on and so forth, but it’s well worth it, and I’ve learned that, to stick with it.

You know, I came close to abandoning all three of my books—very, very close, multiple times—where life seemed so much more pleasant if I just didn’t have to try to work my way through the impasse. But I kept working, and I’m thankful every day that I did.

Words to live by, for all of us.

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