Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Sitting, the kaizen way, a writing practice...

The Kaizen way of doing things is to initiate small changes on one's way to success - whatever the heck that is. Big changes scare the amygdila and cause sabotages to occur. I have made a very small change for my sitting practice. My goal is to sit daily and to join both meditation and contemplation together in my practice. I do all right for awhile then I fall off the cushion (!). A fellow practitioner and artist, my pal Annie, gave me both the kaizen book and a tiny improvement she made to her practice in order to keep it steady. She drinks her tea while she sits. She's going to take time to drink her tea in the morning anyway and as she also wants to sit - this aids her to make it habitual. Ah ha! My dear guy brings me coffee every morning and I stay in bed reading and sipping. Over the last month what I've done is read for half my cup of coffee then take it to the cushion (my shrine is in our bedroom).  I light my candles, fill my water bowls, do some morning chants and I'm on my way. My dear dog comes to join me most mornings. He lies beside my cushion with his elegant doggy legs nicely crossed. He stands when I dedicate the merit. He wants to be born in his next life with some practice under his collar.

This tiny adjustment has made it easy for me to do my practice - after all - I am going to drink my coffee in the morning so why not? Now, I'm looking for a small adjustment so that my writing practice has the same built in do-ability. When we are strengthening our practices, our disciplines, we don't have to make a big to-do about it. It was great to train for a marathon. For seven months I walked my feet to bloody nubs. But it didn't stay - sure I walk every day but I don't exert myself as I like. Same as when I did the NaNoWriMo - it was great to be able to complete it - to do the 50 thou. but the practice doesn't remain as solid as I would like. I'd rather make small adjustments that get me sitting in front of my keyboard daily with my manuscript up and ready.

It is like brushing one's teeth or putting our seat belt on - we don't have to decide every day to do this - we just decide once and make it a habit.  First I will consider what already has worked in my writing practice - I do have three books written right through and another nearly so - which means I have been writing. What has gotten me here so far?
  • writing on Tuesdays with Gwen - a steady weekly practice that has been all but inviolate
  • writing retreats both home-based and away
  • writing my goals on my writing blog and reporting on them!
  • having a dedicated room that I keep fairly (!) organized and cheerful
  • having friends and books that encourage my process to hand
There have been times of greater effort - I'm thinking of when I was working on The Rock Walker - at one point I was madly doing revision - I had beat sheets - that definitely assisted me - and that I took everywhere - even to medical appointments - or when I was waiting for others at certain places.


Lately, one thing I've been doing is to try and not schedule my clients until 11 o'clock. If I get up by 6:30, and I usually do, I can meditate, walk the dog and write for an hour or so, on those days that I see clients. That seems good and I will try and make sure of that. It means leaving here at 10:10 or so. Another thing that I could do is have a writing practice book - I have a meditation practice book and it helps me to stay on course as I check off my practice every morning. Seems childish I know but whatever works.
What about you all? Any small adjustments that you've made to make sure you write daily?

photos were taken on my retreat to Elizabeth Bishop House in Great Village, NS.

9 comments:

Karen Walker said...

Jan, I love this series you are doing on the Kaizen way. I think I have to get that book now. I wanted to incorporate meditation into my daily practice, but I haven't managed to do it every day. Keeping it small might help me. Perhaps I'll just light a candle before writing. Thank you.
Karen

Eve said...

Very cool Jan..your area is so tidy..mine is more dissheveled, it is easier to do things when we make them just one of those things we do, and take the big-dealness away from them..

Margot Kinberg said...

Jan - Thanks for sharing some of the changes you've made so your writing becomes a daily habit and so that you're more in touch with yourself. I really like your workspace, too! I think one of the important things you do is simply clear your mind and focus on your writing. You can't force creativity, but you can be optimised for it....

KarenG said...

Wow this was so inspirational and I loved it! I am struggling with the same things. I need to make writing and exercising daily top priorities and it is harder than I thought!

welcome to my world of poetry said...

Very inspirational Jan though still a bit jet laggged I read it twice, wonderful write.
Yvonne.

Jan Morrison said...

Karen - glad you like it - it makes it very poignant to be trying it and reporting on it!

Eve - the workspace there is just one I used at Elizabeth Bishop House - sometimes my desk and office are tidy and mostly NOT!

Margot - I so agree - you have to show up every day whether the muse does or not...

Karen - that is interesting because I always think of you as very disciplined!

Yvonne - you're home! I hope your trip was all you wanted it to be...

M Pax said...

What a great article. I should practice meditating more. Now I have a path on how to do so. Thanks.

niamh said...

i find this inspiring, I've fallen off the habit wagon...!:)

Elspeth Antonelli said...

I so enjoy these posts, Jan. There is a real peace seeping out of them. Well done.