When my mind gets stuck in the day-to-day grind, my writing invariably suffers. My creative juices seem to drain away until I find myself channel surfing for a distraction from my own stagnation. Consequently, I get absolutely nothing accomplished.
The Zen Zone
When I was growing up I spent a lot of time in wilderness areas, whether camping, hiking, playing as a child, or, as I got older, meditating. When I began the latter, I discovered my own ‘Zen Zone’; a sense of complete relaxation when surrounded by the splendors of earth and nature where I could refresh, reconnect, and recharge.
Many times, my meditations would be undirected and were little more than quiet moments where I allowed the evening carols of birds, the symphony of the evening breeze, and the serenade of sunlight or moonlight to strip away the chaos and stress of the day or week. I would close my eyes and center my attention on the simplest thing. Lay in the grass to watch ants scurry or bees buzz and let everything else fall away.
These moments of quietness not only refreshed me spiritually, but also refueled my creativity. They became an easily accessible retreat where I refocused on what I found important and reinitialized the magic of imagination and creativity.
The concept of recharging our creative batteries isn’t new. Just like sleeping when we’re tired or eating when we’re hungry, giving ourselves what we need to maintain creative health is equally important, particularly if you’re a writer! Giving yourself a mini-retreat where you can do this can easily become part of your writing routine and it takes very little preparation.
First, find a quiet place. It doesn’t necessarily have to be outdoors, but should be somewhere you can see, hear, touch, smell and possible taste your surroundings.
Next, utilizing all of your senses, inspect, observe and sift through every nuance of your surroundings within five or ten square feet of where you are sitting. If you can’t get outdoors, you can use your imagination instead. Find a beautiful picture and place yourself in it.
In a journal or notebook, write down each of your five senses. Then, explore every facet of the things around you, writing down whatever comes to mind about your surroundings. Don’t limit yourself to making sense or trying to organize right now. Just breathe and write.
Lying back upon the grass in my quiet little yard under the glimmering glow of a nearly full moon.
(Listen) : hearing most prominently the whirring sound of many a/c units running. Once I put that aside however, I heard the gentle whisper of the breeze telling me secrets from far away and the occasional chirp of a bird (which always makes my imagination stir. Why do they sing at night? Are they having a bad dream? Did some creature steal into the nursery to snatch a fledgling? Or are they, too, simply enjoying the shimmering show of the moon?) I heard the distant rumble of a train and, as ever, the garish noise of traffic from the city not far enough away.
(See): Opening my eyes, I saw first the spectacle of the moon, dancing amid a rolling tide of puffy white clouds sailing effortlessly across the sky. I saw the shadows of trees across the way and the rustling of their leafy tresses as the night breezes ran their fingers through their hair. I noticed a nearby rabbit, no doubt awaiting another slice of apple as I am in a habit of giving them apples in the evening; and of course, I saw the stars: those delicate sparkles of ethereal light that ever fill me with lyrical musing (but that is another post!)
(Smell): I drew a deep breath and smelled the warm humidity that hung on the air like heavy fog mixed with a hint of asphalt from the nearby road. Not terribly pleasant, but not repulsive. Clean, hot night air. Nothing more.
(Taste): Since I was not eating or drinking, I tasted nothing. Not a wasted sense, though, as I certainly could have been sipping sweet lemonade.
(Touch): Reaching down I ran my fingers through the July grass that is rapidly drying up and turning into something much more straw-like than it once had been. I tousled the heads of a few clovers, now resting from the scurrying-hurrying bees that plunder their sweetness all the day long; and I reached outward to caress the sky, feeling the warm blush of the air against my palms and slipping through my fingers as I sighed deeply and smiled, meditating upon the simple yet profound Blessing of five extraordinary senses.
Five by Five
Refresh. Reconnect. Recharge. Refocus. Reinitialize.
Sight. Sound. Taste. Smell. Touch.
I do hope you will try this wonderful exercise. It can help create a plethora of potential scenes for any number of creative projects, stir the inspiration of your thoughts, or, at the very least, kindle the wonder of your spirit in the beauty of the world around us.