This past Saturday a group of us met at the Dharma Center for a day of writing and meditation, a first for One Dharma. Despite some early morning snow and initial travel uncertainty, the retreat went on and gratefully, all the available slots were filled. I was very relieved the weather didn’t cause us to cancel as two people had come in from Knoxville and two others from St Louis. I’m always grateful to google when interested out of towners find our retreats!
At this workshop we spent a lot of time writing, quite a bit more than many attending were accustomed to. This kind of focused writing, like meditation, will quickly reveal a person’s blocks and doubts. The process of learning to accommodate the discomfort, the hesitation and dry spells is identical to we do in our sitting practice. Finding room for the imperfections, the times that the writing practice deviates from expectations, is vital to persevering and tapping into the deeper well of creativity and insight. Most people had at least taste of this at the retreat, while some reported important breakthroughs that opened up new depth in their writing.
I heard from a number of people who were interested in attending but couldn’t make it this time. Nashville also had two other daylong meditation retreats happening on Saturday, a rarity for our town. Because of the interest I anticipate we will do this again before too long. In the mean time, keep sitting, and for you writers, keep writing! Here’s reinforcement from Ajahn Chah that applies to both:
“It’s like a child who is learning to write. At first he doesn’t write nicely — big, long loops and squiggles — he writes like a child. After a while the writing improves through practice. Practicing the Dhamma is like this. At first you are awkward…sometimes calm, sometimes not, you don’t really know what’s what. Some people get discouraged. Don’t slacken off! You must persevere with the practice. Live with effort, just like the schoolboy: as he gets older he writes better and better. From writing badly he grows to write beautifully, all because of the practice.”