The practice of writing is an exploration of consciousness, a practice toward deeper self-awareness, and moves us along the path of awakening to our true nature. Many of our greatest spiritual teachers from around the world were, and are, writers. From Sappho in the 7th century BC, to Pema Chodron—from Rumi in the 13th century, to Thomas Merton, Jack Kornfield, and the Dalai Lama—the written word has the power, not only to inspire, but also to awaken the very best in the human heart.
Our best artists, the most truly successful writers are those that have figured out how to balance art and life. Art (writing) is a spiritual practice, and no spiritual practice can be made manifest without turning inward and spending time in silence. This is why I have found the practice of meditation to be essential to my practice of writing, and I simply do not teach one without the other.
We’ve all heard and read countless stories of supposedly brilliant intellectual writers who have gone on to become great alcoholics, epic narcissists, home and community wreckers. Lets face it writing or any art is dangerous territory. At it’s best and most committed being an artist requires a complete emotional and perceptual openness, which can be not only terrifying, but a huge responsibility for self and society. Writers and artists spend a lot of time in their heads trying to think their way to freedom when we know that true spiritual and artistic freedom comes from connecting with and surrendering to that great mystery that makes thought and art even possible.
True spirituality and true artistry requires that we show up in mind, body and spirit, not just in mind and thought. The only way to show up in body and spirit is through the contemplative practices of meditation, yoga, and chanting—preferably all three. These practices require turning inward beyond the mind, and spending uncomfortable amounts of time in silence.
Meditation is done for it’s own sake and with no striving for results or outcome, which is heresy in our culture. So to appease the skeptical; I will attend to some of the results I have experienced and ask you to not believe me, but rather join us at a Writing as a Path to Awakening writing and meditation class or retreat, and find out for yourself.
Benefits of Meditation
Meditation classes are good for your mind, body, and soul, and especially your creativity and writing practice. Benefits of meditation include:
- Relief from anxiety and stress
- Helping to alleviate feelings of loneliness, despair, and depression
- Increased optimism and awareness
- Improved cognitive skills
- Improved memory function
- Enhanced creativity
Meditation is even known to improve the immune system, reduce blood pressure, and improve balanced breathing and heart rates.
I started meditating more than twenty years ago at the Spirit Rock Meditation Center, where many of their founding teachers including the great Jack Kornfield and Sylvia Boorstein are fantastic writers.
What to Expect at a Meditation Retreat
At any meditation retreat you can expect to experience the full spectrum of emotions from boredom, frustration, anger, and rage, to loneliness, joy, peace and harmony, and even ecstasy. One thing you will notice is that these emotions don’t last, they fluctuate and change. This is the truth of impermanence. The truth is we never know what might arise in silence, the practice involves holding whatever arises with love and compassion and beyond judgment. Sometime these strong emotions can show up on retreats, so it’s best to start with an introductory meditation class. Meditation retreats can consist of a large or small amount of attendees and can range in time from one day to several weeks. A few things you can expect at a meditation retreat with Albert Flynn DeSilver:
- A peaceful and serene setting.
- Healthy meals.
- Clear and concise instruction.
- Supportive insightful instructors.
- Dynamic, innovative, and transformative practices.
- A powerful, professional, and supportive container.
What to Expect from Meditation Classes
If you are just starting out it’s best to begin with a meditation class. This could be a half day, evening or daylong program covering the basics on how to meditate, how to sustain a practice and how to connect with further meditation classes and retreats.
Meditation and Writing as a Path to Awakening
Mindfulness and mindfulness meditation creates the conditions for enhanced creativity by providing a space for solitude, self-reflection, and awareness. Writing itself is a path to awakening. It is a process of utilizing the practice of writing to cultivate deeper self-awareness, increased emotional intelligence, and overall expansion of consciousness.
Writing as a Path to Awakening always begins with a primal human question; Who am I? Who am I, really? I can not tell what I am, because words can describe only what I am not, said the great Indian mystic Nisargadatta Maharaj.
We set off writing on the path to awakening by tuning into what we are not. “Neti, neti,” they say in India “not this, not this.” They say this as a process of negating that which is fleeting and untrue in order to access that which is divinely permanent and true. If we are not what words can describe, and words can describe pretty much everything in the physical/emotional universe, then what the heck are we? This is Writing as a Path to Awakening’s ultimate question, with the invitation to write and live your way into the answer. Writing as a Path to Awakening is about how conscious living informs conscious writing (creativity)—and in turn, how conscious writing and creativity inform conscious living.
If Writing as a Path to Awakening ends (which it doesn’t, maybe only in the sense that a sentence ends) it does so always in the heart of love and compassion.
I hope you’ll join us!
If you’d like to learn more about meditation or writing as a path to awakening, check out and attend one of our upcoming events.
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