I've published a piece at WBUR's Cognoscenti on mindful writing to celebrate National Poetry Month. It's about how I handle creative emptiness and also about how poetry started in my life because of a medication and birth defects.
You can find the article here.
I'll be giving a Mindful Writing presentation for NH Humanities on April 14, 2023, 5 PM EST. This talk is sponsored by NH Humanities and is online & free to the public.
Mindful writing is the nonjudgmental observation of the ever-changing present to gain a healthy perspective on our internalized critics, better manage our preconceptions, and enjoy access to continuously arising wording and ideas. Mindfulness at the desk leads to increased self-confidence in our creativity and stronger connection with others. This session provides an overview of mindful writing as well as hands-on practice with techniques easily replicated later at home.
Book and articles:
Prolific Moment: Theory and Practice of Mindfulness for Writing (Routledge 2018).
Promo code SS225, when used at checkout at https://www.routledge.com/,
will generate a 25% discount.
NCTE Mindful Writing Webinar Series at National Council of Teachers
of English.Host and architect of show. (A new series is happening in September/October 2022: more info soon): here. here. And here.
Mindful Writing: A Conversation. Featured speaker at What a Word
is WorthPodcast: Conversations with Creative People on Collective
Lecture at Landmark College, Putney, VT. February 23, 2022: video.
Keynote Address on Mindful Writing for Secondary Schools Writing Centers
I invited the students in my ENL 221: Mindful Writing course to share their thoughts on groundlessness with you.
Authors: Dasia Dobbs, Meghan Miraglia, J. G. Bova, camryn rose, Bailey Hughes, J.P, Gabrielle Vitiello, Sofia Ciriello, Iliana De Peña, R. LeBlanc Lutts, Casey Saraceno, Joseph Tadesse, Matthew Lydon, and Phoebe Leo.
QUESTION 1: How would you explain groundlessness to a friend or family member?
I would explain groundlessness as a form of recognition without preconceptions, being open to what is already happening but not too fixated on it.
Groundlessness is letting go of all control, all preconceptions, ideas, opinions, etc.
I would explain groundlessness as letting go of your preconceptions and start looking at everything around you with a benign indifference. The world is what it is and you are just floating in it.
Groundlessness is the acceptance that there is no ultimate answer or destination or reason for being. It is the ability to accept everything and nothing simultaneously.
Groundlessness is being more open minded to the ideas of things in question, it is a question with the answer being more willing to listen to more ideas.
Groundlessness is a state of knowing and unknowing in which people simultaneously find comfort and discomfort all at once; the notion that our existence simply is.
Groundlessness is the complete release of depending on things that keep you numb. You may think you're secure, but groundlessness pushes you to a space of deep discomfort and lack of control.
Groundlessness is just being okay with the fact that nothing stays the same.
Groundlessness is not holding onto your teachings as the rule because there is more to everything than what you were taught and you should be open to experiencing more.
Groundlessness is a being open minded to things going on in your mind.
Realizing that nothing is permanent and just accepting that everything is constantly changing. Just like our breath is constantly changing so is everything else, nothing will stay the same.
Groundlessness is the state of letting go of preconceptions and other thoughts.
Groundlessness is the idea of truly understanding and being able to accept change. Everything changes all the time everyday, every second.
The way that I would explain groundlessness is that it's an idea where you would not hold on to things and make room for other things without clinging to one idea.
I would explain this as a way of letting go of all other perceptions so that they do not reflect and cause me to hold onto preconceived thoughts. This can cause you to lose your own wisdom.
QUESTION 2: Why should we be interested in groundlessness?
You should be interested because it gives us the freedom to simply be and to exist without fear—since whatever you're doing is enough.
Doing this will not hold you back to new experiences, ideas, opinions, etc. if you cling on to something or don’t challenge yourself, you are vulnerable.
We should be interested in groundlessness because anything that keeps us dependent keeps us unreal. These things we over-rely on make us unknowable, even to ourselves. Groundlessness helps us accept change and accept the fact that the things we cling to are already decaying.
You should be interested due to the fact it is a way to enlighten your mind, a way to develop and keep growing as an individual. A way to become a better person.
You should be interested in groundlessness because your habits might not be you. They may be because of someone else and in that case you should try and let go of them to discover more.
We should be interested in groundlessness because by detaching from our worldly concerns or responsibilities, even those that give us feelings of security, we can see what comes to us in our state of emptiness without the influences of other things.
You should be interested in it because Pema Chodron mentioned it allows you to connect with the mind that knows no fear. Accepting that things are constantly changing and you shouldn't hold onto the concept of anything. This allows for no suffering and to really connect deeper with your mind.
The way that groundlessness can be applied is that it could be helpful when trying to learn something new and the topic is always changing so it would be not a good idea to cling to one.
This is something to take interest in because without this idea we can easily fall behind or become “vulnerable” to multiple things surrounding us like: ideas, definitions, topics, beliefs, etc.
If you’re not noticing and accepting groundlessness, you allow fear to get in the way of your being.
Groundlessness is interesting because it detaches one from everything and nothing at the same time. It is a state in which people can delve deeper into the connections that lie all around them.
Groundlessness is the opposite of being grounded, because if you find something to ground yourself with that "something" could change and throw you off your course again. So you can't root yourself in anything and be completely safe. Hence, accepting groundlessness.
It allows us to be open minded and let things go.
QUESTION 3: How should a person practice groundlessness?
Start by realizing that emptiness is a form. If you pull away from it and get rid of it, you are able to start the process.
We can practice this by letting thoughts go as they come in and releasing our preconceptions. Not just things that trouble or worry us, but also those that we typically love or enjoy.
How you should practice groundlessness is really hard for me to explain. I feel like learning the term and what it really means is a start; once your mind can wrap around the idea of groundlessness, your mindset may be able to slowly be altered to try and fulfill a kind of groundlessness, even if it isn’t all at once. Yeah.
We can practice groundlessness by understanding that there is nothing to hold onto, including the teaching that there is nothing to hold onto. We should also question and experiment with things our "teachers" tell us: we should accept nothing without thoughtful inquisition.
To practice groundlessness, I believe you have to remind yourself constantly about what you are doing and why you are doing it. Are you doing it because you are curious and are trying to learn from all different sources so you can gain your own thoughts or are you doing it because that is exactly what you were taught to do so it is comfortable?
Learn to question but actually listen and absorb.
I would say that groundlessness is a state, it simply is. I think that it is unwise to call it something to achieve. I think it would be possible to practice it by doing and not attaching yourself to the idea of it.
You can practice by challenging your thoughts and asking yourself “why” when you are doing things. Maybe the “why” is because that is what the teacher is asking us to do to complete the assignment. But that is all it is, it is not a fundamental, universal reason for doing it.
The way that you can apply this is to not accept things the way they are but make sure to keep an open mind.
Practice it by just accepting what is there and don't judge, perceive, or hold onto it. Just let it be, whatever happens, happens. Maybe just take everything that you believe and accept that it is not real or permanent. It is not going to be there forever.
Find comfort in things but don't get too comfortable so that when things change it won't be as detrimental or surprising.
How to practice this? Is never holding too hard onto anything. Understand that these should all be loosely understood in your mind. No matter how factual it may seem, you don't know if it will change one day. Holding on and believing everything you think is true will never change can be dangerous.
By not being attached to anything and keep learning more different perspectives and ways of thinking.