Thursday, August 6, 2020

Intro to Mindful Writing Workshop (Offered July/August 2020)

Description of Course:


This online course is geared toward individuals wanting to increase their enjoyment and satisfaction with writing in any genre (poetry, fiction, nonfiction). We discuss how to develop a calm, productive mindset and greater self-acceptance toward our writing through paying attention to the ever-changing present moment. We cover the main tenets of mindful writing, including noticing and making use of impermanence, accessing our monkey minds for new ideas, and reducing audience demons. This course is a combination of discussion and hands-on activity, and participants will be asked to prepare readings and complete activities to develop a regular mindful writing practice. This course is facilitated by New Hampshire State Poet Laureate, Alexandria Peary. Enrollment is limited to 10 participants who are New Hampshire residents.


Participants will:


-Learn strategies to more consistently focus on the present moment during writing.

-Practice methods to increase writing productivity.

-Change negative feelings about writing to positive ones of calm and self-acceptance.

-Develop a mindful writing discipline.

-Engage in a community of writers, sharing work and ideas.

- Gain basic skills to proceed, if desired, to upcoming master classes offered on mindful writing.


Meeting Details:


·      This online class meets for 75 minutes on Zoom, from 3-4:15 pm on Saturday, July 18; Saturday, July 25; and Saturday, August 1, 2020.

·      A Zoom link will be emailed to you the Friday before each class meeting.

·      A donation of $30 is recommended to the New Hampshire Food Bank or the Black Heritage Trail of New Hampshire.

Session 1: Settling into the Moment


We’ll cover the powerful benefits of paying attention to the present moment as we write and, conversely, the drawbacks of overlooking the present moment, since mindlessness is frequently the cause of writing blocks. We’ll discuss strategies to begin to establish a mindful writing practice and gain reliable access to the resources of the present.


Readings to prepare for July 18:


·      Ellen Langer, “The Roots of Mindlessness”

o   Explanation of 7 ways people don’t pay attention to the present moment

·      Bhante Henepola Gunaratana “Mindfulness (Sati)”

o   Describes the qualities of mindfulness

·      Peter Elbow, “Freewriting”

o   Explanation of one of the most important devices for noticing our internal talk or “monkey mind” (though Elbow uses different terms).


Session 2: Mitigating the Impact of Audience Demons


We’ll discuss how to mindfully manage the problems that come from considering certain kinds of audience. From a mindfulness perspective, audience is an illusion (an “audience demon”) created by our monkey minds.


Readings to prepare for July 25:


·      Alexandria Peary, TEDx talk: “How Mindfulness Can Transform the Way You Write”:

o   Talks about writer’s block and kicking out demon readers

·      Alexandria Peary, “Writing in the Company of Ghost Readers”

o   Talks about the impact of non-present readers in our heads as we write


Writing to prepare for July 25:

·      Desk Meditations

o   Yoga for Hands (mini version)

o   10 Mindful Breaths

o   Mindful freewriting


Session 3: The Stone Backpack of Perfectionism


Learn about the sources of our negative thinking concerning our own writing and how to mitigate doubt, worry, and other stressors through mindfulness practice. The goal is to increase equanimity as we write.


Readings to prepare for August 1:


·      Pema Chödrön, “Learning to Stay”

o   Talks about developing non-avoidance habits for difficult emotions

·      Pema Chödrön, “Relax as It Is”

o   Explains a method for developing equanimity


Writing to prepare for August 1:

·      Desk Meditations

o   Ghost Hunt

o   Go Disposable


Monday, August 3, 2020

Mindful Writing Webinar for Teachers this September

   Three Saturdays this September, I'll be offering mindful writing sessions online for the National Council of Teachers of English. The purpose is to help reduce stress in U.S. instructors' lives as they return to teaching in the face of COVID-19. Below is the description and registration information. Please relay the info to English teachers you know.

It can be hard to stay in the now these days. We long for a time not long ago when our colleagues’ faces weren’t covered by masks and for a future day when our classrooms return to normalcy. This series will help teachers find calm and balance in the present.

In each session, participants will be invited to do a guided meditation and then an activity that combines writing with mindfulness, including loving-kindness meditation, yoga for hands, bowing to difficulty, and moment writing. As part of these restorative writing experiences, we will discuss mindfulness strategies for detachment, compassion for self and other, and openness to possibility.

By writing in the moment, we can relax into the present and into ourselves.