Wednesday, December 29, 2021

Mindful Writing Mantra and Essay [Excerpt]: Guest Post by Salem State University Student


Letting Go Releases Ego

Ashley Sliva

Ashley Sliva is a student in the Bertolon School of Business at Salem State University. 

Sit and imagine what it would feel like if everything you knew about yourself was false. Imagine yourself as a newborn, with no ability to judge yourself self and just be. No knowledge of what's “right” in this world nor otherwise. Take a few deep breathes and picture this. 

Maybe it's comforting or even a bit scary. Sometimes we must have a mindset of letting go of what we know to be true to free ourselves from our inner self-judgment and critic. This is something I must remind myself of during the writing process. I created the writing mantra “letting go releases ego” to help my writing.

...The main topic of my mantra is impermanence. The letting goes aspect of my mantra relates to the fact that everything is impermanent and ever-changing. Writing will never be stagnant, and changes will occur and are acceptable. 

Accepting the changes involved with writing is essential to the process. Letting go of the thought we need to be perfect on our first try will block ego from being set free. Allowing ourselves to write with no motive but words on the page helps release our inner judgment. 

Too much judgment of our own ideas and work causes stalling and makes it difficult to continue and produce ideas. Accepting change is needed will produce a non-egotistical mindset, therefore, releasing misguided opinions of ourselves and writing. 

Mantras are a good reminder that in writing and life we must accept and embrace the change around us. This is something I find overly important in my life. Remembering that nothing is ever stagnant will allow ideas to flow. We may feel writing is bad, but we must remember it can only get better from here. If we see our writing love it, we’ll eventually find something we don't like. Nothing will stay one way forever: so there's no reason to become stuck on one or the other. 

...Repeating words while focusing on our body will ground us to the moment at hand. Releasing our mind from interfering thoughts allows a deeper sense of concentration on the present moment and continuous changes occurring. When we focus on changes going on in our body or environment the mind clears itself.

Mindful writing mantras relate to mindlessness and writing problems since the goal of a mantra is to become more present, which in return benefits one’s writing. We are all mindless for a majority of our day, so a reminder to stay mindful is extremely beneficial. Mantras can act as these reminders and specifically help us with our writing. 

Writing problems can vary tremendously; similarly, mantras vary with different words and meanings. Common writing problems include fear of judgment, fear of getting a bad grade, anticipated criticism, impatience with the process, feeling alone, and feeling as if you must be perfect the first time around.  Someone who has a hard time with procrastination with writing can use a mantra reminding themselves they are a confident writer and they do possess wisdom. Because writing mantras vary, anyone can create their own to best help their anxieties and difficulties with writing.

My writing mantra “letting go releases ego” is helping me through this very project. 

I have to remind myself while I begin to write that there's no judgment. My thoughts are valid regardless of what my ego is telling me. I may like the writing I put out now or feel the need to add more later. Accepting this fact ignites my writing and more words to be produced. Letting go of any expectation or outcome produces an empty clear mindset for me. Allowing myself to not correct my word directly after it's on the page feels refreshing and freeing. I know I’m able to add more anytime I’d like. 

Being nonevaluative towards my writing allows me to write more than I would’ve ever thought I could before. I’m used to writing, then reading over my work and fixing what I don't like. 

My mantra is teaching me I can just continue. Accepting the uncertainty of my writing allows more ideas to come to me. Letting go of my personal judgment of myself lessons my ego until it is fully released. A released ego results in me writing without an outcome. I can write for my enjoyment and not a grade. I can already envision how my writing mantra will help me with anything I’ll need to write in the future.

In my past writing experiences, the starting point is almost dreadful. 

I think back to high school and freshman year of college where I had to write about topics I didn’t care about. The emphasis was always on structure, grammar and length. It was never about the enjoyment aspect of writing or even teaching us how to enjoy it. This learning situation only placed a perfectionist mindset inside of me with my writing because I was just looking for a good grade as my outcome. 

I was never passionate about the topics of my writing, so I almost didn’t care. If I reached the number of pages and covered the main topics, I hardly wanted to reread my work because I just wasn’t that confident yet would judge every sentence. 

I trusted auto correct to perfect my grammar and punctuation because that’s what I was told was most important. 

If I had the education on the writing process that I do now, it would’ve made the world of difference. It was always a rushed process to me, not a mind-clearing relaxing process. Meditating and writing at first glance don’t seem to be related, but they truly go hand and hand. Having a writing mantra to help me write continues to remind me not to allow myself to think negatively about writing but enjoy the process.

If someone reads my writing mantra, initially, they might have many questions. 

I put an emphasis on accepting change to release one’s ego, but why let go? There are so many good things in life we’d never want to let go of. The point of letting go is so we never clutch. That positive feeling we clutch will never stay that positive. There's no way for the feeling to go but the opposite. It makes more sense to embrace letting go of the negatives in our life because no one wants to hold on to that. But just like how nothing stays perfect, nothing stays bad. 

This is closely related to writing because we all have good writing sessions and also bad. Embracing the bad helps us in the future learn from it and appreciate the good days but never clutch. The goal is to release our egos. Our egos can be strong and overly judgmental of whatever we do. 

When we learn to release the self-judgement, we accept the truths and present moment. Our ego produces many anxieties that result in suffering. When we remember these anxieties of the past and future really don't exist, we can focus on what's important, the present. 

We must accept what happens around us involving writing and life. Releasing negative thoughts about ourselves and others and being grateful every day are small steps to getting away from our self-judgment. 

*Calligraphy by Thich Nhat Hanh


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