Into the Woods – Happy Anniversary!

A year ago today, the charity anthology Into the Woods was published. It was my great pleasure to edit and contribute a story to this collection of short stories, essays, a walking meditation, and original music from writers who attend the Mindful Writers Retreat each fall and spring. My header photo is from the retreat center in Ligonier, Pennsylvania.

There are many reasons to write stories and create art. The purpose of this collection was to raise money for the Children’s Heart Foundation. In addition to contributing to a good cause, the Mindful Writers tightened the bond we’d formed while spending a week surrounded by woods and positive energy. A sunrise walk, a bagpipe concert, a group meditation, evenings by the fire–these are the fun parts of a working retreat, but work is the goal. For days in a row, twenty+ writers sat in silence in the great room of the lodge, typing away, lost in our own fictional worlds. Outside were natural wonders, in the kitchen were coffee and treats, but we all managed to stay in our heads when seated in a writing chair.

The anthology is the result of that experience: work plus contemplation plus peace. I am proud of this collection and to be part of such a special group. Love you, Mindful Writers!

Mindfulness & a Signing

Into the woods front coverOn Saturday, I’ll have the pleasure of participating in the Hockessin Book Shelf’s Local Author Showcase. I will be signing copies of Into The Woods, the charity anthology compiled by the Mindful Writers Retreat Authors.

I’ll also be happy to chat about mindfulness and how it has benefited me as a writer and as a human being.

What is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness is the practice of living with awareness. Mindful living means that, rather than channel surfing through your day, you live each day with purpose, even the mundane of days of work or rote activities. Mindfulness means you pay attention to the world around you, whether it’s your home office or a place you have never seen before. Mindfulness means raising your head and looking around at the world and all of its colors, smells, sounds, and sensations as you journey through it.

From a physical perspective, mindfulness encourages familiarity with your body and acceptance of its quirks and wonders. A mindful person learns to breathe one breath at a time and to recognize that each new breath brings fresh energy to the body. A person breathes 12 to 16 times per minute. Shouldn’t you pay attention to something you do so often?

Mindfulness might mean learning the practice and benefits of meditation. There is nothing tricky or hard about meditating. One way to meditate is to listen to a guide’s voice as it takes you on an imaginary journey through a wood or along the ocean, or through the energy points of your own body. Another way to meditate is to sit, be still, and notice the silence around you and in your mind. Silence allows your mind to empty so it can become free and calm. A free mind is open to self-exploration and new external ideas. A calm mind makes it easier to find focus.

Mindfulness might mean learning a mantra—a comforting word or phrase—to repeat over and over during a meditation session or during times of stress. The repetition of a comforting phrase helps re-focus your energies to where they can be relaxing, rewarding, or healing.

How does Mindfulness help writers?

A calm and free mind is open to creativity. A routine of meditating for a few minutes followed by a writing session allows you to write when you are relaxed in body and focused in mind. A daily habit of meditation followed by writing means you will be more productive.

Each fresh breath you take with mindful intent brings new energy to your mind, your body, and your writing. Fresh energy brings clarity that you can apply to investigating new story ideas or tinkering with current ones.

Questions? Stop in at the Hockessin Book Shelf and let’s chat!

Hockessin Author Signing