WRITING IS HELL

Hell2jpgLet me repeat that. Writing is hell. Of course, sometimes it’s joyful and wonderfully enlivening and all that, but there are times when it is just plain hell. Lately I have been struggling with the historical novel that I have been working on for the last couple of years.

My frustration with this enormous task has been building. Yesterday, I was ready to give up and stop. I was in such a dark place that the whole gargantuan enterprise and my entire life seemed a crazy waste. Such global negativity was a clear signal to me that I needed to Get Present. So I called a friend who knows the Compassionate Witness Process from the Creative Explosion workshop and I enlisted her help.

As I focused on my body sensations, I felt such anger and frustration arise that I wanted to trash my room and throw my computer out the window. After satisfying that fantasy, I started feeling deeply sad. It seemed that writing this book was like digging a tunnel with a teaspoon. The image was vivid. But, worse, in this moving picture in my mind, I was not attempting to get myself out of prison, I was stupidly digging my way into a jail cell. So when I completed the book, that’s where I would land—trapped in a jail cell with my unpublished, unread book. Horrible. Why would I want to do that to myself? What was the point? No one asked me to write the damn book. I don’t have to. I could stay out in the sunshine, relax on a bench, watch the world go by, and do nothing. Why would I want to engage in such a useless, Sisyphean task? How self-punishing!

That’s where the Getting Present Process ended. Of course, the purpose of being present is to be present. Many times enlightenment happens in the Process, but sometimes, for those of us so trained in childhood to suppress feelings, we need help just to feel. I know I do.

An hour later, I met via the phone with my wonderful writing support group who encouraged me to keep working on my book. When our meeting finished, I got up to make a cup of tea. Crossing the room, I was stopped by a kind of stunning thought: “What if you are digging this tunnel, not to put yourself in jail, but to rescue and release something or someone that you deeply love to get them out of jail?”

That was a much better version of my tunnel digging. More about love than ego. Trying to get something or someone out of jail. What?  I don’t know. Maybe I’ll find out when I get there.

My despair and frustration lifted. I know that this shift in context doesn’t mean writing this book won’t continue to be like digging a tunnel with a teaspoon, but now I feel as if I have a greater purpose to deal with the difficulty of it. Now that original picture of digging my way into a prison seemed wise and right—as if some higher part of me was trying to tell me something I had misinterpreted.

This blog deals with the Being Present Principle and using the Compassionate Witness process. 

THE WASHING MACHINE

washingmachineOne of the most fun things I do in life is help people get present.  I do it almost every day.  It’s surprising, inspiring, creative, and healing.  I’m eternally grateful and amazed by this simple process that was dropped in my lap by the Big Whatever.

A dear friend calls.  She’s really frightened—scared about money.  (I have observed in the past that fear is attracted to money like mosquitoes are attracted to blood.)  My friend goes on for a bit about her desperation and talks about some not so good solutions she is considering based on this fear.

After a moment, I ask her if she wants to “get present.”

“No,” she says, “I don’t have enough time.  It’s late.  I have to get to bed.”

Right.  NO ONE really wants to get present.  I understand that completely.  Who wants to feel deeply—to go into the body and discover what is really going on?  Getting present takes willingness and courage.

But, she’s done my Creative Explosion workshop, so after a bit, when I gently ask again if she wants to get present, she says, “Okay.  Let’s do it fast, though.”  I laugh to myself and ask the familiar, dreaded question.  “So what sensation are you experiencing in your body right now?”

“Fear.”

“Where?”

“All over.”

“Is there any predominant sensation?”

“In my heart.  I feel a lot of agitation in my heart chakra.”  (She does yoga.)

“What does it feel like?”

“It’s like a washing machine.  It’s agitating too fast.”

“What does the washing machine look like?”

“It’s not like mine.  It’s old fashioned.  Loads from the top.”

(Just like mine! I think but do not say.)  “Can you go to it and touch it?  Don’t do anything.  Just be with it.”

“Yeah.  I can feel it vibrating.  It’s going very fast.”

“Anything else about it?”

“Yeah.  The top is open and the water is filthy.”

“Okay.  Just be with it for a while.”  She’s silent for a spell then says.  “the water is all draining out.”

“Okay.  Just let it.”

Another pause.  “I feel much calmer.”

A moment.

“Oh, now I see myself standing on a crack in the earth.  There is a chasm below me.  On one side is negativity and fear.  On the other is all my spiritual work and trust.  They are moving apart and I’m doing the splits.  I have to choose which side to go to.”  It takes her a moment, surprisingly, but eventually she chooses trust.

She is present and calmer so I ask her to invite her Higher Power or Higher Self to be with her.  (This is an important part of Getting Present.  It’s not necessary to believe in God, and she says doesn’t.)  Her Higher Power turns out to be a guru who gently laughs at her fear.  He is full of good, calm, heart-centered advice.  In a very short time, she has moved from fear to peace and sees her life rationally and calmly.  She decides to continue with her creativity, do the work she has, and if it really becomes necessary, in the future she knows she can find a supplemental job.

That probably took no more than five or ten minutes.

I just love this Getting Present process.  I don’t have to advise anyone or listen to a long story or harangue.  People find their own peace and wisdom inside once they have moved into and through the uncomfortable sensations and feelings.  The images and what happens is usually surprising, healing, creative and entertaining.

I get present too with partners.  We generally laugh a lot.

What could be more fun than that?