MARIELENA ZUNIGA: WRITING AS A SPIRITUAL PRACTICE
What writing practice, like Zen practice does, is bring you back to the natural state of mind … the mind is raw, full of energy, alive and hungry. It does not think in the way we were brought up to think — well-mannered, congenial. Natalie Goldberg
The mind is a strange thing. It takes us into the future worrying about what’s to come, and into the past, regretting what was. Rarely are we able to stay in the present. And the present moment — the now — and being in it, is the essence of spirituality according to most great spiritual teachers.
I admit. I am often not in the present. But I find when I sit down to write — even this blog entry — my mind is focused here and now. Being in the “now” allows me to connect with my creativity. And when I’m in touch with the Creative, I’m in touch with my spirituality.
A sidebar here: Please don’t confuse “spirituality” with religion or dogma. I’m referring to “spirituality” in the broadest sense, that unnamed part of ourselves that seeks meaning and connects to creation in mysterious, boundless ways. You may find it walking in the woods, riding a horse or laughing with a child. Writers find it in words, fleshing out phrases, playing with plot or struggling over structure. When we are truly attentive to the process, we are in the “now.”
I’m not the first, not will I be the last, to view writing as a spritual practice. But we can always find it helpful — and even healing — to remind ourselves to “let go,” another spiritual discipline. When we empty our mind, as in Zen practice, and turn our attention inward, we allow whatever is there to arise.
When we forget ourselves, we write without hindrance. We become spiritual explorers, tapping into dreams, memories and universal wisdom. Our words take on the unexpected, a paragraph that is delightful and delicious, a completed chapter that brings us to center. Like any spiritual practice, we’re bound to hit roadblocks. But any teacher worth her or his salt would advise making any struggles part of the process.
The second book I’m writing has a strong dose of magical realism and the spiritual. When I devote myself to it, I’m amazed at how I lose sense of time. I find, as Goldberg says, my mind is “raw, full of energy, alive and hungry.”
So take a deep breath. Maybe a few. And empty yourself. Your spiritual practice of writing is calling you. You may be surprised at what unfolds.