Once I took a class where we were instructed to close our eyes and focus.
“Now picture a beach…”
Beach? Wow. Like a South Carolina beach? Man, remember when there were black flies on the beach there? Remember how you always get sand in your contact lenses on beaches? Why do they always say beaches? I can’t relax on a beach!
“The waves are gently rolling toward the shore and the sun…”
And the sun always BURNS me. I have to hide under the beach towel with sand crawling up my swimsuit. Maybe they mean beaches like in Maine. Acadia National Park has those amazing beaches. Remember the whales? Remember the starfish? I should take the kids there. I should set a book there…
“Let yourself go—go with the waves. Float away toward the sunset. Do you feel it?”
Although the black fly beach would make a better setting—gotta make those characters miserable. It could be a first date on the beach. She has sand in her contacts, she’s trying to disguise her thighs, and she gets her period. Yep, definitely a perfect first date—from a writer’s perspective.
Then I tried meditation DVDs. They instructed me to stretch and sit on the floor cross-legged, while listening to a voice tell me how to breathe.
“Inhale through your nose, slowly-slowly, feel your lungs expand…”
This floor needs vacuumed. How long is this DVD? I need to vacuum, put dinner in the crockpot, shower, and finish my novel.
“Can you feel them press against your ribcage? Sit up straight, clear your mind…”
Don’t think about chores…I think I need more shampoo—stop! Clear your mind…this is when images of a book enter my brain. They’re very visual, like a movie scene and I’m the director—although the characters sometimes ignore me. Sometimes they audition. It’s a rainy night. The heroine storms away from the hero and climbs into a boat. He starts to follow but is interrupted by…
Shoot. I was supposed to be breathing…I need to work on that fourth Covenant Keeper novel again. I've got the whole thing in my head. I'm never going to be able to get it out until it's written down. Sometimes writing is like an exorcism! Delphine is on that boat headed for Ireland, and Augustus—gah, I crush on that quester. But no! I need to write that other book first! If I can finish that next month, then I'll have time to finish three books for next year!
“Roll your neck—slowly, slowly.”
Wait! Why can't I focus? What am I supposed to do? Breathe? No, roll my neck…I should bake some apples with dinner tonight. That sounds so good.
And that’s about as far as I get. Getting dinner into the crockpot and me into the shower win out because I can’t wait to get back to writing. It took me a long time to realize that my relaxation and meditation happen when I’m deep into my writing flow. Sometimes the things I write then are good, sometimes they require a whole lot of rewriting and edits. But I’m exactly where I want to be and doing exactly what I want to be doing.
If you’ve mastered the magic of meditation, feel free to defend it. Or do you have the same problem? Is anyone else plagued by metaphorical squirrels?