Saturday, May 28, 2005

Seasons of practice

In today's audioblog, I talk about the seasons of meditation practice. Just as Zen monks and nuns follow a seasonal cycle of intensive "tight Dharma" and more relaxed "loose Dharma," we as human creatures will have times when we won't be able to practice as much as we'd like. During "looser" times such as vacations, holidays, and periods spent with visiting friends and family, it's helpful to practice a shortened or minimalized version of our usual daily routine. If traveling monks and nuns can train themselves to meditate during those spare moments spent in planes, trains, and automobiles, surely we can practice our "time outs" on vacation, at family get-togethers, or at other schedule-challenging times.

(Speaking of vacations and holidays, my audioblogging will be light over the next week. I hope everyone has a restful Memorial Day weekend, and I'll check in when and as I can!)

this is an audio post - click to play

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Time out!

In today's audioblog, I talk about the art of the time-out: the practice of occasionally returning to the present moment in the midst of your daily life. My recording time ran out at the very end of this post, so please forgive the abrupt conclusion!

this is an audio post - click to play

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Just unplug it

Due to technical difficulties with Audioblogger, today's post will be of the old-fashioned written variety. And that's actually fitting for the topic I want to talk about today: unplugging.

First, let me assure you that I'm just as "wired" as the next person. I have wireless broadband Internet in my apartment and often travel with my laptop. I own a cellphone as well as a VoIP cordless landline phone. I have a stereo in my home office as well as a radio/CD player in both my kitchen and bedroom, and although my cable-free TV doesn't (inexplicably) get any channels other than E!, I keep somewhat up-to-date on movies and my favorite TV shows thanks to Netflix.

So, I'm not suggesting that you should get rid of your high tech devices, since then you'd not be able to read and listen to my blogposts! Instead, I'm suggesting that sometimes it can be incredibly fruitful to unplug.

One day last summer I drove to Boston where I spent a sunny afternoon strolling and enjoying the sights. As I walked across the Public Garden, I noted with bemusement that I was the only person walking alone. There were plenty of people who didn't have walking companions...but every lone walker I saw (with the exception of a few homeless folks who were talking to themselves) was either chatting on a cellphone or listening to a Walkman or Ipod.

In other words, everyone I saw walking in the Public Garden that day was "plugged in," focusing on the conversation of their companions, talking to a friend via cellphone, or drowning out the day with music. Although I'm as fond of music and conversation as anyone, it seemed sad to consider that no one was taking the time (significantly, everyone I observed was walking rapidly) simply to enjoy an unfiltered day in the park. Because of the virtual omnipresence of cell phones and personal musical devices, nobody was enjoying the simple silence of a summer's walk.

When I lived at the Cambridge Zen Center, there was one house rule that I appreciated above all others. Although the wake-up bell rang at 5 am and morning practice began soon thereafter, house rules stated that residents and guests should keep silence until 7 am. If you imagine the noise and hubbub that naturally occurs in a house with some 30 residents, you can appreciate how precious that morning silence was. Although I'm a talkative person, I don't necessarily feel at my chatty best upon first awakening. By making a shared agreement to keep silence until 7 am, residents worked together to create a space for practice (or for sleeping residents who didn't hear the wake-up bell!)

These days, I try to do three things upon awakening: I do 108 bows, I sit for fifteen minutes, and I write four pages in my journal. Although I do other things in between these three elements of my morning practice (feeding the dog, for example, between bows and sitting), I've discovered one simple trick that all but guarantees I'll do my full practice without getting distracted: I keep my laptop OFF the entire time.

If my laptop were on, it would be easy to check email first thing upon awakening...and once I sit down to check email, it's easy to surf a couple sites and in the process get irrevocably sucked into cyberspace. Over time, I've noticed that I'm lazy: if it's easy for me to check email, I'll do it, but if I have to fire up my laptop, I'm more likely to postpone my email in favor of doing the "unplugged" things that I really want to be doing. For the sake of my morning practice, I make a conscious choice to streamline my morning environment, turning off my laptop, stereo, and other potential distractions the night before.

So, what are your distractions? Nobody's suggesting you get rid of your TV, cellphone, or computer...but at what times in your day would you benefit from using the "off" switch? If you want to start spending your morning meditating, what devices create a sonic backdrop that makes it impossible to concentrate? If you want to write every evening after you've cleaned up from dinner, what electronic diversions distract you from your goal? Making a conscious choice to turn off your clock radio in the morning or refrain from watching one half-hour sit-com at night frees a small space where you can practice unfettered. It's not a matter of giving up all electronic enjoyments; it's a matter of occasionally unplugging them.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Practice as you can

In today's audiopost, I talk about practicing as you can. Instead of getting hung up on various tips and suggestions regarding how you "should" practice, over time you want to develop a spiritual or creative practice that works for you. Instead of worrying about how you practice (or how your practice compares to what other people are doing), you should devote your energy to doing what you can, not what you can't.

In today's post, I refer to Julia Cameron's excellent book The Artists' Way, which you can buy online here.

this is an audio post - click to play

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

The role of routine

In today's audio post, I talk about the role of routine in creative and spiritual practice. As you listen to me talk about the role of "good daily hygiene," you might ask yourself what you want or need to do every day to energize your spiritual and/or creative practice.

In my post, I mention my experience living at the Cambridge Zen Center, which offers a daily schedule of meditation practice just outside of Boston. Even if you don't live near a practice center or a vibrant creative community, you can establish your own "community of one" if you train yourself to make your spiritual and creative practice a part of your daily routine.

this is an audio post - click to play

Monday, May 16, 2005

Back to basics

In today's audioblog, I talk about the basics of my Creative Mindfulness practice: the three things I try to do every day to strengthen my spiritual and creative muscles.

Here are some web-links to accompany my audioblog:

this is an audio post - click to play

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Adventures in audioblogging!

Since Creative Mindfulness is an "experimental blog," one of the things I want to do here is try some new (to me!) technologies. Click below to hear me explain what I'd like to do with this blog and with audioblogging...and forgive the nervousness in my voice as I tried this new publishing medium.

this is an audio post - click to play

Pleased to meet you!

My name is Lorianne DiSabato, and I'm a writer, college instructor, and Zen teacher living in Keene, NH. For over a year, I've kept a weblog called Hoarded Ordinaries that chronicles in word and image my daily meanderings in and around New England; I also kept a teaching blog last fall while I experimented with using blogs in a "wired" writing classroom. Now I'm blogging my steps as I train to become a life coach specializing in creative and meditative pursuits. As a committed writer, digital photographer, and Zen practitioner, I look forward to using my unique background to help interested individuals make greater progress down the path to a creative and mindful life.

Thanks for stopping by to watch me embark on this next leg of my journey, and I hope you'll be motivated to travel the path along with me.