Every morning, I leave the comfort of bed, make a visit to the bathroom and then take a seat on a cushion. I set a timer for 15 minutes, offer a brief prayer, and try to sit still until the timer goes off.
I’ve been doing this since November 6th, 2012. On the advice of my mentor Jonathan Fields and my friend Kristoffer Carter, I took up meditation. I can’t point to any specific results of this practice. I can’t say I’m a better, more calm person. But I can say that I keep showing up for myself, and that feels good.
Meditation instructor Susan Piver helped guide my practice. She insists that sitting meditation isn’t about quieting the mind. It’s about being with ourselves, being with our mind as it is. With compassion and attention.
This no-judgement practice has allowed me to keep showing up. The only goal: sit down and show up. Even a year into it, I haven’t applied any specific goals other than that. I don’t demand quiet. I don’t deride myself for thinking about episodes of Breaking Bad. I just show up.
The best thing about this meditation practice is that it’s become a habit. A habit is something you do almost without choosing. You just do. The relief and pleasure I feel from this routine that starts my day is great. I don’t have to decide. I don’t have to worry about missing it or forgetting it. It’s as much a part of the day as visiting the bathroom – I just do it.
What does this have to do with the creative life? This is the kind of practice I want my students and clients to cultivate. I urge them to keep showing up, without judgement, without an agenda that chokes the vitality of the work.
I’m not concerned about a good meditation session or a bad one. It’s almost as if every session is the same. The only thing that counts is that I show up.
The same is true for writing or art making. Keep showing up. Let what happens in the session have its own vitality, its own say.
I kept showing up for my novel, draft after draft. It took 12 years, but finally all my efforts culminated in something worth publishing.
How do you keep showing up for your writing or art making? How often can you leave the judge behind to simply and humbly bear witness to your creative impulses? Share your experience in a comment below of the practices that guide your creative life.
Practice with us
Starting today, I’m leading a group of writers around the world in a daily practice. We write every day for 15 minutes, using a verbal and visual prompt. This online writing class, The Devoted Writer, is one of my favorite things to lead.
It’s not too late to join this writing class. Your new writing friends are waiting to welcome you to this practice of showing up for your words.