The Pause in the Music: Writing and not Writing

Day 11: WordPress Writing 101, September 22 2015

Writing and not Writing:

Being active every day makes it easier to hear that inner voice“.

— Haruki Murakami, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running

‘As much as we love to write, it’s important to take breaks — to live your life and have new experiences, and to reflect and recharge so you can come back to your desk, ready to hit the keyboard again. Not writing allows you to gain the distance from your words, and thus perspective, which are both needed when it’s time to edit’. WP

The Pause in the Music:

The ceasura or the pause is an essential ingredient in great music. The silence enhances the note before and after. Taking this metaphor to the art of writing, a pause or a break in the writing regimen produces great writing!

The mind is a good tool for any purpose, albeit in some, especially artists, writers et al, it tends to take on an obsessive element. Concentration leads to focussed writing, but too much of this can make it a bit monotonous and repetitive. Hence if you want to come up with good ideas go for a walk in the midst of your writing when you get stuck. Literally. It adds to your literary value! Try it.

Sometimes it helps to do tasks unconnected with what you are writing, like some physical activity that does not require thinking or something else that is creative like music, painting or even cooking up a good dish which is my personal favourite. When the mind takes a break, it comes back to the task at hand, refreshed and rejuvenated. It is not that you lose the thread of your thoughts, for when the conscious mind is still, the unconscious has a chance to process information and ideas perhaps picked up subliminally. And herein lies one secret to good writing. PAUSE. Do something else. “Change of work is rest.”

If you want me to give an honest answer and not a goody-goody one like, “well, I do a workout”, as far as how I take breaks and recharge, well I do it by reading. I take up a juicy crime novel, a P.D. James or an evergreen P.G. Wodehouse and at the end of it, probably sometime the next day, something clicks at where I left off previously.

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Q is for Quest, Quality and Questioning norms !

Day SEVENTEENApril A-Z Blogging Challenge 2015  : Mental Health Awareness — layers and nuances

Also including this post in the WordPress writing challenge ignoring the prompt but going along with today’s twist: pay attention to your sentence lengths and use short, medium, and long sentences 

Writing 101: Day ELEVENLength Matters (in sentences)

  

Quest, Quality and Questioning norms:

In the busy world that we inhabit, the word ‘quest‘ has a quaint sound to it. It throws up images of knights on horses and maidens waiting in castles to be rescued from ferocious dragons by the said knights ! We do not have time for all this romantic stuff that was better suited for a more relaxed world. And yet, knights, dragons and damsels in distress are who we face everyday in life. Come again, you might say. Yes, even in this world of crazy routines and endless tasks, damsels in distress and dragons breathing fire do exist. Times have changed and it is we who need to be rescued from dragons, the mental dragons inhabiting the subconscious, subterraneous terrains of our mind. We are the ‘damsels in distress’ and we are the ‘Knights in shining armour’ too. 

So how does it all fit in ? To be truly healthy, to be physically as well as mentally fit, to live lives of quality and not merely of quantity (by the mindless accumulation of material wealth), the subconscious has to be faced, nurtured and healed. Mental illness in any of its several manifestations, mild or severe, is a ‘wake-up call’ to undertake this healing. It is the deep calling to the deep. Something within desires that the conscious mind undertake this task of healing for the greater good of the person. The knight in shining armour, full of purpose is our will and the damsel in distress is the inner creative being seeking release to fully and authentically express itself. When the two meet, the psyche celebrates at this restoration of health ! No one else can undertake this journey on our behalf. It is a deeply personal, private and intensely spiritual quest that ultimately leads to great inner fulfilment.

What of those who are not mentally ill? Are they not called to this journey? No easy answers, but perhaps the inner journey becomes possible when one yearns for something more meaningful in life. When one tires of this endless rigmarole termed ‘life’ and stops wearing masks and the constant indulgence in frenetic activity, life will respond with an opportunity to go deeper. Interestingly, when you start questioning hitherto accepted norms of society and life, when you are no longer willing to let life go by, things start moving, sometimes in unexpected ways. Sometimes this may very well happen through pain. Perhaps a wound to the psyche sets this off. Ultimately, it is all good.

© Lakshmi S. Menon & VOICE’nVIEWS

J is for JOURNEY and JOURNALLING

Day TENApril A-Z Blogging Challenge 2015  : Mental Health Awareness — layers and nuances

  

Journey and JOURNALLING :

Life is like a journey that we begin seemingly without consent, with no choice of locale or travelling companions. This is the external bit, where we are born into families we did not choose, grow in environments over which we have little control and finally as adults may be too tired to change things when we are able to. We might have fallen into a rut! But the inner process is slightly different. In the INNER JOURNEY, we do have choice — the choice to think and choose our attitude as Victor Frankyl said, and this might make all the difference in life.

 

Just as we make many preparations for an outer journey, carrying with us several knick-knacks that we may need, the same is applicable for the inner journey too. We need TOOLS that will provide direction and help us to measure progress. One such extremely useful tool that helps us to gauge our inner journey, without depending on outside help is to maintain a journal. Julia Cameron, the well-known author of two books on creativity and the creative process, titled, The Artist’s Way and The Vein of Gold emphasises the importance of JOURNALLING as a process of inner healing and creative recovery. In what she terms as ‘morning  pages’, she  advises aspiring artists to do some much needed spring-cleaning of their subconscious by a process of ‘stream-of-consciousness’ writing as one of the first tasks before the day really begins.

Try it! It worked for me 🙂

© Lakshmi S. Menon & VOICE’nVIEWS

A is for AWARENESS and AWAKENING

Day ONE: April  A-Z Blogging Challenge

The world has been pre-occupied with physical health from the beginning of civilisation and culture. Yet we take mental health for granted. While enormous time, money and energy are spent on perpetuating bodily health, beauty and youthfulness, scant regard is paid to mental and spiritual well-being. Perhaps we can blame  Rene Descartes, that 17th century philosopher who famously declared : cogito ergo sum I think therefore I am, for introducing in a big way, the mind-body dualism. Since then (putting it simplistically, though it contains a grain of truth) humanity has become firmly entrenched in the physical world and in the pursuit of material wealth, with an intelligent and rational mind being an ally and often the key to all success. In this outward, EXTERNAL seeking of well-being and wealth, the body assumed importance and the mind became a handy tool to achieve material goals. BUT in this process, something vital went missing.

While the mind, the conscious thinking and reasoning part of our being gained importance,  the  emotions, the soul, the heart, the intuition— these unseen aspects of our being were forced underground and were devalued and neglected. Being emotional became a sign of weakness; being imaginative was flirting with delusion and intuition had no voice in the onslaught of reason. These elements of consciousness that were not given their due receded to the background or even the underground; they became a part of our subconscious, unhappy wraiths of out true selves. But what goes underground does not disappear.  They started to subtly and surreptiously manifest as SYMPTOMS in the mind, as various kinds of mental disorders. They began to appear as addictions, as depression, as autism, as OCD, as ADHD, and numerous other illnesses with fancy names and fancier theories as to their cause and treatment.

Where do we begin to start redressing this problem that even today is not talked about much, except when a celebrity dies of it, (as the popular and successful Robin Williams was driven to take his own life), or some other fashion/film icon mentions it in public ( a la Deepika Padukone, the young Indian actress of mainstream cinema who spoke of it in the media recently) ? The problem is not just a medical one. It is a psychological, social and spiritual problem. It is symptomatic of the spiritual vacuum plaguing modern society.

So is there  hope for the silent (and not-so-silent) sufferers of mental disease whose numbers run into millions and are increasing day by day as the times we live in become more volatile, uncertain and subject to change?Hope lies in AWARENESS, both individual and collective. Hope stems from an AWAKENING of society to the acknowledgement and support for a malady that while affecting individuals, affects the collective health of our communities, nations and the world itself.

From tomorrow, I want to talk about the different ways mental illness can be dealt with both by oneself or for others, which finally paves the way to a deep and profound understanding of our inner personal selves. It also leads to the discovery of hidden gifts! Not all is as it looks like !

© Lakshmi S. Menon & VOICE’nVIEWS