In March I spend a month in France on a writing retreat. Around the beginning of the month, Oprah and Deepak started one of their quarterly mediation series and I joined it. Every day after a morning of writing, a brief walk to town, and lunch, I closed the door to my restful white and tan bedroom, lay on the bed, and turned on the guided meditation. I loved it.
I’m a dedicated meditator, and the guided meditations were perfect for the situation — sharing a house with others coming and going, the distractions of a small French town in the south of France, my writing.
Flash forward to today. I’m back at home (though planning another trip to France in a month, this one a teaching trip), and in the interim this house has gotten more crowded, too. My daughter and her family moved in.
So, as you might guess, opportunities for quiet are rare. And I’ve not been meditating as often as before. But, my pals Deepak and Oprah started a new series a few days ago and I signed up for it, thinking another guided meditation would be the ticket.
And it is. Sort of.
Today I was preparing to meditate, listening to Deepak’s soothing voice repeat the mantra in his lovely accent, when I got interrupted. Pause the audio, listen to what my daughter needed, take the chance to go answer a couple emails, get back to the meditation. Feel guilty.
But then I realized — a little is better than nothing. Even if I only managed to repeat the mantra two times, that’s better than not trying. And I settled into the meditation and managed to finish it. In two parts, yes, but finish it I did. So, yeah, a little was better than nothing.
It’s easy to sneer at such sentiments — brings to mind such images as the old poster of the cat holding onto a bar with the words “Hang in there!” superimposed on it. Trite. Meaningless after awhile. But in this crazy fast-paced world that some days seems to be turning on its head, sometimes a little has to be enough. Every time you sit down to meditate — or go out to exercise, or eat veggies instead of French fries — you’re carving out an overall pattern that makes you, your body, and your soul happy.
The same is true in writing. You want to write that novel, but you just don’t have time for it. I hear you, buddy. Same story here. Yet my agent will be submitting my women’s fiction novel, with a second to offer when someone grabs the first, in September.
If I hadn’t embraced the a little is enough theory, I’d never have gotten them done. I try to maintain a good pace of writing, 1,000 to 2,000 words a day. And usually I hit about three days in a row before it all falls apart. (Mainly because my office is the favorite place of the two-year-old and the six-year-old who live with me. Pens! Paper! Sticky notes! Paper clips! A stapler! Index cards!) And so some days I get 50 words on the page. But slowly, bit by bit, the words and pages pile up.
Today on Oprah’s introduction to the meditation, she talked about how what you think about is what you attract. I know, I know, you’ve heard it before. And maybe you’ve sneered at it. But did you ever think that maybe the reason you’ve heard it so much is because it is true? Because it is. And so, hear me:
If you constantly think, oh, I can’t do this, I’ll never be a writer (or a meditator, or a runner, or a fill in the blank), then sure enough you won’t. And you’ll eventually just give up.
But if you celebrate every word you write, give yourself a high five for even the shortest of meditation sessions, eventually you’ll find the space and time for more. Quit being so damn hard on yourself and congratulate yourself for all the awesome things you are doing. Okay?
Charlotte Rains Dixon is the author of the novel Emma Jean’s Bad Behavior (Vagabondage Press, February 2013), and articles published in magazines such as Vogue Knitting, The Oregonian and Pology, to name only a few, and her short fiction has been published in Somerset Studios, The Trunk and the Santa Fe Writer’s Project. She earned her MFA in creative writing at Spalding University in 2003, and has been teaching and coaching writers ever since, both privately and as an adjunct professor at Middle Tennessee State University’s Write program. She’s been blogging about writing, creativity, and motivation at charlotterainsdixon.com since 2007. She is repped by Erin Niumata at FolioLiterary. Visit her website at charlotterainsdixon.com and her travel site at letsgowrite.com.