Writing as Meditation and Pressure-Release Valve

One from the archives! It’s always fun to revisit old drafts and surprise myself with the weird stuff I wrote way back when. Some is just weird; some I still enjoy quite a bit! I like the blend of free-associative rhyme and musings on writing-as-meditative act here…

Should I disentangle the angle or embrace the entangled bangles, clang and mangle the fangs that rankle and rage and shake the shackles that crackle and enact a bashful pact to pack a basket of rapid or rash irrational apertures that capture apps and apples through camera slats and hapless jackals?

Sometimes I think of writing as a pressure valve or gauge or energy release, a sort of button I can press, a pillow I can punch or scream into or run circles around like a manic child, when I feel myself coursing with directionless energy or filled with a vague and mild yet festering sense of panic.

I pace and push pushups and spin around and dispense a kiss or shoulder rub, sit and stand and sit again, refill my water bottle, break off a square of chocolate, read an article or six; finally then I open a browser tab, head where I need to go, start placing words down in, as Annie Dillard says, a line.

Sometimes I feel like I’m thinking too slow; sometimes I feel like I’m thinking too quickly, or that my thoughts are just adrift, a jumble, strewn about one too far from the others, from the rest, reaching tentacles toward me and toward its siblings, hoping to bring the family back together, back home, make sense of it all. It works, and then it doesn’t.

I can’t always determine or describe or detail or derail or depict or disburse or dispense denouement or detente or direct or divide or derive or devise, but I can try. It’s always within my power to try.

I see that my above paragraphs sum to three hundred words, and I think of the movie of the same name, I think of the Beyoncé album-closer coursing through my closed-ear phones, I look at my water bottle and I ponder the direction of this sentence, hesitating and correcting typos, and wonder how my mind can be in so many places at once.

Or, no, that’s not entirely accurate — how it can be in so many places in such rapid succession, how it can make leaps through space and elide time and jump through wormholes at warp speed, performing perform impossible feats, entangling particles, when human teleportation is still a distant dream.

Do you like doodles of poodles? How about oodles of doodles of poodles? With the whole kit and caboodle, the mood’ll improve a little, ooze and elude the Rubik’s cube denuding rubes and prudes, the feudal feud’ll do the deed and move the luminous ludicrous carousing dudes, scoot the soot and foot by foot let loose the flue and deduce the prudent move, remove from view a few jejune jujubes.

Can the act of writing be also the process of meditation?

I think that it can be, that it clearly, obviously can be, so perhaps that is not the question.

The question is, how can it be, and why should that be attempted, what can we do to make it a successful attempt at restoring order and harmony of the mental kind?

I think that writing can be used in many ways; it greatly depends on the intent of the writer going into the writing session. Coming to it with a very concrete prompt or idea in mind, it can feel like work, albeit an easier and more productive variety than if one enters the fray empty and grasping; but going into the writing act with a conscious emptiness, a desire to fill it but in a natural and instinctual way, now that I think is where this may start to arrive at the border of the therapeutic.

This is mostly a private act, or rather a private process because it is not one act at all but a state of mind or being or consciousness; as with meditation, this sort of writing that I’m thinking of is a space you inhabit, an orientation of mind, a disengagement and also at the same time a reengagement, but an engagement not with any fixed or concrete specific thing — there is no “must” in this process, no “goal” to achieve — but rather with the right sort of frame; your goal is to turn yourself around, stop your body from spinning, face again that direction which makes you most comfortable, points you toward home. It’s about allowing distraction to recede, about calming down, letting your fingers dance a bit, an abstract modern dance punctuated by subtle gesture, a dance in a small corner of your writing space, your room, your home, your block, your world, one which goes unobserved.

The observation, that’s your job, to sit back and turn inward, mirror-ward, repose and align your eyes and typing and even your breath to the movement of your thoughts, to consider what you’re doing and what you’re writing about, but not too much, to filter but only a little, only enough to keep out the garbage, the noise, and leave room for the grace notes to filter through.

Can this act — yes, this process, this meditation — be effective as a public one as well? I intuit that it can, in certain situations, though I’m not quite sure what those might entail. I think it must not be performative, but communal and generative and collective, propelled not from one individual to the next, but by the group as a whole; I think it would work best as a practice amongst a small group of people already close, unafraid of one another.

That seems a low threshold, to be unafraid of someone, but it isn’t really. I’m afraid of everybody, at least some of the time. But that fear can be lifted, for moments or even majorities of one’s personal experience of time.