The Power in Writing Your Obituary

December 8, 2017

 

While many of us spend December celebrating the holidays, this is also the perfect time for reflection—and for death and rebirth. Writing as a path to awakening is an invitation and celebration—it’s your ticket back to your creative brilliance.

 

Life is short. Time is fleeting and invented—it’s only really ever now. Love is showing up fully with presence—open-hearted, raw, and vulnerable to the world; it’s the only thing that matters. And it’s with this that I invite you to write your own obituary.

 

Reflecting on our own mortality is an opportunity to assess what is truly important in our lives. To reflect on our own mortality is to enter into the community of humanity via the ultimate vulnerability around ceasing to exist. When we approach this with an open heart of curiosity, we have a chance at greater compassion, patience, and understanding with the realization that we are all in this together.

 

Every one of us goes through this fact of our temporary nature in physical form; there is no getting out of this world alive. And here we have a choice—we can put off that reality, ignore it, get completely freaked out about it, or we can face that fact with courage and curiosity.

 

It’s so easy to get caught up in the mundane details and challenges of daily life to the extent that we can forget what we are really living for—what our core purpose in this lifetime truly is! The results of such an investigation are a more awakened sense of self, a deepening compassion for yourself and others—not only those intimate in your life—but for humanity as a whole.

 

Begin by writing it as a list or try writing it as a poem. Tune into any fears or resistances that arise. You could try modeling your piece on a traditional obituary you might read in your favorite newspaper or online magazine. Freewrite into these questions and see what arises.

 

  1. How do you want to be remembered?
  2. What are the true highlights of your life?
  3. Who were the people who most inspired or influenced you?
  4. What did you learn being embodied in this life that you want to share with others?
  5. What held the most meaning for you in your days on this earth?

 

Looking for more great reads?

 

Adapted excerpt from Writing As a Path to Awakening by Albert Flynn DeSilver.

A highly regarded and sought-after speaker and workshop leader, Albert Flynn DeSilver has taught and presented with several luminaries, including Elizabeth Gilbert, Cheryl Strayed, Maxine Hong Kingston, Michael McClure, and U.S. Poet Laureate Kay Ryan among many others. In addition, Albert is an internationally published poet, memoirist, and novelist. His writing has appeared in over 100 literary journals worldwide. He has published several books of poetry and the memoir, Beamish Boy. Albert teaches at the Omega Institute, Esalen, Spirit Rock, and writing conferences nationally. He lives in Northern California.

 

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4 Ways to Cultivate Creativity This Holiday Season

4 ways to cultivate creativity this holiday season

In the craziness of the holiday season, it can be challenging to cultivate personal creativity—but when we think of creativity in terms of a gift, our hearts open to great and beautiful possibilities. Here are four ways you can cultivate creativity this holiday season. 

Write a series of haiku you can print on paper, ceramics, cloth or food

Spend some time reading and reminding yourself of the art of haiku. Practice writing a few of your own on paper first. Make it a ritual; bring presence and mindfulness and reflect on the immediacy of your experience here and now—and maybe touch of some sentiments around the holidays.

Transfer your haiku to a holiday ornament you can hang from a tree or. . .

Have fun with this practice! Invite your friends and family members to engage in this practice and have fun exploring different ways you can share your haiku on an ornament.

Write a haiku you can eat

Haiku holiday cookies anyone? Use icing as your ink. Explore different ways you might “write” your haiku using food.

Haiku writing with objects and documented in photographs

You can create your haiku with sticks, string, stones, sand, any material you want, and then document your poem by photographing it. Your last step is to create it so that you can give it away as a gift!

Happy holidays! 

Albert Flynn DeSilver is an internationally published poet, memoirist, novelist, speaker, and workshop leader. He served as Marin County’s first Poet Laureate from 2008–2010, and his work has appeared in more than 100 literary journals worldwide, including ZYZZYVA, New American Writing, and Exquisite Corpse. Albert is the author of Writing as a Path to AwakeningBeamish Boy: A Memoir, Letters to Early Street, and Walking Tooth & Cloud. He has taught workshops at The Esalen Institute, The Omega Institute, Spirit Rock Meditation Center, and literary conferences nationally. visit albertflynndesilver.com.

A Meditation + Writing Exercise to Conquer Your Fear

A meditation + writing exercise to conquer your fear, banner

To prepare for the dog days of summer, we move from amusement to audacity. Being a dog owner and lover, I particularly enjoy the expression “dog days.” I always picture a pile of lazy dogs panting away in the shade of a chestnut tree, waiting out the heat of the day to go for an evening walk. Venturing into the heat of creative and spiritual practice takes courage; it is an audacious undertaking.

This July, I invite you to take on a “BHAG”—a Big, Hairy, Audacious Goal. Write forth your truth and wake up to expanded awareness in the process. Whether that means starting a journal or writing a poem, novel, memoir, or letter to your grandmother, audacity will drive you forward. I want you to commit here and now to do your best in any given moment. Move forward with your best intentions of creativity and spiritual awakening at heart. This combined meditation and writing practice will help you get there.

A Meditation on Audacity

Let’s begin with where we are—in a grounded and courageous place, fully embodied. Find your comfortable place to sit. Rest your hands easily in your lap and your feet flat on the ground or cushion. Gently close your eyes. Take a few breaths inward and release. Find that natural rhythm of your breathing, connecting with your breathing body. Tune into your immediate sensory experience, just noticing what your experience is right in this moment. Let your breath be your anchor and ground.

See if you can bring to mind a particularly scary or vulnerable situation. Think of one in which you recently felt exposed, sensitive, even fearful; not one in which you were in a dangerous situation, but a memory of you putting yourself out there in some way—confronting someone, speaking to a group, asking someone new out on a date. As memories of the situation come to you, breathe deeply into your belly and know that you are safe now, breathing here in this moment in this body. If you need to, you can open your eyes, but try to remain grounded in your breathing body. Notice the rush of sensations and allow whatever arises to arise with love, patience, and compassion. Be gentle with yourself and remember that you are safe. See if you can stay with the feelings and simply explore how your fear or discomfort exists as a bodily sensation.

Notice where in your body you feel them. Breathe nurturing air into those places. Allow yourself to become familiar with the sensations of fear and vulnerability without the need to disconnect, distract, or avoid altogether. Be patient and kind with yourself as the emotions and feelings stream through. Gently note any physical changes: increased body heat, increased heart rate, tingling in your arms, increased sweating, and so on. Notice how the sensations linger, change, and dissipate. Become curious and open while kindly grounding yourself in the breath.

Put both hands on your heart, left on top of right, and take a deep breath. Say to yourself, “May I be well, may I be at peace, may I be bathed in the light of lovingkindness and compassion right now.” Take another deep breath, exhale, and release your hands. Bring them back together, palm to palm, at your heart and bow to yourself in gratitude for your courage and love. Open your eyes to complete the meditation.

You might try this meditation for five minutes at first and then extend it as you feel more audacious and courageous. The more you allow the feelings to arise and exist, the more familiar you will become with them. In turn, you will be better able to let them go and dissipate and see them for what they are—waves of energy and information arising and passing away.

Now for the writing . . . Write down three things you can do in the next month that scare you. They don’t have to be drastic acts such as speaking in front of 400 people. How about just sitting down to write that first scene of your novel? Typing up your first few poems? That can be scary enough. And these frightening endeavors don’t have to be related to writing. Maybe it’s a little terrifying to sit in meditation with your eyes closed for more than five minutes. Check in with yourself and see what’s a little scary for you—where can you push yourself a little further? Book a trip overseas, sign up for a rock-climbing adventure, agree to read at your local open mic. Keep in mind that you don’t have to actually do these things right now. Simply start by writing them down and sitting in their presence for a bit. Then you can take action to feel your fear and do it anyway!

This excerpt has been shortened and adapted from Writing as a Path to Awakening: A Year to Becoming an Excellent Writer and Living an Awakened Life.

A Meditation + Writing Exercise to Conquer Your Fear, Albert Flynn DeSilver

 

 

ALBERT FLYNN DESILVER is an internationally published poet, memoirist, novelist, speaker, and workshop leader. He has published several books of poetry, Beamish Boy, and his newest book, Writing as a Path to Awakening. He teaches at the Omega Institute, Esalen, Spirit Rock, and writing conferences nationally. He lives in Northern California. For more, visit albertflynndesilver.com.

 

 

 

A Meditation + Writing Exercise to Conquer Your Fear, Writing as a Path to Awakening, Albert Flynn DeSilver

 

 

Buy your copy of Writing as a Path to Awakening: A Year to Becoming an Excellent Writer and Living an Awakened Life at your favorite bookseller!

Sounds True | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound

 

 

 

 

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A Guided Standing Meditation to Activate Your Creative...

 

Albert Flynn Desilver - A Guided Standing Meditation to Activate Your Creative Imagination Blog Banner

Springtime in the heart of May is a time of renewal and discovery, a time of reminding, reconnecting, and remembering our true imaginative potential. Mother may I? Yes, you May. Express your full imaginative self, just as the flowers, fourth graders, and fully feathered birds do.

You are your imagination. It’s not something outside of you that you read in the pages of some book, or something you overhear in the next booth over at Bubba’s Drive-In, or even the memory of your adventures trekking across Nepal (although these are all terrific things to write about). It’s found within you — your imaginative heart and soul, looking like a nebula of stars throbbing in your bloodstream a thousand times a second, at this very moment. Here’s a way to practice conjuring up (imagining) and letting go: the standing “skeleton scan” meditation.

Skeleton Scan Meditation

  • Find a quiet place in your house with a soft and comfortable surface to stand on. Close your eyes and take a deep breath inward.
  • Ground yourself in this moment, in your body. After the first deep breath, let your breathing become natural.
  • Now lightly bring a thread of your awareness to your feet and breathe into your feet. Feel the stability and grounding of your breath at your feet. Now, with your mind’s eye, see the little toe bones of your feet, then follow your imagining to the main parts of your feet and to where they meet your ankle bones.
  • Continue up your legs to view the bones joining to your knees then up to your hip bones.
  • See your hip bones where they connect to your sacrum and your spine. Now visualize your vertebrae climbing and then branching out into your rib cage. See the ribs of your body wrapping around you and joining at your sternum, protecting your heart.
  • Notice now the bones of your shoulders holding your arms, and see those bones of your upper arms, into your elbows, and down to your hands and finger bones.
  • Now bring your visualization back up your arms, past your elbows, back up to your shoulders, and see now your neck and where your spine connects to your skull.
  • See your skull, the round smoothness of the bone with hollow sockets for your eyes and nose, and see the bones of your jaw and teeth.
  • Breathe into this visualized experience of your skeleton. Breathe in and feel your body
    swaying gently, knowing right now that this skeleton is your stability and ground—these mineral bones are your conduit to earth and sky.
  • Take a deep breath inward, exhale, and open your eyes.

 

ALBERT FLYNN DESILVER is an internationally published poet, memoirist, novelist, speaker, and workshop leader. He has published several books of poetry, his memoir Beamish Boy (Owl Press, 2012), and his new book Writing as a Path to Awakening (Sounds True, 2017). He teaches at the Omega Institute, Esalen, Spirit Rock, and writing conferences nationally. He lives in Northern California. For more, visit albertflynndesilver.com.

Buy your copy of Writing as a Path to Awakening: A Year to Becoming an Excellent Writer and Living an Awakened Life at Sounds True or your favorite bookseller. 

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