The Drop-In Technique

A stack of rocks in a cairn

About the Drop-In Technique: A Guided Meditation To Access Your Life Experience 

For years of teaching memoir classes, we needed a way for writers to bring their true life experiences to the page as if the reader was a fly on the wall—in the moment with them. Yet, at the same time, if it was a difficult life experience, we wanted the writer to access memories without feeling overwhelmed.
We tried many techniques and finally found success with a guided meditation that helps the writer visualize their life as a timeline they can drop into at any moment, yet feel a sense of protection from the raw emotions the writer may have experienced during the time they first lived through the experience.

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It’s been a powerful tool I have used for years. Usually, I read the meditation out loud and then allow for time for free writing in class. No tool has been met with more excitement and success and many had asked if I would record it. However, making a recording never felt right until I met Kimberly. She is a writer, healer, and yoga instructor and has a natural gift when it comes to guided meditations. Kimberly took the drop-in technique, added in music and made it her own. Please give yourself the gift of taking some time out to drop into a guided meditation. I would love to hear your thoughts about your experience. Enjoy!

Drop-In Technique for Memoir Writers

Warmly,

Marni

A photo of Kimberly Joy

Kimberly Joy writes to share messages that uplift and inspire. Her pieces encourage and provide new ways of perceiving the world and life’s experiences. Her background as a Physical Therapist, Restorative Yoga Teacher, and Guided Meditation Specialist gives her a deep understanding of the mind-body connection. She loves to share this wisdom in hopes of assisting others on their journeys of health, healing, and inner peace. You can find more of her writing at MessagesfromJoy.org

Music Credit: Christopher Lloyd Clarke

Photo Credit: Kimberly Joy and Bekir Dönmez on Unsplash

Bubbling Up

bubbles with grass in backgroundSometimes we don’t know what to write even though we’ve made a commitment to write every day. What then?

 There are many writing prompt books, such as Judy Reeves’, A Writer’s Book of Days. These are helpful to get started, but if you can’t get your hands on one of these, don’t fret. There is a meditation trick you can try. By employing this trick, you will meet both your commitment to meditate and your commitment to write. Win win.

 Often on a meditation retreat, the facilitator will start by asking the group to do a short exercise to find our intention for the retreat. As we begin, the facilitator will guide us to the calm within. Then, without “thinking” about it, we are invited to allow our intention for the retreat to bubble up from within.  Like a cat watching a mouse hole, we watch and see what word or phrase spontaneously reveals itself from the unconscious. This word is the prime that we will work with, that we will refine, that we will spend the rest of the retreat investigating.

At my latest retreat, I heard the word “acceptance” come up. I took the word to my room and began writing about it. As I wrote, I discovered that the word “acceptance” carried some baggage with it.  It felt depressing to just “accept” life as it was. There was no juice in it. My pen kept moving, and I found myself writing that I was interested in something much broader than acceptance.  I didn’t want to accept life as it was, I wanted to “fall in love” with it, exactly as it was—messy chaos and all.  In a blink, I wrote my true intention and saw it also as the title of my next book: “Enlivenment: The Art of Living Imperfectly but with Great Delight.” I spent the rest of the retreat examining the concept of delight.

 And this, this is what a great writing prompt will do for you. It will free your mind and allow you to get to the heart of the matter.

 Below is a short guided audio clip you can listen to, to allow your own writing prompt to bubble up from within. Have a journal, pen, and timer handy. Allow for five minutes of sitting and five minutes of stream of consciousness writing.  What wants to be told? What themes are inviting your attention today? How might these themes inform whatever project you are working on?

 

Written guidelines:

  • Set a timer for five minutes. Have your pen and journal handy. Start by closing your eyes and taking a couple of long slow breaths through your nose to center yourself.
  • After a few breaths, start to count your breaths on the exhale deliberately until you get to ten. If you notice that you’ve gone off on a train of thought, gently bring your attention back to the breath and continue.
  • Once you’ve reached ten, let the focus on the breath go and bring your attention to your bodily sensations. Notice the feeling of the ground or chair beneath you; notice any discomfort anywhere.  Pay close attention to what it feels like: prickling, heavy, tight, etc.  Scan your body for tension.  Are your shoulders hunched?  Is your jaw tight? Gently relax any physical tensions and repeat silently to yourself, “I release any tension, any pressure, any thoughts, any desires.” Bring your attention back to the breath.
  • Now, allow a word or phrase—any word or phrase—to bubble up without effort.  Simply take notice of the first word or phrase that pops up, and then bring your attention back to your breath.  (Don’t pay attention to the voices saying that you need to find the “right” word or that you need to think of something related to what you’re already working on. If nothing bubbles up, use “nothingness” as your prompt.)
  • When the timer goes off, bring your hands into prayer position and bow, honoring yourself for keeping this commitment.
  • Jot down your word or phrase. Set a timer for five minutes and write down your stream of consciousness until the timer goes off.

Photo credit: https://unsplash.com/search/bubbles?photo=8CCQ-55MTUw

 

Want to be a Feisty Writer? Sit Down and Shut Up.

man scolding happy dogMeditate that is.

But that’s just sitting still, inner peace, no thoughts, and silence, right?  What’s feisty about that?

It takes true courage—that’s what. Meditation puts us in direct contact with the self-critical voices in our head. You know, the voice that says, “I can’t write!”, “I have nothing to say.” Or maybe the voice that says, “You can’t write that!” The voice that pulls us back from the hard truth, from the gory (or glorious) details. Meditation helps us to see these conditioned, self-critical voices for what they are and to disidentify from them. Through meditation, we learn to turn our attention away from those voices and listen instead to our authentic voice. This is the magic of meditation and a great benefit for writers.

I call it, “how to become a feisty writer,” but scientists these days call it rewiring the brain and mindset. Did you know that meditation has been proven to significantly alter the regions of the brain associated with stress, overall well-being, and fluid intelligence?

For my part, I’ve discovered that meditation and writing, in particular, are fundamentally complementary. Meditation works by employing a writer’s best friend: the power of paying attention.

We sit in meditation and learn to notice everything as an observer—a witness: bodily sensations, sounds, smells, tastes, visual phenomenon, emotions, and thoughts. This is particularly true if we are suffering. Instead of being consumed with our emotions, we act as a journalist, taking detailed notes to describe this phenomenon accurately, freshly, without cliché—outside the realm of our conditioning. As meditators, we pay attention to see how we cause ourselves to suffer so we can drop that. As a writer, we pay attention so that these details can become rich fodder which we can later employ to make our writing honest, rich, and vivid.

Sure, developing a meditation practice requires commitment. But commitment is something we writers need. Bottom line, to enliven the feisty writer within we have to commit to a practice of writing. And, to be free from the self-critical voices that keep us from writing, it helps to meditate.

You game?

To start:

  • Make a commitment to meditate five minutes per day for two weeks. Then just show up. That’s all.  I call it, “making it to the cushion.”
  • Arrange for an undistracted time and quiet place; find a comfortable position.
  • Below is an audio recording of a short guided meditation to use if you choose.  (Note: you can email this audio recording to yourself and listen from your smartphone if you prefer.)
  • Alternatively, read the guidelines below and guide yourself.  If you do it yourself, SET A TIMER. (This is critical for it keeps the mind from incessantly worrying about “how long has it been?”)
    • Start by closing your eyes and taking a couple of long slow breaths through your nose to center yourself.
    • Then, still breathing through your nose, start to count your breaths deliberately until you get to ten. If you notice that you have gone off on a train of thought, don’t worry, everyone does! Just bring your attention back to the breath and continue. Breathe in deeply, silently count “one” on the exhale. Breathe in again, silently count “two” on the exhale, and so on.
    • Once you’ve reached ten, bring your attention from your breath to your bodily sensations. Notice the feeling of the ground or chair beneath you; notice any discomfort anywhere.  Pay close attention to what it feels like:  prickling, heavy, tight, etc.  Scan your body for tension.  Are your shoulders hunched?  Is your jaw tight? Gently relax any physical tensions and repeat silently to yourself, “I release any tension, any pressure, any thoughts, any desires.”
    • When the timer goes off, bring your hands into prayer position and bow, honoring yourself for keeping this commitment.

Being a feisty writer takes courage and commitment. By doing this simple exercise, you acknowledge your intention. Critical voices berating you? Bring on the meditation!

Photo credit: nos.twnsnd.co/post/151194502526/a-man-and-his-dog