So I learned this visualization in yoga a few months ago.
When doing any kind of meditation – and in case you don’t get bendy, yoga is simply a form of moving meditation – we work towards a state called “mindfulness.” Mindfulness is perhaps more popularly known as “being in the moment” – and in order to be fully in the moment, fully present, fully mindful, we must release all thoughts about our past and future.
Yet it’s important to remember that “being in the moment” is a verb, not a noun. Mindfulness is not an achievement, but a process. A conscious and continuous process of letting go of past/future thoughts, whether those thoughts are plans, memories, daydreams, worries. All these we must let go of in order to truly be in the moment, to glimpse mindfulness however briefly.
I used to get very aggressive with myself about it (PSA: kinda counterproductive for meditating). I would think, STAY IN THE MOMENT, STAY IN THE MOMENT, STOP THINKING ABOUT THAT, NOW STOP THINKING ABOUT THAT, YOU’RE SUPPOSED TO BE CONCENTRATING, MAKE YOUR MIND GO BLANK, WHY CAN’T YOU DO THIS, HOW ARE YOU ARE A FAILURE AT YOGA NOBODY FAILS YOGA
Well, turns out it’s very difficult to aggressively let something go.
When I finally figured that out, I knew I needed a gentler way to dismiss my past/future thoughts, and this was the visualization that helped me:
Imagine every thought that crops up – I have the dentist on Friday, how am I going to solve this work problem, remember that time when I was mortified, I wonder if it’s too late for me to be a teen model – each of these thoughts is actually a large soap bubble. Slowly, slowly these bubbles rise into the air, but they can be easily popped by the touch of a feather. The feather is your conscious mind – light and unattached – instantly dissolving the thought and scattering it to the winds.
Do we have any milk at home?
Will I still be doing yoga at 50?
I wonder what happens on Penny Dreadful this season?
Seeing it helps.
Now I’ve noticed while writing THE NOVEL that I need to do this same work – this process – in letting go of ideas. I mean, I have hundreds of ideas a day (who doesn’t?). Every sentence is an idea. Every variation on every sentence is an idea. Every description and action and line of dialogue are ideas. And too often I’ll find myself stuck on one, trying to work around it, trying to massage it, trying to get it to feel organic. I spend an inordinate of time doing this. A lot. Way more than is actually productive.
So I think I need to conceive of these ideas more as soap bubbles – knowing there will be hundreds of others floating up, unceasingly, there always are – and popping the ones that aren’t serving me, rather than trying to force them to serve me. (Ah, there’s that aggression again.)
Good talk, Dear Nonexistent Reader. Good talk.