Mannequin Monday – The Spirit Pauses

This week we dress the mannequin, the bare page, with words of peace, of mindfulness. Words of comfort in a time of stress. A moment for our collective spirits to pause.

This Week’s Reading

I discovered the (very) short stories of Lydia Davis this week on conjunctions.com. Quite enjoyable. Here is one titled Fear:

Fear

headshot of author Lydia Davis
Lydia Davis, NPR

Nearly every morning, a certain woman in our community comes running out of her house with her face white and her overcoat flapping wildly. She cries out, “Emergency, emergency,” and one of us runs to her and holds her until her fears are calmed. We know she is making it up; nothing has really happened to her. But we understand, because there is hardly one of us who has not been moved at some time to do just what she has done, and every time, it has taken all our strength, and even the strength of our friends and families too, to quiet us.

See conjunctions.com for more of Davis’s stories, and other intelligent fiction. Thanks to conjunctions.com for posting the story.

Discussion

In the story Fear, a woman runs from her home screaming “emergency.” An event that happens regularly. The kindness of her neighbors comforts her. I like, too, that the neighbors don’t attempt to talk her out of her feelings. They simply comfort her. Acknowledge her feelings.

The storyteller states: Don’t we all feel the same at times? On any given day, any one of us is poised to run screaming down the street. Running and screaming “emergency.” Isolation. Fear. Anxiety. Mental health issues. Constricting boundaries.

And the storyteller reminds us that we have the ability within ourselves to calm the feeling of madness. Or we have people close to us who will hold us, calm us, comfort us. Davis’s story, as short as it is, hits us right in the gut. Yeah, it’s tough out there. And yeah, we’ve got what we need to deal. A strong message in such a brief story.

This Week’s Podcast/Interview

With so many across the country, indeed across the globe, frightened, anxious, isolated, even quarantined, Zen master Thich Nhat Hahn offers us all a tip on restoring equilibrium. On creating a moment of mindfulness. See Plumvillage.org for more.

Walking Meditation

It is possible to walk in freedom and solidity, and to arrive in the present moment in every step. Wherever we walk, we can practice meditation.

Walking in meditation means to walk in such a way that we know we are walking. We walk leisurely, enjoying every step. We become aware of the contact of our feet with the ground, and the flow of our breathing. We set ourselves free from our thinking—our regrets about the past, our fears and anxieties about the future, or our preoccupations in the present. We become 100% present with every step.

Thich Nhat Hahn, PlumVillage

We become aware of the contact between our feet and the ground. And we begin to harmonise our steps with our breathing. We may take two or three steps as we breathe in, and then three or four steps as we breathe out. It will depend on your lungs and the natural rhythm of your steps.

As we continue walking, synchronising our breathing and our steps, we become aware of our whole body walking. We can relax any tension in our shoulders or arms, and feel what a miracle it is to be walking on Earth. We can open our ears to the sounds around us, and lift up our eyes to enjoy the trees, or the horizon, or the people around us. Aware of our five senses, we know we have arrived in the present moment. Every step can be nourishing and every step can be healing.

“I have arrived, I am home” means: I don’t want to run anymore. I’ve been running all my life, and I’ve arrived nowhere. Now I want to stop. My destination is the here and now, the only time and place where true life is possible.

Thich Nhat Hanh

Plumvillage.org  

My Current Writing

This week I offer not so much a sample of my own writing, but a link to a brief earlier blog post of mine: Creating Story May 2015: The Spirit Pauses.

In the post I shared a quote from a tweet by playwright J.P. Shanley @johnjpshanley:

image of wave receding at beach

When the tide goes out, the ocean pauses. The spirit is similar. Remember. The tide will resume, and recover the lost ground. Depend on it.

Shanley reminds us that, like the ocean, our own spirit will pause when it needs to. It then resumes. Recovers lost ground. Quiets the scream we hold in. Calms the anxiety.

Time for a walk on the beach. A hike in the woods. A stroll on a garden path.