Monday, August 19, 2013

Like Honey Inside a Piece of Rock

Show your love. Don't hide it under a mask like honey inside a piece of rock. 

I hear this message often now. I heard this first from the mystic, Mata Amritanandamayi. Psychology authors also endorse this(James Pennebaker- in his book Opening up- the healing power of expressing emotions, talks of the value of expressing emotions by writing them). 

All my life, I had been growing inside a cocoon, not showing emotions, like the tennis legend Bjorn Borg who wore a steely mask on court, my teenage icon. I too learnt to wear a mask. Even if I felt like crying or laughing or showing anger, I wouldn’t. I might want to, but it was frightening to let go.

I understand most people do the same. There are very few who let go, and be their own selves, though we hear this advice often.

Nobody wants to be thought of as a crank.

This takes a heavy toll on our health—and our relationships. Fathers and sons never get to know each other really well, and to trust each other.

We are mortally afraid of having eye contact with our kith and kin for a longer duration, for fear of showing our inner selves, perhaps.

Marina Abramovic’s example
In this video, you can see artist Marina Abramovic. She talks of her mother who never hugged or kissed her, and never expressed any warm emotions. It was the height of the Nazi invasion of her homeland (then Yugoslavia), and the times were tough. Her mother did it because she did not want to ‘spoil’ her.

Sadly, Marina never got to experience a motherly hug or kiss even though she deeply craved for it all her life.

She grew up to become a pioneering new age artist, breaking down the concepts of traditional art.

Sometimes she ventured near the extremely dangerous. You can see the effects of her sad childhood in her performances. In an effort to transcend human barriers, she once enclosed herself in a burning Star of David, engraved on the ground. By the end of the performance, the intense heat and the noxious fumes from the gasoline rendered her unconscious. She was saved at the last moment by someone in the audience who noticed her lying still.

Now 65 years of age, she visits a relative in Belgrade in the video. In the course of the interview, the relative tells her the reason for her mother’s emotional aloofness and how her life was a sacrifice for her country and people.

Marina is shattered to learn that her mother was, in fact a very emotional person, who had been constrained by her conditioning. She had kept every single paper cutting of Marina’s performances, from the beginning to the day she died.

Unfortunately, Marina would see them only after her mother died. If only she had known, she would have related in a completely different way to her, and it could have prevented so much pain.


Nature resonates with her pain?

The part after 8:50 in the video is specially worth watching.

Marina breaks down at her Mother’s grave, and recites a few lines:

Dear Mother,
I didn’t understand you as a child;
I didn’t understand you as a student;
I didn’t understand you as an adult;
Until now, in my 66 years of life,
It (your love) starts shining in the full light,
Like the sun that suddenly appears behind grey clouds
After rain”

Let's not hold hidden our feelings for our loved ones. Just as loving thoughtful actions, a smile or a hug can also mean a lot.
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Sunday, August 11, 2013

How to Make SOC Writing Provide Real Gold

If you are an aspiring writer, you would have tried SOC (stream of consciousness) writing to mine out rich ideas for your literary creations. As for me, the results were often disappointing. What was your experience with SOC?

Rarely do we see something of remarkable value appear in this way.

Entrepreneurs also try to mine their subconscious with SOC writing to get million dollar ideas and frequently get the same result. 

The reason is that the minds of most people are already given to a million odd things, scattered all over. So the mind is not able to produce anything of exemplary value.

The solution is to cultivate laser focus on a few select topics, reducing our personal interests and wants to the extent possible. Success is a bitch goddess, the saying goes. Great works were produced when their creators secluded themselves up for extended periods and contemplated on their focus topic. They gave up energy frittering trivial pursuits at least temporarily.

Do this regularly and you will see the quality of your output improve everyday.

Do you use SOC writing to improve the quality of your work? How was your experience? Do let me know your take on it in the comments here.
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Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Turning Garbage into Gold: How to Write Well with Stream of Consciousness

You probably know the benefits of free writing or stream of consciousness writing. It helps to relax ourselves, brings out repressed emotions, and helps us confront hidden issues in our personality.

However this is about therapeutic benefits. Can we use soc writing to mine ideas from our subconscious? After all, popular texts celebrate the subconscious mind as a treasure house of knowledge. It is the silent partner who mulls over the inputs from your conscious mind and provides insights and solutions.

When you try to use soc writing in your literary pursuits, you may be disappointed that it does not provide much help other than to clear up your mind.

As one might surmise from Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers, does transferring your thoughts to paper work magic and make you an expert if you keep at it for 10,000 hours? I doubted it. I did not think it would make me an expert. (Read about the benefits of free writing here). However, as the process goes on, I have had some inspiring insights:

In the beginning, all that comes out may appear to be garbage-incoherent, meaningless babbles that resemble a one-year-old’s scrawling. Very disappointing.

Hold on, don’t lose hope yet. This does not mean there is a scarcity of idea gems in your mind. You do have the occasional brainwave, right? But all of us hesitate or procrastinate putting those thoughts down, and they are lost forever. Thoughts are hard to grab, like Mercury.

While starting to free write, it is like learning to speak to a crowd: we are tongue tied; we don’t have confidence in ourselves. We are not relaxed, are not our natural selves, and do not enjoy the process.
Most writers will give up at this stage when they see the scrambled mumbo-jumbo of words on the screen. It is here that you must keep on writing.

Your subconscious is like a child—it will be happy that you have accepted it in spite of shortcomings, that you have faith in it. Self-acceptance relaxes. You become more relaxed while free writing and become your natural self, so that your thoughts and insights start to flow freely when you sit down to write. It is here that you will see garbage turning to gold.

Wait a minute, it isn't pure gold yet. But it definitely is gold ore that you can smelt through editing and refining to present something of remarkable value.

Note: If you already have some ore, you can turn it into pure gold with this guide from acclaimed author Bruce Ross-Larson : Edit Yourself: A Manual for Everyone Who Works with Words




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