Writing about the process of writing is a topic I never would have shared in years prior. I write. Not much more to say. Lately though, I’ve become more aware of the process and it’s more than just writing. I’ve learned to pay attention mid-activity, to capture that moment and discover a topic to offer readers. This process requires observing what I’m doing or thinking or feeling. Then it involves catching that observation before it’s lost in the rushing river of my thoughts.
Paying closer attention contains aspects of mindfulness practice. “Be here now” is a phrase I’ve heard but didn’t employ. Obviously, I thought, I’m here now. But I’m learning that being physically in one location and simultaneously having my mind somewhere else isn’t being present and it isn’t the way I identify writing topics.
Topic selection taught me to notice where my thoughts go, how I live, what confuses or brings joy to me, what kind of human I’m contributing to the world. Then I examine examples from my life that would hopefully be of interest.
It’s surprising to observe how frequently my mind moves. Often when I’m out walking, I’m absorbed in my thoughts and don’t notice the surroundings. It really requires practice and kindness to gently brush aside the judgement that arises when I find myself lost in my thoughts again.
These days, my intention is that if I’m walking, I walk. If I’m writing, I write. Or at least, I’m making an effort in the direction of being present and paying attention. When I do, it feels like time slows down. Never imagined that I’d find the focused attention I’ve developed in writing this column surprisingly applicable, centering and calming in other areas of my life. I hope that discovery was worth sharing.