How to Stay in the Zone When Creating
I used to struggle oh so desperately with getting into, let alone staying, in the “zone” when creating. Friends would talk about getting lost for hours in their writing and I feel a twinge of shame. Maybe I wasn’t a real writer since I rarely experienced the fabled zone?
After years of this kind of crappy thinking, and after trying so many things to “get into the zone,” I’d decided it was simply the way I was wired. Anyway, I now knew lots of creatives who didn’t get into the zone. I wasn’t alone. And frankly, I was tired of trying. Just do the work and be grateful when I could.
A few years ago, I started studying meditation with Richard Miller. He has a sublime way of teaching how to discover your natural state of wholeness through the simple feeling of being. You know this non-verbal felt sense of being — and always have — but it can go unnoticed until it is pointed out.
Here’s what started to happen: when I rested in simply being, I’d naturally let go of the thoughts that took me out of the zone and away from creative joy. The thoughts that said “This is so boring!” or that I wasn’t working fast enough, etc.
I began to see that the zone was not a magic place I could or couldn’t find, could or couldn’t stay in. The zone was always present!
The zone only stops existing because I leave it.
So here is how I play now.
I sit down to write or create a retreat — anything creative — and I take a few moments to simply be. I like to imagine Richard saying,
“Imagine it’s a summer’s day and you just finished one task and you haven’t started the next one, and you sit down on the porch and you just… be. Nothing to do, nowhere to be.”
(It’s fascinating to me that I’ve been saying these exact words to women for 24 years. What wisdom in me knew that was important?)
I hang out in being and eventually I start writing, and when thoughts come calling like, “Jill is such a better writer than me” or “Hurry up, hurry up,” I politely set those thoughts free to be in the zone, which I imagine as a never-ending field like the one in Rumi’s poem, “out beyond wrongdoing and rightdoing is a field…”
I stay in the zone of being because it’s here, it’s me, it’s you. Why ever leave? And I don’t do anything about my fears of being a good writer/teacher or my time worries. They are free to be, too.
WHOLENESS IS YOUR ESSENTIAL NATURE — YOU CAN’T LEAVE THE ZONE!
Which means you don’t have to do anything but relax…
So come on, let’s hang out there together… oh wait, we already are! How nice to remember that and be here together.
Originally published at Jennifer Louden.