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I spent the last five days at a writing and meditation retreat in Santa Fe, which was amazing and wonderful and inspiring and tiring. I spent most of yesterday trying to get home after storms in Dallas messed up air travel for the whole center of the country and beyond, finally making it home about an hour and a half later than I was supposed to be (midnight instead of 10:30).
The retreat was led by Natalie Goldberg, who I’ve written about before, and Wendy Johnson, who I haven’t, but will in the future. She’s a fantastic Zen practitioner and teacher whose particular passion is gardening. I’ve been reading her book, Gardening at the Dragon’s Gate, and it’s lovely. She’s smart and sassy and kind, with a huge playful and mischievous streak. I pretty much fell in love with her this weekend and I know I’m not alone.
One of the things she said, related to meditation and to coming home at the end of the retreat, is that we need to honor the transition.
When you’re done sitting, don’t just jump up and move on to the next thing.
When you’re home from a retreat or vacation, don’t rush off to the million things that were neglected while you were gone.
How I’m Honoring the Transition
So today I’m a little slower getting to my blog post and video than I have been on recent Mondays.
I did my morning pages in bed after taking the girl to school.
I sat, outside, for 20 minutes, then walked around a little outside (so glad Wendy can’t see my garden right now; it’s a mess!).
I took a long, warm shower, a big treat after freezing cold showers at Upaya.
I gave myself a manicure to thank my hands for all the work they’ve done lately.
I took care of some household things.
I took some of the fresh flowers husband bought to welcome me home and put them on my desk. And am slowly clearing the desk around them.
I’ve been drinking a lot of water.
I did writing practice for 10 minutes after eating lunch away from my desk.
How to Honor the Transition in Everyday Life
But it’s not just about coming home from far away when we talk about honoring the transition. There are transitions in every day that benefit from being noticed, from a little shift in energy and attention.
To me honoring the transition is a way to remind yourself to be where you are.
When you pick your child up from school, honor the transition by shifting into parent mode.
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When you drive home or your spouse comes home from work, transition into focusing on them for a little while. (They should do the same, of course; this isn’t some kind of wait-at-the-door-with-slippers-and-a-scotch thing, though I’m sure husband wouldn’t mind that, if he wore slippers.)
When you’re getting ready to do something creative, do you have a ritual? Lots of writers do. They might sit in the same chair, with a cup of tea, light a candle, put on soft music, whatever. Pulling out your chair and sitting down comfortably could do it, too. Anything that signals to you that this is creative time, not the time to think about all the other things you aren’t doing right now.
When you get to work, wherever you work, and you switch on the light, use that as a moment to transition to work mind, leaving those other things you can’t control in that space behind.
It’s not an easy thing to do, but it’s important.
So that’s this week’s challenge: honor the transition.
I’d love to hear if you have transition rituals in your life, or if you want to start doing something special to mark your creative time. I’d love to know what you try and how it feels for you.
Read the previous creativity boost: Do Something Scary
Read the next one: Pay Attention