Tag Archive for: meditation

I Give You to River by Linda Rodriguez

I GIVE YOU TO RIVER, a poem for National Poetry Month (reprinted from Linda Rodriguez Writes – April 25, 2019)

Like my ancestors before me, I love rivers. The peace of running water always calms me, watching it ripple past slowly, hearing the murmur of the water over rocks and
branches and the swish of it against the banks, spying the many lives that live along the river–fish, turtles, snakes, muskrats, beavers,   hawks, and eagles. For millennia, my people have always chosen to settle near rivers.
When I was growing up, I was taught to go to water when troubled or ill. Running water is strong medicine, good medicine. We pray next to it, and then use it to wash away whatever is troubling our hearts, minds, or bodies. Sometimes a creek or brook will work for me, but if I’m truly heartsick, I seek out a river.
This poem is another in a series of poems that I have posted to celebrate National Poetry Month. It is an exploration of this practice of going to water when troubled. In the worst kind of pain and grief, sometimes only a river can provide any release. For a healing ceremony, one needs to build a fire, say the right prayers, make an offering, but sometimes in the worst straits, it can be simply you and the river.


Turning to the water for release
from my troubles, from you,
I write your name in my palm with my
then brush off the invisible letters
into the river currents passing at my
I ask River to carry them out of my
heart and mind,
carry them away from my life, remove
all that darkness
that is you infesting my mind against
my will,
replaying memories that were nothing
but playacting on your part,
though my heart tries to find excuses,
for all the deliberate pain.
I have to face it finally—there are
Hard to believe, but even harder to
I still long for you.
This stubborn heart won’t give up.
So I barricade it, keep it safe from
its stupid fidelity,
while I wait for River to carry out
carry your name and games far from me,
set me free finally with the power of
moving water,
my own inborn element,
which carves memories of trauma from
the earth itself
and leaves wondrous scars.
Published in Dark Sister (Mammoth Publications, 2018)

A Simple, Life-Changing Thought by T.K. Thorne

Writer, humanist,
          dog-mom, horse servant and cat-slave,
       Lover of solitude
          and the company of good friends,
        New places, new ideas
           and old wisdom.

Have you ever tossed and turned in bed, unable to sleep because your mind was wildly bouncing from thought to thought? One of those thoughts being, Why can’t I stop thinking? What an interesting thought, your mind says. How can “I” stop thinking? Am I not my thoughts?
I’ll skip to the answer:  No. “You” are not your thoughts.

The way to that conclusion is deceptively simple, yet life changing.

I wonder if the whole practice of meditation came about because of some woman’s difficulty sleeping thousands of years ago. Yes, I know men take credit, but, according to the latest science, women’s brains are more active than men’s. Women multitask and use more parts of the brain, leading, interestingly enough, to the fact that they need more sleep than men. Their brains get more tired.
They can also get stuck in thought buzz-land. Men too, of course.

Meditation is a practice of being still physically and watching mentally. It is becoming deliberately aware of the “I” observing the thoughts. Each time one arises, you recognize it and put it aside. You are not so much stilling the thoughts as finding the Watcher. She is elusive. If you stop paying attention, she slips away and seems to loose herself in the thought, to become the thought.

What is the point?

Just as in sports, you train muscles, in meditation practice, you are training the muscle of your mind. Don’t get me wrong. The thoughts that arise are not unimportant. Your subconscious is a power house that you can channel, something I wrote about in 3 Steps To Engage The Secret Smartest Part of Your Brain. What arises from your subconscious can be significant and powerful or it can be trivial. It can be contradictory, emotionally loaded, or an idle worry. Your subconscious is as much a part of you as your lungs or heart, but a thought is its product. It is not “you” the watcher, you the decider. It is not “thinking” that distinguishes us from most of the other life on this planet, it is the awareness of thinking.

In our culture, we are not taught to distinguish between the thought and the watcher-decider.

“It is not “thinking” that distinguishes us from most of the other life on this planet, it is the awareness of thinking.”

So what?

Here’s what. If we think—I am the worst wife/mother/sister that ever was—and make no distinction between the thought and the watcher-decider, we give that thought en ormous power. It is just a thought! You could have also have thought—I am a big banana.

What is the difference?

Vive la différence, my friend. You are not a big banana. Or a little one, for that matter. Thoughts populate for many reasons. There is a lot of electrical activity going on in the brain. Our brain developed, not to be the most precise or effective instrument for many tasks, but to be creative. Our success in survival is an outgrowth of that ability:

Nut in hard shell=no food. Nut + stone + smash=food.

The possibility of creativity (which meant survival in evolutionary terms) arises when two or multiple disparate ideas collide, i.e., our subconscious brain is designed to be a high-energy-let’s-try-this-and-that-together, kind of place. It is such a wild environment (pay attention to your dreams if you don’t believe this) that an “I” monitor arose to make decisions. This “I” can get in the way sometimes. It is not needed so much when a tiger appears. Decision to Get Out of Dodge is made on a more basic level. The being who stops to ponder about tigers and life gets eaten.

But the “I”-monitor/watcher-decider, plays an extraordinarily important role. As a writer, what I do with a creative idea is as critical as having one. Some ideas need to be discarded. An idea is not sacred. A thought is not necessarily true. You are not a big banana. You are probably not the worst person on the planet either. It is just a thought and you are free to have another one, such as, I am the best that I can be at the moment. Or I made a mistake. It’s not the end of the world. Or I wonder why I am beating myself up over something stupid?

You can let go of anger because you can have angry (or whatever) thoughts, but you don’t have to keep them. You can even change them, because they are not “you.” They are just thoughts. This tiny, subtle distinction can literally change your life.

And maybe help you sleep.

T.K. Thorne’s childhood passion for storytelling deepened when she became a police officer in Birmingham, Alabama.  “It was a crash course in life and what motivated and mattered to people.” In her newest novel, HOUSE OF ROSE, murder and mayhem mix with a little magic when a police officer discovers she’s a witch.

Both her award-winning debut historical novels, NOAH’S WIFE and ANGELS AT THE GATE, tell the stories of unknown women in famous biblical tales—the wife of Noah and the wife of Lot. Her first non-fiction book, LAST CHANCE FOR JUSTICE, the inside story of the investigation and trials of the 1963 Birmingham church bombing, was featured on the New York Post’s “Books You Should Be Reading” list.

T.K. loves traveling and speaking about her books and life lessons. She writes at her mountaintop home near Birmingham, often with a dog and a cat vying for her lap.

More info at TKThorne.com. Join her private newsletter email list and receive a two free short stories at “TK’s Korner.”

Clicking Our Heels: Our Perfect Writing Atmospheres

Clicking Our Heels: Our Perfect Writing

Some people must write in absolute silence
in a special place.  Some choose to write
outdoors, others prefer to look through a window at water. Some must listen to
music while others need food or beverages. The gang was surprised to discover
what a variety of perfect writing atmospheres we have. Here’s sharing them with
Kay Kendall: Two things are essential.
Quiet and a window. I don’t like to feel too enclosed. I can have soft
classical music playing, but nothing with words. If I hear lyrics, then my mind
gets pulled out of the story I am writing.

Dru Ann Love: When I write my musings,
I prefer the TV on as background noise. If it’s too quiet, my mind wanders.

Linda Rodriguez: I write well in coffee
shops for some reason, so if I’m really under the gun or stuck, I head out to a
coffee shop and work away.

J.M. Phillippe: I prefer something on
in the background – music, or even a familiar movie or TV show. This is all so
I can distract the part of my brain that wants to edit as I go (and thus
completely shut down my writing process). At some point though I get really
into what I’m writing and I have to turn everything off and continue on in
silence. At this point, flow has taken over and my internal editor has already
been vanquished.

Debra H. Goldstein: Perfection is being
able to look up and see a body of water while playing show music. I write in
rhythm to show songs. Each book or story has certain ones I play throughout the

Juliana Aragon Fatula: I love to write
with music playing in the background. Music inspires me and makes me more
creative. My blue tooth allows me to pipe music in the backyard while I mow the
lawn or sit under the grape arbor and the sun/moon porch where I write has huge
windows where I can birdwatch and listen to the chimes in the wind. I write in
bed, in the kitchen, in the living roo and when I want to be alone I write in
the camper in the driveway or in the wilderness.

Bethany Maines: I used to have to be
alone and in “the zone”, but having a kid really forced me to fact that fact
that the perfect circumstances to write would never again be appearing. Or at
least not for another eighteen to twenty-five years and I couldn’t wait that
long. I’ve learned that spending five minutes picking away at a scene is better
than getting no writing done, so if I’ve got five minutes I’d better put some
damn words on the paper. It’s not always that easy, but I try.

Sparkle Abbey:

Anita Carter: I like to write in my
office with my any reference book at my fingertips. I have an adjustable
standing writing desk top, which has helped me to write for longer periods of
time. I wish I had it years ago. I can’t write in complete silence. Too many
years of having kids at home, banging around the house. I like music, a
podcast, or a streaming channel (like Acorn) in the background.

Mary Lee Woods: Hmmm. I do like music
on when I’m writing but because I’m easily influenced by the tone, I have to be
careful with my selections. I love using the streaming services such as
Spotify, Pandora, etc. because I can pick a channel that has a particular
genre. I generally have some sort of tea beside me when I write, iced or hot,
depending on the season. And though I have a window in my office, it’s not a
very interesting view and truthfully when I’m fully into the story, it doesn’t
really matter.

A.B. Plum: My office is my favorite
place to write. I don’t listen to music or wear special clothes or keep a totem
near my computer. Surrounded by books, I love my writing nook.

Shari Randall: I would love to be one
of those writers who hangs out in coffee shops, but I don’t drink coffee and
I’m easily distracted. To write effectively, I need three things: silence, a
boring atmosphere, and my focus candle. A friend gave me this large, pure white
candle, and meditating on its flame for a few minutes before writing puts me in
a great state of mind for writing. The quietest place with the least
distraction is my preferred carrel in the back of my public library’s quiet
study area. It faces a blank brick wall. Perfect. However, it would be even
more perfect if I could bring my focus candle, but they don’t allow open flames
in the library – a quandry, for sure.

T.K. Thorne: I need silence and prefer
to be outside if the weather is nice. I have a front and back porch location.
Having the ocean in view is a special treat. Booming surf does not count as

 Judy Penz Sheluk: I write in my home
office, which is painted Benjamin Moore’s Philipsburg Blue, and listen to talk
radio, even on the weekends, when a lot of the shows are advertorial, i.e.
employment law or how to buy a car or invest money. I get a lot of ideas from
talk radio.

Writing and the Pursuit of Happiness — T.K. Thorne


      Writer, humanist,
          dog-mom, horse servant and cat-slave,
       Lover of solitude
          and the company of good friends,
        New places, new ideas
           and old wisdom.

Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.
Thomas Jefferson felt those three things of such importance,
he wrote them into the Constitution of the United States and dubbed them “unalienable
But what do they mean? 
“Life” isn’t a hard one. I like breathing as much as the
next person. “Liberty” may be more nuanced, but we know, at the least, it means
freedom from tyranny. But the “pursuit of happiness” has always kind of
confused me.
For most of my life, the desire of my heart was to have a
horse. My poor parents had to endure the steady entreaties of my obsession,
begging that did not wait for gift-giving holidays.  If only I had thought of it, I could have
declared it was my right as a U.S. citizen to have a horse because that was the
only thing that would grant me happiness.
My sharp mother would have most certainly pointed out that
having the horse was not my right, only pursuing it, which I was doing.
Still, the questions remain. 
What is happiness and why do I have a right to pursue it and just how do
I pursue it? This is not a frivolous question. Please bear with me for a tiny
bit of history.
Thomas Jefferson was a self-declared Epicurean. Epicurus was
a Greek philosopher who lived from 341 BC and 270 BC, about 2300 years ago.  He emphasized pleasure as the highest goal of
mankind. The word today conjures up words such as hedonism, luxury, and sensual
pleasure, all with a negative judgment attached. This misinterpretation may be
laid at the feet of the early Catholic Church who declared Epicurean philosophy
a pagan challenge to the Church and, therefore, heresy.   Very bad things happened to heretics.
The original teachings of Epicurus lifted up pleasure not in
the sensual, temporary sense, but in the long-term acceptance of oneself and
one’s nature that leads to serenity and inner peace. The journey toward that
goal actually called for temperance and moderation.  The Greek word worked its way through Greek
and Latin into English as “pleasure,” but perhaps in modern terms the word “happiness”
is truer to the original meaning.
For the sake of simplicity, let’s distinguish “pleasure” and
“happiness.”  Pleasure is the temporary
chasing and fulfilling of desire. [I must have a horse, now, or I will forever
be miserable.] Happiness is a state of inner peace and balance where life is
lived for the most part in the present. [I love and appreciate horses but if I
don’t  have the Black Stallion in my
backyard, I will still be a complete and fulfilled human being.]
Go tell that to my ten-year-old self. Ha! . . .Obviously, it
takes maturity to find happiness.
Where were we? 
So happiness is something way deeper than pleasure,
something so important and basic that it is our inalienable right to seek it.
What does this have to do with writing?
Again, bear with me for a short backing up.  One of the components of finding happiness is
the ability to live, for the most part, in the present. We humans come with a
brain that has evolved with the capacity to plan.  That is a big deal and definitely made a
difference in our ability to survive.
Planning is not necessarily limited to humans. Squirrels
hide nuts for the winter. (I always thought ants stored food too, but unless Aesop was talking
about the Messor aciculatus species,
that was just a fable.) What we don’t know is if the squirrel is aware that the
tasty nut he hides will feed him come winter or if he just acts on instinct,
but whatever.  The important thing is
that we humans are wired to plan. In ancient days, we sought a cave for when it
got dark and dangerous or rained or snowed. We smoked meet to preserve it. We
learned to grow and store crops. Now we shop at the grocery store but usually for
at least a week’s worth of food.
That’s the good side of concern and subsequent rational
planning, but there is an evil twin lurking. 
Her name is “worry” on a light day, and “anxiety” on a dark one. Our
minds can go into hyper drive about the future or the past. Angst and regret
are children of the mind’s tendency to dwell in a time that is not the present.
[How’s that for mixed metaphors? *sticking
out tongue
* It’s my blog and I can do it if I want.]
Memory can be a friend that saves us from repeating mistakes
and gives us direction for decision making. 
Or it can be a pleasant companion. It can also be a special hell on the
road away from happiness. [See above.]
The answer according to Buddha and Epicurus is to find a way
to live in the present because that is the only experience that is real, that
is truth. There are other aspects of this, but let’s stay with this one—living
in the present, also known as mindfulness. 
Step One used by Eastern seekers of happiness is meditation.  There are lots of ways to meditate, but the
primary goal is to practice bringing the wandering mind (lovingly) back to the now.
We writers are rarely in the now.  We are dreamers.  Our mind wanders as easily and naturally as
breathing.  [Sitting down to dinner and
noticing silverware while guests talk about politics of the day: How would I hide that knife in my clothing
if I were kidnapped—though I put up a brave fight and a breathtaking chase on
my black stallion—and a prisoner in the castle of an evil man who wanted to
marry me against my will?
The present?  Very
funny. Impossible.
Writers spent a great deal of our lives dreaming and
“living” with characters and situations in made-up worlds, so engrossed that
the real world, the present, and the passage of time are completely unnoticed.  [Really. 
Ask my husband.] We are not in the here-and-now. You can’t get more
That makes us failures at Step One, right?
Not so fast. 
Meditation is not an end of itself.  It’s a tool. We exercise and eat well in order to have a healthy body that can
do the things we want to do—walk, run, swim, not be in pain.  Unless you are a monk, meditating all day is
not the goal. The goal is happiness. 
Mindfulness is a state of attention that is conducive to the path or way
of being happy.
Wait.  Did you catch
that?  Directing our thoughts to what we’re engaged in. 
A potter absorbed in the feel of wet clay shaping in his
hands is living in the present. An
artist focused on the task of mixing the perfect color is likewise living in
the present. A child at play. A reader absorbed in a story. A parent intent on helping his child hold a bat. An athlete in the zone. A fruebd truly listening.
The purpose of meditation is to exercise our focus, so that
we can bring our full attention to the moment–to a scene of beauty, a moment of
sorrow . . . a task.
When I am writing, lost in the creating or the shaping of what
I have created, I am happy. I am not “aware” of my happiness. I just am. I am
not judging, not thinking about or worrying about the future or the past. I
just am.  It’s my inalienable right.

A retired police captain, T.K. has written two award-winning historical novels, NOAH’S WIFE and ANGELS AT THE GATE, filling in the untold backstories of extraordinary, yet unnamed women—the wives of Noah and Lot—in two of the world’s most famous sagas. The New York Post’s “Books You Should Be Reading” list featured her first non-fiction book, LAST CHANCE FOR JUSTICE, which details the investigators’ behind-the-scenes stories of the 1963 Birmingham church bombing case. Coming soon: HOUSE OF ROSE, the first of a trilogy in the paranormal-crime genre. 

She loves traveling and speaking about her books and life lessons. T.K. writes at her mountaintop home near Birmingham, Alabama, often with two dogs and a cat vying for her lap. More info at TKThorne.com. Join her private newsletter email list and receive a two free short stories at “TK’s Korner.