Stuck? Stressed? Writer's Block? Have a minute? This will help.
Have you ever sat down to write your book or work on another creative project and found yourself stuck? Perhaps you’re ruminating about something else in your life, or you may be stuck in a closed loop of resistance around your creative work.
Whatever it is, this simple but powerful one-minute practice can help you create space, get out of that mental holding pattern, and get on with your creative work.
I’m thrilled to introduce you to Margaret, who is here to teach us this practice. Below is a video of our conversation and demonstration of the practice, as well as a transcript of our talk.
Video of Creative Self-Care Practice
Transcript of Creative Self-Care Practice
Hello everyone, this is Jaime Fleres, author and book coach. I'm here with a friend of mine; we have a special treat. I'm so excited to introduce you to my friend Margaret. Margaret Kirschner is a certified birth doula, a certified trauma-informed yoga therapist, as well as a certified substance abuse counselor.
She is here to share with us a really incredible self-care tool that is great for writers, or really anybody who is stressed or stuck on recurring thoughts—perhaps your inner critic is really active, or you just need a quick way to cultivate more spaciousness and calm.
What is the practice
Thanks Jaime, everybody. This technique is called bilateral stimulation— it's a technique that works with our brain and our nervous system. This can be eye movement, like watching something move through your field of vision left and right. It can be auditory, like different sounds, but what we're going to practice is tactile stimulation on both sides. The technique I’ll be sharing is called the butterfly technique with tapping. I've layered on to this technique the breath work of prolonged exhalation, which can be very calming, and then writing afterward.
SIDE NOTE: Bilateral stimulation is the same process EMDR, a system of healing trauma, uses to achieve its effects
This is a really simple self-care technique that you can use pretty much any time to get out of a stuck place, recurring thought, or any kind of limiting belief.
How it works
This practice produces a relaxation effect - it's called bottom up. What happens first is you might notice the release of tension in your body. And then after that, it influences the thoughts and it seems as though there's more spaciousness. There's a distancing effect, meaning that we have a little bit of space between ourselves and the problem and we can see that clearly. There's also a decreased anxiety or worry.
It's almost like an orienting reflex, for those of you who are scientifically-minded. It's like the brain cannot focus on several things at once, if we hear a sound we're going to shift our attention to notice "Okay what was that sound?" In this way, the practice works by interrupting a negative thought process.
One thing I’ve found that can be problematic with people who want to control or be in charge of their thoughts is they try to hold the thought in their mind as a task during the practice, and really you don't have to.
You can simply notice a thought—maybe a stuck place or recurring thought that's not so helpful—and then just do the tapping and the breathing and notice what happens. You don't have to try.
It's simply like stepping back and getting away from the doing part and simply relaxing in the being just to notice what happens. You can give it a try.
How and when to use the practice
Yeah, let's give it a try. And let's hear, either before or after we do the technique, when you use it. Margaret, I know you're a writer and you're working on a book, so how would you apply this? When would you actually use it?
So I have been starting my writing process with this, but at any time during the writing process you can pause and just do a quick one-minute.
And you can use it even if you're not writing a book, just as you go about your day.
Yes, for example, I’ve used it in bed when I am awake and I would really like to fall back asleep and my mind is doing that ruminating thing. So it's effective anytime, anywhere.
It takes about one minute. One minute or more seems to be the magic amount.
We all have one minute, right? A very accessible practice. All right so let's try it out, and we encourage you try it out with us as you read this.
How to do the Practice
Yeah. So the bilateral stimulation is crossing the midline, so we're going to cross our arms over our chest, and bring the fingers together. Under the collar bones there's an acupressure point related to your kidneys. On top of your kidneys are the adrenal glands associated with stress. So what we're doing is interrupting stress.
So we just start tapping under the collarbones in an alternate pattern— left, right, left, right. Any kind of rhythm and pace, and then add a nice deep breath and a long extended exhale. I'm going to stop talking, but we're going to continue, and I'd like you to just notice what's happening.
You can continue as long as you like, but when you're feeling like that's enough, just let your hands relax on your legs. You may want to end with looking to the left and to the right. (This is another bilateral stimulation practice to help you integrate.)
And notice any changes.
The Effects of this Simple Practice
I feel a lot of settledness in my central channel, in my core. I feel a calm spaciousness in my being. And I notice more space between my thoughts too.
I noticed the same, it's as if the brain cannot hold simultaneous thoughts - like a stressing one and a calming one. So everything gets merged in the middle, integrated.
Moving from DOING to BEING
And there's space from which to create. And one of my good friends, Renée Trudeau, said “we create from our current state of being.” So if we're in our state of doing, we step back and we come into this state of being where all of the creativity is available.
We create from our current state of being.
Yes. Beautiful. Thank you so much, Margaret. What a gift to receive this practice, such a simple thing to integrate into your life, just takes a minute.
You can do it —probably not while driving— but pretty much anywhere else. You can do it in bed, you can do it as you're going about your day, right before you start your creative practice, work, whatever it might be.
I encourage you to give this a shot, we'd love to hear how you experience it. Thank you so much Margaret for coming and taking time to share with us this beautiful simple practice.
Connecting with Margaret
If those of you are interested in learning more about Margaret — she's up to so much great work in the world — you can find her on her website at www.amindfulemergence.com.
There you can learn more, she's got a ton of information and resources there about addiction, movement, and mindfulness.
Thank you so much, we’d love to hear how you experience this practice. And if you enjoyed this practice, please share using these links: