This week’s reflection was written by Michelle Morris:
Relishing the cool morning air,
its touch; freshness.
The Cardinal, bright red breast,
flits to a small bush, then still.
Sounds of insects, then quiet pervades.
Presence of the cliff in the background.
Mikus developed when I was on retreat in Mexico. One of the activities offered was embodied journalling, a process of being given short prompts and then a few minutes to write something in response to this. I explained to the facilitator I had RSI, and was not able to write much. He suggested to do haikus. This appealed to me; I love the simplicity and focus on nature of this poetry. As we had only a few minutes to write, I decided to do my own style, without needing to conform to the particular number of syllables of haiku. We first called this type of writing a Michiku, which in haiku style became shortened to Miku.
Discovering this way of writing has been wonderful. It has greatly reduced the struggle and striving I have previously experienced with writing. The common roadblocks of perfectionism and fears of inadequacy and failure are not featured so much in my awareness. Synchronistically I just heard a radio program, interviewing performers about their experience of failures and how they can continue their “experiments” nevertheless. In a self-mocking tone Justin Hazlewood (the bedroom philosopher) spoke of “the struggle to do something brilliant “. Doing the miku I feel more ease and the critical voice is quieter. Self-judgement has taken a back seat! And it is very freeing to have more acceptance and let go of trying to express “something brilliant”. The qualities of non-striving and non-judging are core attributes of mindfulness. Jon Kabat Zinn reminds us:
‘Suspending judging, or not judging the judging that does arise, is an act of intelligence, not an act of stupidity. It is also an act of kindness toward yourself, as it runs counter to the tendency we all have to be so hard on ourselves, and so critical.’
In meditation and other parts of our lives, being driven by striving can be a real obstacle. Jon Kabat Zinn gives further valuable guidance: meditation ‘has no goal other than for you to be yourself’. He gives examples of common thoughts we have: ‘if I were only more calm, or more intelligent,… or more of this or more of that, if only my heart were healthier or my knee were better, then I would be okay. But right now, I am not okay’. What might our lives be like if we cultivated more kindness to ourselves and less striving?
In approaching the experience of writing mikus with less judging and striving, and greater sense of curiosity and wonder, there has been the joy of surprises. New ideas emerge as I am writing, ones I had not been aware of in the beginning–a flowing, creative process.
In relation to mikus , the facilitator of the Mexican retreat made a very meaningful comment ‘you have turned your symptom into an asset’. Reflecting on this I see RSI has helped free me to feel accepting of doing something simple and let go of strivings to do ‘something brilliant’.
When I look at all the colours
A feeling of delight.
Drawn to the world of greens,
wanting to immerse myself.
I think of Becky, blind,
in a world of shadows.
I appreciate more,
orange, pink, blue and green,
somehow they appear brighter.
Weekly practice idea: Choose something you would like to create: maybe a piece of writing, a drawing, woodwork, a garden bed, a meal. Try approaching this time of creating with curiosity and acceptance.