Can you use the incantations and this method for any special purposes?
EM: As I mentioned, folks are coming up with all kinds of special uses. One that I especially like is the idea of “book-ending” a period of work, say your morning writing stint or painting stint, by using “I am completely stopping” to ready yourself, center yourself, and stop your mind chatter,and then using “I return with strength” when you’re done so that you return to “the rest of life” with energy and power. Usually we aren’t this mindful in demarcating our activities—and life feels very different when we do.
How do the incantations support the the creative process?
EM: Primarily by reminding a creative person that potential is just potential and that if you don’t completely stop, quiet your mind, announce your intention to create, feel equal to the upcoming challenge, take actual action in the service of your creating, and adopt the stance of a meaning-maker, someone who knows that she has a voice and that what she is about to say potentially matters, she will do precious little creating. Each of the incantations supports a piece of this “stopping and doing the work” process.
How would you address those that say centering is counterproductive to the creative process?
EM: There is a tremendous amount of “artist mythology” out there. Productive artists do a ton of work, they don’t wait for inspiration, and because they want to work for hours on end they have to master their inclination to run from the work when it becomes difficult, which it will at some point every day. It takes a centered presence to stay put like that, diving into the darkness of mystery and returning with poems, paintings, and symphonies, not an anxious, scattered presence. I would say that it is almost completely a piece of unfortunate mythology that centering harms artists—when they aren’t centered, they typically fall apart, grow depressed and self-destructive, and do poorer work.Is there a way to experience this process in 'real time'?
EM: By trying it out! But my web master Ron Wheatley has also designed a slide show at the Ten Zen Seconds site (http://www.tenzenseconds.com/) that you can use to learn and experience the incantations. The slides that name the twelve incantations are beautiful images provided by the painter Ruth Yasharpour and each slide stays in place for ten seconds. So you can attune your breathing to the slide and really practice the method. The slide show is available at http://www.tenzenseconds.com/test_photo_slide.html
- Try practicing the ten zen seconds incantations.