We savor experiences by noticing their details and remaining with them in a meditative way. Savoring takes us a step beyond attentiveness. We notice the detail but then stay there with it, allowing it to do its good work in us.
Prepare to Write
- Set a time to do this writing. Plan a half hour sometime today and put it on your schedule as an appointment you must keep.
- Choose a place to write. It should be free of distractions; you know the conditions that work best for you, whether a home office or the corner of a bedroom or a table tucked away in a local coffee shop.
- Make the space conducive to writing. Disconnect from the Internet; turn off your phone. Get rid of clutter, such as books, calendars, or projects. Enhance the environment with what helps you: background music, a lit candle, an image or object that calms or inspires you.
- Give yourself five minutes to settle in and get ready to write. Sip your coffee or tea, if that helps. It’s probably better not to have food around because eating can become a distraction. Find a good position for sitting. Close your eyes or find a visual point of focus. Take several deep breaths.
- Consecrate the time, space, and your efforts. Accept this writing time as God’s gift to you. Offer your time, energy, and work back to God. Ask the Holy Spirit to clear the way for writing that will benefit you. Expect good work to happen.
Do the Work
Most of the time, it’s best to write quickly and not think too much about what you’re writing. This allows the flow of material to come forth. Choose one or both of the following exercises.
- Review today’s events, and also what happened during the past week, to recall a particular time—a few moments, or an hour-long conversation or engagement—that was particularly positive for you, that was satisfying, joyful, restful, stimulating, inspiring . . .
- Write a paragraph about that time. What happened? How did you feel? What meaning, if any, do you take from this event or moment? Write just a paragraph of five to twenty sentences.
- Read over what you have written and choose the phrase or sentence that stands out the most. Then write that phrase or sentence at the top of a clean page, and use it as a prompt to write a new paragraph.
- If you’re so inclined, go through the same process again with this new paragraph. This kind of writing can help you enter more deeply into an experience, better to savor it. It can help you focus on what was most important or the most meaningful for you.
- When you notice that you are having a good experience, make a mental note of it. This experience could be a few moments watching the sun come up, or it could be an encouraging conversation with a friend, or it could be the moment you realize that you’ve done a good job at something.
- If you can’t stop while this experience is happening and write about it, jot down a few words to bring the memory back later.
- But if you can, pause and write down how you feel right now. Describe the physical situation: weather, colors, room or landscape, aromas, textures, sounds, tastes. Allow your positive emotions to take the writing where it will. Try to spend five or ten minutes writing your response to this experience while it’s happening or shortly afterward.
Reflect on the Work
- Read what you have written during this time.
- Highlight or underline a word, phrase, or paragraph that has the most emotional pull for you as you read it now.
- Ask these questions: How did it feel to do this writing today? Was there a free flow to it? Was there resistance? Did I feel relieved to do this writing, or was the experience unsettling or negative in some way? What one bit of wisdom can I glean from today’s writing? What outcome from this exercise am I most thankful for?
- If there is some action you need to take, as indicated by this writing experience, make a note of it. If you can, plan how you will take action.
- You can take this a step further and talk to God [Jesus, Holy Spirit] or Mary or your favorite saint about this experience.
If you feel so inclined, share with the DDF community a sentence or two about this experience—today’s or the retreat as a whole. Thank you for participating in our retreat.
I wrote the material this week especially for this online retreat—these are not book excerpts! However, if you find this material helpful and would like to pursue your writing further, you will probably enjoy my book: The Art of Spiritual Writing: How to Craft Prose That Engages and Inspires Your Readers. Use code 4535 to purchase your copy at 30% off through 10/05/14. Shipping and handling are additional.