After a wonderful conversation and great dinner at Caffe Gelato in Newark, DE with my friend Molly last night, I’m really pondering ways to learn how to relax and still write. We were talking about our constant need to produce. The way that if we have even two free minutes we feel like we have to be doing something; it’s not okay to just sit and stare.

So this morning, I used Google’s “I’m feeling lucky” option and searched out the big hit for the words “relax” and “write.” And I came up with Maia Danzinger’s site “Relax and Write” (perfect!). And while Ms. Danzinger’s book sounds useful, and attending one of her retreats sounds like it would be inspiring, I’m currently simply enthralled with the picture that sits atop the website. Two womens sit lounging on the Relax and Write website.

I can’t remember a time when I looked that relaxed. These ladies look like they’ve just had a beautiful day where the sun tickled their skin, where they didn’t put on make-up or fuss with their hair, where they could just lay around and relax. Wow! Wouldn’t that be so nice? They look so happy.

Molly said something else last night that sticks out to me. She told me of a study where they hooked people up to an EEG to see what parts of their brains were active when they were happy. Molly said that Buddhist monks were off the charts. (Incidentally, Ms. Danzinger is a practicing Buddhist – a connection?) Richard Davidson and Ricardo Matthieu have been mapping the brain as it responds to meditation – see Natasha Mitchell’s interview with them here – and they’ve found that people that meditate – even if they’ve only been doing it for a few months – have more positive emotions, less anxiety, and a strong immune system. (For more info, check out Richard J. Davidson’s book Visions of Compassion: Western Scientists and Tibetan Buddhists Examine Human Nature.

So I’m off to meditate. Really. I’m putting some clothes on, and heading off to yoga. To find some relaxation and maybe some happiness, because if I don’t I won’t be able to write.

Andi

Cover of Davidson's Visions of Compassion