Creating connections through the arts and across cultures

Day 10 Ten Zen Seconds Blogtour stops at Riehlife:Eric Maisel on How Ten Zen Seconds Helps Foster and Maintain Connection

On March 31st I posted an overview of Eric Maisel's Ten Zen Seconds approach. You'll enjoy many features of the official Ten Zen Seconds official site.

You may also wish to learn more about Eric Maisel's work at his regular website. Eric and I have lots to discuss, so I'm just going to swing right into our conversation.

JGR: You seem to have found a creative connection within yourself that you work from in a variety of ways: writing, coaching, leading groups, creating radio programs segments. As you have cultivated this creative connection over the years, has it become more refined, available and conscious? Easier and fun?

EM: All of the above! More refined, more available, more conscious, easier and more fun! I have the kind of energy and breadth of interest that makes working on different projects and in different mediums the right route for me. Naturally the challenge is not to bite off more than I can chew, which does happen and leads to the kind of exhaustion that lots of people are experiencing these days as they cobble a wide variety of activities together into a life.

Fortunately I haven’t taken on drastically too much and seem to still be able to keep all of the plates spinning. Part of that is switching gears as seamlessly as I can between activities, moving from working with one of my training groups to returning to a current book without any drama or inner complaints, and I use the TZS methods to facilitate those all-day-long transitions.

JGR: Does working with TZS hold this kind of promise for creative people as we approach our work in our various disciplines?

EM: I think it does. By demarcating “islands of mindfulness” throughout the day—this particular hour for our novel, this next hour for our business planning, this next hour for our blue-sky dreaming, and so on—we get in the excellent habit of effortlessly switching gears and “returning with strength” (incantation 12) from the activity before, ready to meet the challenge that the next hour and the next medium or enterprise brings. There is a way of using the incantations that begins to build the habit of “mindful multi-tasking,” where each in a series of activities is entered into with energy and awareness.

You work in a variety of mediums. How do these inform and nourish one another?

I am primarily a writer, always have been and no doubt always will be. My work as a family therapist and a creativity coach bring the kind of real world experience to the writing that I could never have brought to the page just by sitting in my studio and imagining people’s lives. I also briefly had a “visual arts life,” working in abstract pastels, had a few shows, and learned about the visual artist’s life by living it. That no doubt helped in my work with my visual artist clients and in the writing I do about the visual arts. The ways in which each enterprise informs the other seems rich and serendipitous to me and I’m looking forward to new “riches,” possibly as a program host, which looks like it may be in the offing.

JGR: TZS not only creates a deeper connection with work, especially creative work, but also within ourselves and each other. Could you tell us a little bit how this works and the particular incantations that might be useful in deepening connections within ourselves and with others?

EM: Let me give just one kind of example. Children, and especially infants, are superb at picking up the anxieties of the people around them. Bring an infant to a home where the couple is about to break up, although no one knows about that yet, maybe even the couple, and the infant is entirely likely to start crying.

I give this example so as to make the following point: if you want your child to experience less anxiety in life, be less anxious yourself. You practice centering; your child begins to relax; and then you can grow a deeper connection between the two of you, by virtue of the fact that both of you are able to be present without anxiety.

It is very hard to be connected to the people in your life if you are
uncentered, anxious, thinking about other things, worrying about this and that, and not really present. The key to relationship is the actual presence of each person and the Ten Zen Seconds method can help with that as each person individually centers and as a result brings their calmer self to the interaction.

JGR: Do you feel that TZS has potential to increase connections across cultures? How?

EM: That’s a very interesting question. One of the most serious obstacles to cultural connection is the ubiquitous “us versus them” mentality that group identity fosters. The incantations support authenticity and responsible individual action over reflexive group-think and in that sense foster connections across cultures. In particular incantation 8, “I make my meaning,” supports the idea that we should associate with others according
to who they are and what they stand for and not which group they belong to.

Incantation 2, “I expect nothing,” supports cross-cultural connection in a different way, by reminding us to take people as they actually are, without expectations and pre-judgments, as opposed to relying on our stereotypes of them and coming to the interaction with the expectation that a member of a certain group is bound to hold certain beliefs and act in a certain way.

Eric Maisel's Ten Seconds is available at Amazon.

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5 Responses »

  1. Janet, You and Eric touched on some great stuff. Eric’s answer regarding the use of Ten Zen Seconds in "...switching gears as seamlessly as I can ... without any drama or inner complaints" really hit home. Those of us actively involved in a variety of creative expressions can sometimes forget that we started the "plates spinning." And when the need to be present for an elderly parent (93) is added to the balancing act, the value in developing the ability to "switch gears seamlessly" is not soon forgotten.

    You beautifully exemplify the healing creativity offers when invited to merge with real life in your Creative Process with "SightLines - A Poet’s Diary." You express "... Putting together this poet’s diary has been a little like that. It’s a chronicle of my family and I picking up the puzzle pieces of our lives, studying them in light of Julia’s absence, and then looking where to place the next piece. Sometimes we get just the right fit. But, there are a pile of pieces still waiting to be sorted." Something we can all identify with!

    Great site. We will be back.

    Ray and Bernadette
    Publishers of "Bernadette’s Pages: An Intimate Crossroad,"

  2. Janet,
    Great interview!! I especially liked the question on using the TZS to move between 'mediums' and tasks. I found it very insightful and helpful.

  3. Hi Janet,

    What an interesting interview. I really liked the parts about how TZS techniques can help us stay more centered with our children. Great stuff!

    Author of, "Why Didn't Anyone Tell Me? True Stories of New Motherhood"

  4. Thank you, Janet. This passage from Eric about demarcating “islands of mindfulness” throughout the day—this particular hour for our novel, this next hour for our business planning, this next hour for our blue-sky dreaming, and so on—we get in the excellent habit of effortlessly switching gears and “returning with strength” (incantation 12) is incredibly insightful and an excellent habit for artists.
    Anne Marchand
    "energetic and colorful abstract paintings with poetic connections to life"

  5. I've been criticized almost all my life for being scatter-brained. Then, about twenty years ago, I went to an inner works seminar, and when the subject of my "scatteredness" came up, the facilitator asked me if I'd ever allowed myself to be just that - scattered. What would happen if I did? Well, it happens to work very well for me to work on many things at one time, and I've learned to not only allow the process, but to welcome it. Ten Zen Seconds just guides me to transfer my attentions in a more seamless way, as Eric puts it. It gives me more consciousness of my own natural process. Nice angle on the process. Beautiful blog, Janet! Thanks to both of you for sharing your time, space, and insights.
    Peace ~ Dani

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