Guided Writing Sessions

Guided Writing Session Directory

Below, you will find recordings for each Guided Writing Session dating back to August 2021 when the sessions were began.

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Guided Writing Session: November 9

Use the red links below to watch or listen to the session recording as well as the writing prompts and follow up questions.

 

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Writing Prompts

1. Do you believe that you were born with a fate, or that the events of your life were predestined? Why do you hold this belief? Be specific.
  • Do you tend to be fatalistic or do you believe you create your own destiny?
  • What is the role of personal will on how our lives turn out?
  • What is your response to the idea that character is destiny?
 
2. Do you have faith in the power of prayer? If so, what supports this faith? If not, why not? Be specific.
  • If you do pray who or what do you pray to? How do you characterize this higher power?
  • What's the difference between prayer and magical thinking in your opinion?
  • Have you ever had prayer reveal something you needed to know? If so, describe that experience.
  • Do you view divine intervention as fantasy or reality?

 

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  1. Do you have faith in the power of prayer? If so, what supports this faith?

I think prayer has power, but not in an external way.  To me, its power is internal.  It’s a request for adaptability to what is.  It’s an attitude of living life as flow, open to change and unknowns.

Prayer invokes a broad scope of grace, rather than asking for specific things.  This open-ended quality is a major difference between prayer and magical thinking.  

My magical thinking believes in itself as hero, savior of the day.  It’s zone is one of power and control.  It focuses on a goal.  It relates to others non-relationally, as  objects and strategies to achieve a certain sequence of events.  

This thinking  believes that if I do x, I will control what happens in my life, bending it to my desires.  This holy grail I seek always seemed to be lurking, a few more seconds away.  It holds my breath in waiting.   

Prayer doesn’t concern itself with doing, so much as being.  If being is, actions may emerge from it, but being focuses more on qualities of the heart.  Prayer is about my relationality.   My functioning as interdependence in life’s system.  The energetic, spiritual level.

My magical thinking is usually well-meaning, but immature— slightly impulsive.  Mine often lives developmentally at  around the age of seven.  It tends to rush itself into being. To leap without looking. To assume others have prepared my way, instead of checking.  It often ends as crash. 

In reality, I shape my experience by what and how I notice.  Prayer is a way of slowing down and looking inward.   It’s centering pace can feel so slow it cancels any sense of time altogether. Prayer shifts me to the spiritual and liminal.

Prayer is an opening to grace, that state of being more than simple addition would indicate as possible.  There is that beautiful principle of emergence Dan Siegel, the neuroscientist/mystic  speaks of.  The self-organizing property of mathematics says the complex system regulates its own becoming.  This is where I think prayer’s power comes from.  From the me’s we’ve always been, but haven’t realized.  

As I hear Siegel, this is not intuitive, but a proven mathematical truth, that things maximize their complexity, allowing for differentiation and connection of these disparate elements.  Siegel speaks of how this connection doesn't make separation go away.  Things can be separate yet connected.  He calls this integration.  Integration can come from prayer.  

Integration is like resonance in music, when tones influence, yet don’t become each other.  It’s like kind boundaries, allowing space between while still connecting.  I’ve previously viewed it as the book formed from my chapter of stories.  Now I’m looking at it more as the energy of others , and my response/ reaction to its effects on my own energy.  Integration as co-regulation.  

Grace is a mystical force of energetic co-regulation.   I’d describe grace as an archetypal perfection of nurturing and patience.  I dream of it as manna, spiritual intercession, providing me with containment while I rest.  This reminds me of that state I call the Hummy Place, not because it’s childish, but because those are the first words I learned to call it.  

Perhaps grace is my dream, as a narcissistic child, tired and desiring some regression.  I remember how my son always seemed to regress a little, before a developmental leap.  I’ve seen this patterning in other children too, as well as in me.  

This rhythm, of losing the balance of being, and then seeking it again, seems to be how life progresses. Prayer is our plea for balance to return. For our next step in knowing,

A few weeks ago, I had some regressive moments.  Perhaps It was all a reaction to the sudden swamping of my body with medications for oral surgery.  Perhaps it was spiritual, a releasing of my resistance into opening.  Maybe it was both, or neither, but a word I don’t yet know.  

The dentist had sedated me with one of those memory-eraser  drugs, and I’d been given others to fight pain and inflammation.   Hours later,  I woke at 3:00 pm, with feelings of distress.   My body was involved in reactions I didn’t like. Something in me was about to move.   I felt my lack of control .  For some moments, I faced my greatest panic.  I found myself in a zone of being without words.  

I see words as my great protector.  They give me the power to ask, to indicate my wantings.  There is no fear greater than being without them, in a world that thinks as power instead of love.  

To add to my anxiety, I was not at home.  I’d spent the night at the home of my son and his wife, because my care plan said I should be observed.  My son was attending me in a form of role-reversal.  

Then my son provided me with a corrective emotional experience.  He saw my distress and provided a space of regulation.  There was matter-of-factness in his voice, as he reminded me I had some guided meditations on my phone, to help me feel better. 

With his words, I felt seen.    It was just the right way for him to offer me support.  I felt known.  I felt contained.  These pleasant interpretations were not what I was expecting.  Usually I tend toward seeing separation.   This sense of comforted-connection was enough to soothe my startle response.   I hit play .  (I lacked the capacity to form my own prayer.) 

My breathing calmed.  I drifted into sleep.  I dreamt vivid dreams.  The dreams said the words acceptance and yielding.  

I knew from past experience that my body wanted to purge itself, and I was getting in my own way with my resistance.  I remembered the relief after a vomit.  I simply needed to accept this message from my body, so that I could move through healing.  To form myself into the openness of prayer.  

I consider prayer reality.  I don’t know, but I hope so.

 

 

Thanks for this writing, Devon.  I especially like "Grace is a mystical force of energetic co-regulation." Siegel's idea of emergence, and how prayer and grace are interrelated, are important food for thought!  I'm glad you had some insight after your recent moments of 'regression.' It happens to all of us.

Happy Thanksgiving!
Mark

Thanks- this topic is one of my favorites.  I’m starting to see “regression “ as code for opportunity for change.  Going backwards can sometimes precurse growth.  Or is that toxic optimism?

Hi Devon,

Thanks for this. I'm not sure how going backward "precurses" growth. That's not what's meant by toxic optimism, but sounds more like a possible recipe for rumination and oscillation, looking to the past to catalyze the future, and ending up where one began.  Regression is an "opportunity for change," that's true, but only in the way that everything that causes pain -- everything that makes one aware of suffering -- is an opportunity for change. Perhaps I am not understanding what you mean? Regression is never advisable if one can help it; it keeps us stuck in the past and old behaviors, where I'm sure you do not want to live.

I hope you're well!  We are coming to Portland for a workshop in February -- perhaps we will see one another there!  Happy holidays, my dear.

Mark

Thanks for giving me pause to consider my word usage. I wasn’t saying what I meant to say in a way that could be heard.  Regression was not the best choice, with it’s pathological implications.  

I was seeing the word more as a pause for energy gathering/integration before continuing to move forward.  Like the way a tide comes in.  Or the way winter precurses spring.  A non-linear progression.  I’ll try writing it a different way.

As for Portland, I’ve been sending David venue suggestions!  If it works out for you to come, I’ll certainly be there.  Seeing you in person again would be wonderful.

My health is good, aside from aging.  My medical schedule no longer conflicts with Tuesday’s group, as of this week. I have cataract surgery  this Thursday, which scares me, but I’ve met with my surgeon and we’ve planned for my fears.  Send me good wishes please.   I hope for good results.  We shall see —Devon