Inauguration Incantation

You have hurt me
I store this in my armbone
You have hurt me
I store this in my chestbone
You have hurt me
I store this in my neckbone
You have hurt me
I store this in my marrow bones.
I have hurt you
you store this in your heartbone
I have hurt you
you store this in your belly bone
I have hurt you
you store this in your mind bone
I  have hurt you
you store this in your source bone
in your being bone
at the base of your neckbone
in your reptile mind bone
You have hurt my mind
my love organ
You have hurt my brain
my eye organ
You have hurt my throat
my voice organ
You have hurt my cells
my breathing organ
You have hurt my womb
my heart organ

And I hound you
Hound your bombing missiles
Hound your tax cuts
Hound your poison policies
Hound your 100 word vocabulary
Hound your arctic drills
Hound your dead sea creatures
Hound your highest-bidder family planning
Hound your oil addiction
Hound your white hooded support network
Hound your domestic terrorism white house
Hound your hybrid vegetables
Hound your censoring of human love
Hound your elimination lullaby

But I am not at war with you.
My war
is with your avarice
my war
is with your hate
my war
is with your wrath

and your wrath will not pull me down

because your wrath is not my sun

your wrath is a black hole in your eye

your wrath pulls bile into itself and

my sun is warm
beauty, diversity, poetry, and love.

My sun is love.

It is one among millions of suns,

all sourced from the same light.

holdpaperhands red candle chant, shout, screamsounds rage into red candle burns rage into red candle burns brighterhotterforceangerfuels now firepapers tininto burn out papers burn down lightwhite candle replace the rage with (peace self-esteem calm security) newemotionsenergy fill you up write feelhealing sourcestrength

-Kristin Prevallet
From Solidarity Texts: Radiant Re-Sisters edited by Laynie Browne
https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B1rs1mKiAeL4NFlybzBUWUVSNEk/view

Three Reasons to Jumpstart your New Year’s Resolutions Now

Have you ever made the conscious decision to change something about your life or health, and then said to yourself: “I’ll do that AFTER I get through this stressful time in my life.”

Only to find that stress never really passes – or if it does, you no longer feel the same urgency or commitment to make the change?

Until, as poet John Ashbery writes in the poem “Varient”

“the whole thing overflows like a silver
Wedding cake or Christmas tree, in a cascade of tears.”

Here are three good reasons to cascade the change you want to make in your life not into tears, but into a path that has already begun to form, one day at a time, starting now.

1. New Year’s Resolutions Don’t Work…

…unless, of course, you have a steel resolve and the unflinching willpower to maintain your initial burst of enthusiasm. What does work is to set realistic goals and take small steps on a daily basis towards those making those goals a reality. So if you start now, by the time the new year rolls around you’ll be on the right track.

2. Laying down the seeds to get yourself started might not be as hard as you think.

For example, if weight loss is your goal, what if you made the commitment now to eat 1/2 your usual portion, savoring every bite? If you’re trying to stop smoking, how about spending this week smoking 1/3 fewer cigarettes, becoming more aware of your cravings, and drinking a glass of water each time you feel a craving coming on?

Whatever your goal may be, chunk it down to what is possible and commit to that. It will be easier to achieve.

3. Stress may stifle your desire to make changes, but procrastination buries it alive.

A new year is a reminder of how time flies – Tempus fugit. Whatever it is that you’ve been meaning to can drag your energy down, making it a lot harder to commit to larger changes. So find six hours between now and the New Year to do what you need to do to get that “to do” list in motion.

If it’s something big – like writing a dissertation or starting a new business – then separate the forest into trees, and the trees into branches. Make the job smaller, and once you’ve got it started keep taking small steps until you’re on a roll.

Happy new year – every day, starting now.

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If you’d like some guidance, there are two ways that I can be of help to you.

If you’re in the New York area, join me for a Resolution Retreat Feb 3-4.
Click here for more info

Or, you can call me for a free, 30 minute resolution exploration phone call.
Click here for more info

Time Sculpting

time sculpture.jpg
Time Flies. (Sculpture by Daniel Arsh)

When my baby daughter was born, I remember being quite intent on trying to figure out how I was going to maintain my writing practice (I had a few projects still on the burner).

Pre-baby, my relationship to time was one of relative control (luxurious chunks of 6 hours on weekend mornings; 2-3 hours during a typical teaching day). I sought out other mothers who were also artists, and I tried to emulate them: some wrote into the night (I fell asleep just thinking about doing that.) Some got up early in the morning, a couple hours before the baby (I tried that a few times, but I always fell asleep at my desk.)

At some point it occurred to me that trying to “find” time was simply not working. Time simply wasn’t to be found. If it was hiding, it was doing a really good job of it. Plus, with so much of my time focused on the baby, I had no energy to play hide and seek with an invisible entity. The game made me crabby and irritable.

And so, I figured out how to relax into the flow of time as dictated by the baby. She had a schedule, and I followed her into it. What I found was time—not a lot of it, but there were some increments:  30 minutes here, 45 minutes there. On occasion, an hour.

Something interesting happened: instead of getting angry or resisting the baby because she “stole” my time (as if time was no longer “mine” ) I became hyper-focused in the short bits of time that I did have. And I found that I could get a lot more work done in 30 minutes than I used to get done in 2 hours.

Doing this had a several positive outcomes: Firstly, I became a much more present mother. When I was with the baby, I was with the baby. Secondly, because those short bursts of time when I could work felt so good, a track was maintained for my writing practice.

When she went to school and I suddenly had more time, I realized something that time-gurus (yes, they exist) had figured out: the human brain works best in short increments. My baby taught me how to do “time-boxing”—and as I continue to practice it, I find that I have more time, and I am able to be much more productive.

“Time-boxing” is an interesting metaphor–does it mean putting time in box, or boxing it into submission?  I prefer to think of the practice as sculpting. In this way, time becomes material—and hence an art project in and of itself.
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If you are a writer or artist and feel that your relationship with time is not what you want it to be, come to my 3-hour workshop at the Millay Colony’s NYC site on November 12, 10-1pm.

I will present you with guru time-management strategies that have worked for me, and that work for many of my clients who used to struggle with procrastination.

I will also guide you with visualizations and techniques from hypnotherapy that will allow you to unconsciously transform your relationship to time.

And through the combination of conscious (time management) and unconscious (emotional blocks, areas of unproductive resistance) you might just leave the workshop feeling hopeful that your art or writing practice remains alive and well—even if, for the moment, it feels trapped in time.

Register here:
Time Sculpting: A Workshop for Parent Artists
November 12, 10am to 1:30pm
The Millay Colony, East Village Annex

A Burning Is Not A Letting Go

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Installation by Suzanne Levine

Part of my passion for studying the unconscious mind in all of its various manifestations has involved many ponderous nights thinking and reading about memory.

I’ve finally put some of these musings into a collaboration with photographer Suzanne Levine, which is on display as part of the Drawing On Language show currently on display (through June 23) at the Municipal Building Gallery in Hastings-on-Hudson, NY (curated by the Hastings Art Commission.)

I wrote an essay about our collaboration, published in the wonderful magazine of art & politics, Guernica. (Click photo for the link to the essay.)

Thanks for checking it out!

Warmly,

Kristin

 

 

Thoughts: Confusion, Difficulty, and Poetry

This is an excerpt from my book Trance Poetics: A Writing Mind. I am posting it now in honor of Ann Lauterbach whose work has inspired “The Difficulty With Poetry: Opacity and Implication in the New and Old,” a conference being held this weekend at Bard College, as part of The Institute for Writing and Thinking.

Confusion creates new neurons

OwenPhillips Shakespeare's Brain

“The arc beyond the already known, a radiance that enters so you know you are porous, possibly even contaminated as the skin, touched, knows itself as that which is touched.”                   –Ann Lauterbach, The Night Sky (153)

I’ve always believed that art, music, and poetry have the magic ability to “take us out of our minds.” Meaning, to defy our expectations and allow us to “see” with a renewed sense of vision; or hear with a renewed sense of listening.

This “renewed sense” doesn’t have to mean “pleasant.” Often it’s in the  move into and through the anxiety of uncertainty – I’m hearing something in a new way, and I don’t like it!” where real learning happens.

Milton Erikson, the father of therapeutic hypnosis, believed that when a person is “stuck” in a problem she is very likely thinking about the problem way too much. All this thinking results in the knotted bramble of neural clusters, all firing to make the problem even bigger.

He believed that if a person allowed even a fraction of a second to knock out these kinds of habitual thoughts with a radically different frame of  reference – something that surprised or shocked them so much that their previous patterns of association (the problem) had to leave their body and mind completely – that this moment of “pure awareness” and fascination could result in something new: an opportunity for an altered mode of attention.

Neurologically, this is the phenomenological correlate of a critical change in the molecular structure of proteins in the parts of the brain that are associated with learning; the creation of new cell assemblies. Or, to put it simply, the creation of new neural pathways that just might – in the same way that a campfire grows larger with kindling – represent an entirely new way of being, in spite of the problem.

“Psychological problems develop when people do not permit the naturally changing circumstances of life to interrupt their old and no longer useful patterns of association and experience so that new solutions and attitudes may emerge.”
– Milton Erikson (20)

And this movement of mind (and its subsequent re-kindling) involves experiencing change in a way that involves the reconfiguration of a person’s most deeply held beliefs about self and world.

Which is probably why you might say that certain books, or pieces of music, “changed your life.”

Shakespeare — who in spite of his reputation for being difficult has been changing lives since 1568 — is interesting to consider in this regard. In an article called The Shakespeared Brain, a team of cross-curricular researchers from the University of Liverpool found that reading Shakespeare has a dramatic effect on the human brain. {ref: This is your brain on Shakespeare}

One of Shakespeare’s stylistic feats is his ability to create sentences in which parts of speech are scrambled or used in ways that defy the rules of grammar. For example, “he childed as I fathered” – a line from King Lear in which nouns “child, father” act like verbs.

What the researchers realized is that when people read, nouns and verbs are processed in different parts of their brain. So when a person reads sentences that are stylistically difficult, the brain has to fire extra neurons to measure and process the confusion.

Those extra neurons result in what they call a “P600 surge”—meaning that when our brains encounter difficulty or confusion it has to work a little harder to fit what is difficult into what we already know. Think of this like a jazz quartet – you’ve got the bass player keeping the background beat going, while the pianist pushes the melody towards ever more complex vibrations and syncopations.

Even just for a moment. To hear the music of the language instead of the incessant chatter—so often negative — that reverberates our thoughts. So that the knee-jerk reaction, “I don’t understand this therefore I hate it,” is suspended.

Of course, expecting a work of art or language to provoke an eureka response that escalates into a profound, transcendent, meditative state every single time (and being upset when it doesn’t manifest) is the creation of another kind of expectation. But that’s ok – the brain functions on expectations. It’s being open to creating new ones that becomes a really useful trick for managing moods and getting unstuck from emotional or physical suffering.

And, writing in brand new ways that may surprise you.

Looping//Interludes

There is a scene I just can’t get out of my head.

There are images, and this is what I remember (fade to black.)

I’ll always remember (fade to black) the scene.

I’ll never forget what happened.

(Fade to black) it’s ingrained in my mind.

Whenever I close my eyes I see these scenes repeating.

There are images (fade to black) and I can see them so clearly it’s as if they were real.

Because what happened was internal, beyond words.

Surfacing as images with no frames.

As if these impressions (fade to black) are all that survived:

On the slope side of a pasture, wild horses.

Under a tree, a cow.

A woman darts across the burning room to avoid the beams collapsing all around her.

Into the pasture, where the horses quickly disperse.

A bomber flies low over a cornfield.

Running through, she has on a dress that matches the flowers.

Picks up a feather and is blown away.

Crushed.

Shattered.

Plummeted.

Flatlined.

She is in smithereens, reduced to shards, smaller than a crumb.

That is what happened.

Scenes, and then (fade to black).

Before, and after, in a sequence.

In the clearing, a man and a woman are suddenly present.

After the fade to black, another sequence.

“Nothing,” is closure.

Simultaneously, the houses are crumbling.

It’s hard to say what happens after that.

Evening of Trance Writing Winter Recording

To thank you for being a peruser of my blog, I’d like to invite you to sit back, relax, and listen to my recent recording. It’s my end of year gift to you.

Winter Evening of Trance Writing

This recording was made during an evening of trance writing that I led on December 6, 2015. It’s not the best quality recording, but I think you’ll like it — it has a kind of sepia tone, old-film reel vibe. And the background music is a soundscape synthesized by composer Ambrose Bye, layered with sounds collected from the center of the Aurora Borealis by Pete Malvasi.

In honor of winter, the imagery of this visualization is centered around integrations of dark and light. After listening to the visualization (or as you’re listening, if you prefer), set a timer (10-20 minutes) and write or doodle freely, whatever comes to mind — your impressions, thoughts, imagery, memories, emotions, imagery etc.

It is important to scribble without self-consciousness — in other words, write without caring whether what you are writing is “right” or wrong. Just enjoy the feeling of language moving from your mind and into your body, feeling free to write nonsense or draw with  no attention to representation.

When the recording is finished, notice how you are feeling and consider that whatever you are feeling is the message you need to receive at this moment. If you’re not in the mood for writing, feel free to just sit back, relax, and listen…and let your mind wander wherever it needs to go to bring you comfort and relaxation.

And Happy New Year!

Winter Evening of Trance Writing 

Writing Flurries

For me, December is always a month of flurries. Sometimes flurries take the form of snow, but I’m talking about the flurries of finishing things up before the new year, connecting with family and friends, and circulating energy around gift-giving.

Spending time at the beginning of the flurry season by centering into my creative practice always feels important to surviving December.

That’s why I am offering a winter writing retreat, with the option to join me in person, or virtually. My workshops are designed to let you write whatever you need to write. Instead of prompts,I provide guided language and sound visualizations that will enable you to enter into your own
unique writing mind.

Whether you’re working through a stressful situation in your life, finishing a manuscript, or looking to rejuvenate your creativity by generating new work, this workshop will provide you with that space.

Click here for more information, or feel free to email me:
kristin@mindbodystudies.com

And through the month of December please feel free to listen to my motivate track – for free!  It includes a soundscape by the amazingly versatile musician Paula Carino.  Listen now. (Scroll down when you land on the page).

Centered wishes!

Kristin