Friday, March 19, 2010

Consciousness-based Writing: the Writing Routine

I recently received an article from an online college blog entitled "101 Habits of Highly Effective Writers." The title, of course, was inspired by Steven R. Covey's 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Covey visited Fairfield this school year, spoke to the community, visited Maharishi School, and spoke to our seniors.

Steven Covey spoke about his message of success, talked about his son's book, 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens, and also listened and learned about the programs of Consciousness-Based Education and the Transcendental Meditation program taught here at Maharishi School and Maharishi University of Management.

As a writer, a teacher of Transcendental Meditation, and a career classroom teacher and teacher at Maharishi School, I found the first section of the article "101 Habits of Highly Effective Writers" quite interesting in the light of what I call consciousness-based writing.

The first section of the article on writing is titled "Routine," which focuses on how to schedule one's life to be a more effective writer. "Finding and maintaining a successful writing routine will help you become a better writer." I found this interesting because such a "routine" really should be a sub-set of a larger routine: How to Live an Effective, Enlightened Life. At Maharishi School, as part of their Consciousness-Based Education, we teach such a routine, called the ideal daily routine.

How do the suggestions for having an ideal writing routine match up with having an ideal daily routine?

  • Meditation: Students and staff at Maharishi School all practice TM, and scientific research indicates that TM lowers stress and increases creativity by promoting total brain development. Practicing Transcendental Meditation "resets the brain" or provides a "natural 'ground state' of the brain," according to recent studies.
  • Know what works for you: A key component of Consciousness-Based Education is teaching students to ask themselves what is right and true, what we call "self-referral." The ultimate "self-referral" experience is Transcendental Meditation, which allows the student's mind to settle to the source of thought and experience that sense of self in its most simple, quiet state. This is truly the basis of deciding what writing routine is best for any writer. A writer's inner life is also the basis of the writer's subject matter, writing style, themes--everything the writer puts on paper.
  • Scheduling: About half of the suggestions for effective writing dealt in some form with time management and setting goals. Students at Maharishi School learn that "thought leads to action, action leads to achievement, achievement leads to fulfillment." Outer success has its basis in having a clear and dynamic mind.
  • Take care of yourself. "Make sure you are well-rested, get exercise, and stop to eat. Pushing yourself through without taking care of yourself during the day will show in your writing." Since rest is the basis of one's activity, the deep rest provided by the practice of Transcendental Meditation establishes a powerful basis for good writing--a strong mind in a strong, healthy body. Lawrence Eyre, Maharishi School's longtime tennis coach and winner of the National High School Coach of the Year Award, given by the United States Professional Tennis Association, says "Train, don't strain," that learning and growth must be developmental, not stressful.
The connections I have made between Consciousness-Based Education and establishing a good writing routine do not even discuss the daily class routine that students follow at Maharishi School, a routine that emphasizes rest, healthy food, an active engagement in learning, and a balance of differentiated learning activites (including sports and other extra-curricular activities). Those aspects of our school's program are merely expressions of its deepest value--that the development of the total individual, the development of enlightenment, must be the ultimate goal of education if any school wishes to consider itself to be successful in its educational mission.

Copyright 2010 by Thomas L. Kepler, all rights reserved


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