The Thinking and Breathing incantations in Eric Maisel's book entitled Ten Zen Seconds: Twelve incantations for Purpose, Power and Calm are as simple as counting, 1, 2. 1. one thought. 2. two breaths. First take in a deep breath. Second release a cleansing breath out. The thought is a phrase that is to be spoken outloud. The words are to be broken down into two parts so that it has a rhythmic tone to it.
Example: I am open to joy.
breath in as you say I AM OPEN, on the out breath say TO JOY.
Saying the incantations without visualizing them is my downfall. Eric instructs the reader not to create images in his mind while doing these incantation, but to focus only on the words and the breath. I've been practicing and doing better. I have also created my own chakra-zen incantations that are intended to be used for chakra balancing.
Chakra Zen Incantations
(My energy)(is free of blockages)
(My root chakra)(is deeply grounded)
(My sacral chakra juices)(are creative and bold)
(My solar plexus)(feels mellow and calm)
(My heart)(is filled with love)
(My throat)(speaks the truth)
(My third eye)(intuits inner knowledge)
(My crown chakra)(projects inspiration)
(My chakras)(are spinning in alignment)
(My aura)(is colorful and clutter-free)
(My lightbody)(beams brightly)
(I am)(centered and balanced)
EM: Ten Zen Seconds actually a very simple but powerful technique for reducing your stress, getting yourself centered, and reminding yourself about how you want to live your life. It can even serve as a complete cognitive, emotional, and existential self-help program built on the single idea of dropping a useful thought into a deep breath.â€You use a deep breath, five seconds on the inhale and five seconds on the exhale, as a container for important thoughts that aim you in the right direction in life. I describe twelve of these thoughts in the book and you begin to employ this breathing-and-thinking technique that I call incanting as the primary way to keep yourself on track.Where did this idea come from?
EM: EM: It comes from two primary sources, cognitive and positive psychology from the West and breath awareness and mindfulness techniques from the East. Iâ€™d been working with creative and performing artists for more than twenty years as a therapist and creativity coach and wanted to find a quick, simple technique that would help them deal with the challenges they regularly resistance to creating, performance anxiety, negative self-talk about a lack of talent or a lack of connections, stress over a boring day job or competing in the art marketplace, and so on.
Because I have a background in both Western and Eastern ideas, it began to dawn on me that deep breathing, which is one of the best ways to reduce stress and alter thinking, could be used as a cognitive tool if I found just the right phrases to accompany the deep breathing. This started me on a hunt for the most effective phrases that I could find and eventually I landed on twelve of them that I called incantations, each of which serves a different and important purpose.
What sort of hunt did you go on?
First, I tried to figure out what are the most important tasks that we face as human beings, then I came up with what I hoped were resonant phrases, each of which needed to fit well into a deep breath, then, most importantly which moved this from the theoretical to the empirical I tested the phrases out on hundreds of folks who agreed to use them and report back on their experiences. That was great fun and eye-opening!
People used these phrases to center themselves before a dental appointment or surgery, to get ready to have a difficult conversation with a teenage child, to bring joy back to their performing career, to carve out time for creative work in an over-busy day in hundreds of ways that I could not have anticipated. I think that is what makes the book rich and special: that, as useful as the method and the incantations are, hearing from real people about how they have used them seals the deal. I am not much of a fan of self-help books that come entirely from the author's head; this one has been tested in the crucible of reality.
Which phrases did you settle on?
EM: The following twelve. I think that folks will intuitively get the point of each one (though some of the incantations, like "I expect nothing," tend to need a little explaining). Naturally each incantation is explained in detail in the book and there are lots of personal reports, so readers get a good sense of how different people interpret and make use of the incantations. Here are the twelve (the parentheses show how the phrase gets "divided up" between the inhale and the exhale:
1. (I am completely) (stopping)
2. (I expect) (nothing)
3. (I am) (doing my work)
4. (I trust) (my resources)
5. (I feel) (supported)
6. (I embrace) (this moment)
7. (I am free) (of the past)
8. (I make) (my meaning)
9. (I am open) (to joy)
10. (I am equal) (to this challenge)
11. (I am) (taking action)
12. (I return) (with strength)
A small note: the third incantation functions differently from the other eleven, in that you name something specific each time you use it, for example "I am writing my novel" or "I am paying the bills." This helps you bring mindful awareness to each of your activities throughout the day.
Can you use the incantations and this method for any special purposes?
EM: As I mentioned, folks are coming up with all kinds of special uses. One that I especially like is the idea of "book-ending" period of work, say your morning writing stint or painting stint, by using "I am completely stopping" to ready yourself, center yourself, and stop your mind chatter, and then using "I return with strength" when you are done so that you return to "the rest of life" with energy and power. Usually we are not this mindful in demarcating our activities and life feels very different when we do.EM: As I mentioned, folks are coming up with all kinds of special uses. One that I especially like is the idea of "book-ending" period of work, say your morning writing stint or painting stint, by using "I am completely stopping" to ready yourself, center yourself, and stop your mind chatter, and then using "I return with strength" when you are done so that you return to "the rest of life" with energy and power. Usually we are not this mindful in demarcating our activities and life feels very different when we do.
What else are you up to?
Plenty! I have a new book out called Creativity for Life, which is roughly my fifteenth book in the creativity field and which people seem to like a lot. I also have a third new book out, in addition to Ten Zen Seconds and Creativity for Life, called Everyday You, which is a beautiful coffee table book about maintaining daily mindfulness. I’m working on two books for 2008, one called A Writer’s Space and a second called Creative Recovery, about using your innate creativity to help in recovering from addiction.
And I am keeping up up with the many other things I do: my monthly column for Art Calendar Magazine, my regular segment for Art of the Song Creativity Radio, the trainings that I offer in creativity coaching, and my work with individual clients. I am happily busy! But my main focus for the year is on getting the word out about Ten Zen Seconds, because I really believe that it is something special. So I thank you for having me here today!
For information on Eric Maisel's books and services please visit ericmaisel.com