by Nancy Casey
The work that you will do in your writing practice today is in two parts. In the first part you will do something. In the second part you will write about what it was like to do it. The thing that you will do is an exercise that relaxes your neck and supposedly improves your concentration.
You have probably seen setups where bright spotlights shine up into the sky, making it look like light sabers are scribbling on the clouds and stars. You are going to pretend that you have one of those spotlights shining straight up out of the top of your head.
But first you have to pick a number between 8 and 20. Do that now.
Then sit comfortably, in a position where you will still be comfortable in 10 or 20 minutes. You can sit at a table, in a bed, on the floor, in a chair. Your feet can be high or low, legs straight or crossed. Give your back some support so you don’t have to hold it up all by yourself. You might even want to support your head and neck a little bit as well.
Once you are settled, close your eyes, turn on the spotlight on the top of your head and try to draw a slow even circle of light in the sky. I say “try” because you must do this with the whole rest of your body completely relaxed. So the circle probably won’t be round. It will probably be small. Depending on how much tension you have in your neck and shoulders, the circle you draw might be so small that you only imagine drawing it without moving your head.
Remember that number between 8 and 20 that you picked out? That’s how many circles you will draw. Staying relaxed is the most important thing. Going very slowly is important, too. The shape of the circles isn’t so important. It’s kind of interesting to notice how lumpy they are and how they change.
Count slowly to yourself as you make each circle. If your mind drifts off or you lose count, start over. (That’s the “improves your concentration” part.) When you have drawn all the circles in one direction, reverse course and draw the same number of circles in the opposite direction.
What if you keep losing count and it seems like you’ll never get done? Just say “Oh well” every time you have to start over. If you keep at it for 10 or 20 minutes, that’s certainly enough to say that you gave it a good try and stop. If you only had time to make circles in one direction, draw a couple of circles in the opposite direction before you quit, just so your neck can unwind.
Then write about what that was like. How it felt. Whether it was easy or hard. If you kept forgetting about what you were doing and thinking about something else, write about what you were thinking. You could end up not writing about making circles at all. Whatever you write, give it a title and put the date on your page. Here is an example: http://planetnancy.net/writing-prompts/relax-your-neck/
You can draw these circles in the sky at any time. In the bathroom when you want a few moments of privacy to refresh your mind or calm down. In bed when you can’t sleep. In the morning when you wake up.
Change it up. Experiment with different numbers of circles. Imagine the spotlight is on your nose, or that you have one on each ear.
Anything goes, as long as you make circles, stay relaxed, and cheerfully start over each time you lose count.
Nancy Casey has lived in Latah County for many years. She has taught writing classes at the Recovery Center and will return again in the spring of 2018. You can find more of her work at http://www.PlanetNancy.net. If you would like her help with a writing project, email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.