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The Pen and the Bell

The Pen and the Bell

Mindful Writing in a Busy World

Now available as an eBook on Google Play and in the Amazon Kindle Store.

It can be difficult to create space for our spiritual lives in a world crowded with distractions. The Pen and the Bell is about how to achieve mindfulness and creative fulfillment in spite of long to-do lists.

Foreword By: Norman Fischer   Authors: Brenda Miller, Holly Hughes

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It can be difficult to create space for our spiritual lives in a world crowded with distractions. The Pen and the Bell is about how to achieve mindfulness and creative fulfillment in spite of long to-do lists. It's about gaining access to our deeper selves in the workaday world, and bringing forth this authentic self in our writing. With both meditative and writing exercises in each chapter, it will help you awaken your creative soul and find a more rewarding life.

You can also visit the authors' website for more information.

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Foreword by Norman Fischer

Preface

Ways to Use This Book

Sitting Down and Waking Up

Details, Details, Details

Lectio Divina

Opening the Senses

Preparation Is Everything

Practice, Practice, Practice

Contemplation at Work

The Moments in Between

Spiritual Traditions

Eating as Contemplative Practice

On Gratitude

Travel as Contemplative Practice

Encounters with the Wild

Our Animal Companions

Dwelling in Our Bodies

Responding to Art

Allowing Emptiness

On Mortality

Befriending Solitude and Grief

Balancing Contemplation and Action

A Final Offering

(from the Foreword)

We humans uniquely live in language. Accessing the mystery of our being through language has always been a crucial part of our nature. As Holly Hughes and Brenda Miller make clear in this book, language is essentially a spiritual practice-a practice perhaps more available to us today than meditation, prayer, or anything else. Writing was at one time an esoteric practice for specialists. When I was an aspiring adolescent writer, I looked up to writers as rare individuals, the anointed ones, literary lions whose fame and fortune was often accompanied by the suffering that only genius enjoys. Those days are gone. In our time, writing, as magical as ever, is available to everyone. Texts can be better or worse, more or less praised or popular, but the process of writing itself-writing as discovery, writing as spiritual practice-is now open to any of us who feel the call.

Which brings me to the book you now have in your hands. Strictly speaking, this isn't a book-it's a beautiful, quiet path into the deep woods of contemplative practice through the medium of the written word. Yes, reading its chapters will delight you. Yes, listening to these two wise women talk quietly about their lives and their writing process is a sweet and effortless reading experience that will make you feel as if you are sitting across from them, a cup of tea in front of you, hearing the measure and lilt of their kindly, honest voices. But the real crux of this book/path isn't their words-it's yours. Each chapter concludes with two sets of exercises-contemplative (the bell) and writing (the pen). The contemplative practices will bring you back to quiet, to yourself. And the writing practices will bring you to your senses, to your intimate, inmost experience. Simply reading this text as if it were a book won't nearly be enough. You must do the exercises, you must spend time, plenty of time, maybe years, and you must, even better, spend some of that time with others, writing together, reading together, talking together about what you've read and written. This will, inevitably, bring you to a much deeper appreciation of the mystery you are, that you will never give up trying to understand. Thank you, Holly and Brenda, for so thoughtfully facilitating this endless journey.

Norman Fischer, author of Sailing Home: Using the Wisdom of Homer's Odyssey to Navigate Life's Perils and Pitfalls

"The Pen and the Bell: Mindful Writing in a Busy World is a needed reminder that to be fully alive and alert is a prerequisite to writing well. Brenda Miller and Holly Hughes are the perfect guides for helping us all slow down and see the world around us. What a wise, warm, wonderful book!"

—Dinty W. Moore, author of The Mindful Writer

"Strictly speaking, this isn't a book-it's a beautiful, quiet path into the deep woods of contemplative practice through the medium of the written word."

—Roshi Norman Fisher, from the Foreword to The Pen and the Bell

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