Program Details

Sleight of Hand: Writing and the Mind

with Miriam Hall
March 16 / 10:00 AM - March 17 / 5:00 PM

Miriam Hall has the heart, head, and hands of writing practice, Study with her. —Natalie Goldberg

Miriam Hall on writing:

I have written and read since I was in primary school, when I learned that fiction could carry me away from difficult struggles at home. Poetry saved me from my father’s death in middle school, and plays softened the harsh realities of my high school experience.

But it wasn’t until after college that I discovered there was another way to approach writing. Writing not just for writing’s sake, not just as something to be edited, finished, published; writing also as a process, a practice. My first teacher, Paula Novotnak, taught me first and foremost that “Practice makes Practice, not Perfection.” She was the first person to create for me an environment of raw creativity I felt I could rely on, week after week, as a safe container for whatever needed to emerge. Learning to abide by the creative process, all of its ups and downs, resistance and flow, is essential if we want creativity to really work in our lives.


On this weekend retreat we will work with walking meditation, contemplative writing (writing and listening), and sitting meditation. The writing is on a theme, with guiding questions. The writing is without break and often subconscious. The second half is spent sharing and/or listening to each other. Creative writing and compassionate listening are inexorably linked, which becomes apparent to all who practise over time.
Compassion comes out of Buddhist teachings, but can apply to any religious belief or philosophical approach. It is a common core for all of us. All of our relationships, activities, creative or otherwise, need compassion in order to truly benefit the world. The practice of listening, being listened to, and reflecting back to each other is perilously rare in our modern world.

Through the mixture of practices of stillness and sharp awareness, our writing begins to sharpen and deepen, and, most importantly, we begin to connect with ourselves and each other as human beings with real hearts and real stories.

Miriam Hall has offered various forms of Contemplative Arts as a full-time occupation for seven years. Her mainstay is Writing Practice, or Contemplative Writing. She offers weekend retreats, week-to-week classes, and extended online classes for ongoing students who are living far away. She is an internationally recognized teacher, and increasingly published author. She is sought out for her kind manner, sharp awareness, and precise understanding of Buddhist teachings and the human condition. Miriam lives in Madison, WI, USA and also teaches Contemplative Photography (Miksang) within Shambhala. To learn more about her, explore her webpage, blog and flickr albums.

To register, please contact John McQuade.


Please note that this course will be held at Vintage Grounds
760 Bathurst St ( just south of Bloor)


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