Take a Deep Breath

In Coaching the Artist Within, Eric Maisel explains:

“[…] you must learn how to achieve a calm, centered presence even though you are feeling scattered, rushed, worried, depressed, anxious, or otherwise off-kilter. How can you pull off this feat? One way is by learning the technique I’m presenting in this chapter, which I call the Centering Sequence.”

The sequence requires six breaths for the duration of six thoughts, for one minute before any creative undertaking. Probably not a bad idea. But what I found most compelling and bizarre about his explanation of this technique was the list of  “practice phrases” one might use while testing out the whole breathing-through-a-thought-phrase-thing. I mean…Just…Why? Why are these the examples?

“For practice,” he writes, “break up the following phrases so that they naturally fill one long, deep breath:

 ‘a meal with my brother John’

‘a special meal with my brother John’

‘a very special meal with my brother John’

‘I am an artist’

‘Paris, France’


 ‘I am perfectly fine’

‘two toads and an alligator’

 If you like Massel’s idea, start your process by coming up with your own long-deep-breath-thoughts, and use any one of them as a prompt. Or, incorporate one or more of Massel’s bizarre sample phrases into your writing. Think “John the alligator, party of two?” (with a thick French accent)