I recently came across the writing prompt ‘small stones‘ via a podcast by Amy Palko, where she was talking about collecting small stones with her father over the month of December, and was then going to create a small stone cairn with what they had created. I was intrigued and really connected with the idea, and, as a lover of stones, and cairns, I had to investigate what she was talking about in more detail.
Small stones – tiny observational pieces of poetry or prose detailing something close at hand.
Cairn – ring of stones, stone circle
The idea is that you form one or few more sentences of observational writing. I have started writing a small stone every day to create a daily mindfulness writing ritual. What I found when I tried it, is that I became more observant, and noticed more about what was around me. I was using my senses, to make sense of the world, touch, taste, smell, hearing, sight. It helped me for those brief moments, to step outside of my conscious stream of thoughts of random nothingness and focus in on some detail of an object or experience. I felt myself slow down, take a pause, take a breath. A minutes respite, bliss. I felt more grateful for the world around me, I was open to new experiences and ideas. It felt like a form of mindfulness writing.
I started to notice the beauty around me, and also, things that would not necessarily be described as beautiful (such as death or decay) and yet had, for me, hidden depth, hidden beauty. This connected to an inner part of myself, the parts I hide away, reject or abandon as I don’t feel they are worthy enough, only highlighting there is more work to be done! I felt more open to exploring those parts of myself the more I wrote, like the observations created space for me, encouraged me to go deeper into myself as well as the external world and to learn more about myself.
On a practical note, it has really started to sharpen my observation skills, I’m keeping a notepad and pen whereever I go and jot things down now. Not just anything, but things I really take notice of, the little things, the things that move me or fascinate me enough to stop and look further.
The process of noticing the ‘small stone’ and writing it down is more important than the end resulting poem or prose. This is something that can feel liberating, there are no rules. I do go back and reflect on what I have written, and tweak it a bit if needed, but I do like to leave the conclusions to the reader.
Here is my small stone from early this morning as I stared out of my bedroom window.
pink skies, birds calling, frosty morning
If you would like to explore this type of writing more, give it a try for a few days, make space for it to form part of your daily writing or meditation. Let me know how you get on.