Hi, I'm Tünde. Dee for short.
I help people uncover their innate wisdom, creativity and self-compassion through contemplative writing, a powerful writing practice grounded in mindfulness meditation.
For over 30 years, I’ve helped people learn about writing, in small group settings and individual coaching sessions.
I’ve worked with words my whole life, as a writer, editor, student of literature and teacher of writing. I’ve written and/or edited everything from technical reports, audit reports, medical textbooks and computer manuals to poetry, short fiction and creative non-fiction.
Your attitude is the medicine I needed.
Your loving sure-footedness helped me map the path I want to create so my reader feels welcome. Where my writing had leapt in and out of hiding, you brought the real me out to dance the path into existence, reassuring this writer and my readers alike: we know the way home.
From shame. Into love.
When I began leading workshops in contemplative writing -- or mindful writing -- in 2016, it was a revelation and a game changer. I'd been practising mindfulness meditation using Buddhist teachings for some years by then, but hadn't experienced the contemplative arts until the winter of 2016.
First I began learning about contemplative flower arranging, becoming part of the rotation of flower arrangers at the Shambhala Buddhist Centre in West Palm Beach, where I had just begun attending group sitting and taking meditation classes. That spring, I took part in a weekend of contemplative photography, called Nalanda Miksang, with Miriam Hall, who taught not only Miksang but also contemplative writing, and who was to become my mentor and dear friend.
The first writing workshop I led at that Buddhist centre was totally seat-of-the-pants. I had no idea what I was doing. I'd agreed to lead the workshop in a fit of optimism that faded quickly, but I was nonetheless determined to follow through. After all, I’d made a commitment, and anyway, how hard could it be? I'd taught first-year essay writing classes! Government auditing teams! Way more scary.
Or maybe not. By the time of the Miksang retreat, I was nearing panic, but Miriam was so reassuring, warm and incredibly generous in sharing her wisdom, tips and resources that I managed to learn just enough just in time to lead the workshop.
I finally got to study contemplative writing with Miriam that fall, beginning my own training in earnest. I'm still part of that same group that started all those years ago.
Miriam also became a mentor to me in autumn 2016. She coached me in creating a writing life for myself, always with the utmost gentle compassion. She coached me in teaching practice as well, not only explicitly, but also simply by example. I still pay close attention to what Miriam does, how she handles various situations in classes and retreats, and how she holds herself in order to maintain a safe container for class participants.
Miriam herself had studied with Paula Novotnak, whose "Writing from the Center" classes included meditation practice, and later with Natalie Goldberg, whose landmark work Writing Down the Bones is the foundation for my own practice. Miriam's teaching draws on what she’s learned from both of them, and mine draws on Miriam's. When I asked Miriam if it was okay for me to teach using her practices and methods, she said yes, assuring me that we all stand on somebody’s shoulders and that I had become part of the lineage of women who dive deep to meet their writing where it lives. Remembering that moment still makes me smile with the sensation of warm love it always brings me.
I’m now privileged to be sharing these teachings with students of my own. I’ve learned that we each bring our own flavour to the practice, but the foundation is unshakable: writing can be a practice just as meditation is a practice. We practise the way athletes practise. You wouldn’t dream of running a marathon without building up your running muscles first. The same applies to writing.
So how has this been a game-changer for me? How has contemplative writing changed my life?
The practice itself involves accepting all parts of yourself on the page. I've learned to accept that sometimes my writing is luminous and sometimes mind-numbingly boring. I've learned to see that both are okay. Anything is okay to bring to the page. In fact, it's encouraged. On the page, I can be happy, sad, angry, annoyed, inspired, fearful, repetitive, brilliant.
I've slowly come to understand that it's not just on the page that I can allow myself to show up as I am.
It also involves accepting your process, whatever it is. I can write regularly or sporadically. I can write for five minutes or two hours. I can write whether I feel like it or not. Or I can indulge the whiny little voice that says, "Nah, I don't wanna." All of that is also okay.
Here's the transformational part: this acceptance has soaked through into other parts of my life. I've slowly come to understand that how I show up in my writing is how I show up in other parts of my life. I've slowly come to see that how I show up in life is also acceptable.
This radical self-acceptance has brought me more peace than I imagined possible. It's helped me navigate a new diagnosis of ADHD, which opened up a can of worms I hadn't been prepared for. It's helping me navigate a whole series of life changes, big and small, in ways that are more centred, more grounded, more resilient than I've ever been before.
In my life as in my writing practice, I've been learning to go easier on myself, forgive myself when I mess up, let go of things more quickly -- things I used to dwell on forever. I've learned to talk to myself more kindly, just as I would to my very best friend. I've also learned to hold myself accountable without beating myself up.
I'm passionate about this practice because it's done so much for me. I also know so many others who have benefitted from this practice, some who have used it as the foundation for writing poetry, fiction and nonfiction of all kinds.
I hope that by sharing what I've experienced in a way that allows you to experience something too, I can open a door that you may not have known was there. Whether you choose to walk through it is out of my control, but I can point the way. If you do choose to go through the door, what you find on the other side will be an experience that's uniquely yours, but you don't have to go through it alone. It's better with company.
So come on in. I'll put the kettle on.
Wow, you're still here! Just for you, then, some formal credentials.
B.A. in English
M.A. in Canadian Studies/Women's Studies
Certificate in Adult Education
St. Francis Xavier University
University of Ottawa, Algonquin College:
Coached post-secondary students with learning difficulties and with ADHD, to help with writing essays.
Canadian federal government:
Taught business writing and report writing to public servants, including internal auditors and program evaluation officers.