Lotus blossom in The Fountain of the Four Evangelists (Mission San Juan Capistrano)
Thank you, Megan Lurie McCarver, for this beautiful parable. It's a glowing candle at my writing desk, gently guiding me forward.
I took this photo at Roger's Gardens. More on that adventure in an upcoming entry…
A more enlightened person might have noted this without judgment., would've moved in gentleness from "what is" to "what will be." But I'm a work in progress, so I admit to thrashing around a bit before finding my way back to the yoga studio.
Life isn't an all-or-nothing experience, is it? I'm learning that anew everyday, in all aspects of my existence.
When I invite authors into The Authors’ Tent, I frequently ask about their writing routines. Turnabout is fair play, of course, so at the risk of sounding presumptuous (I’m unpublished…), here are some of the rituals I’ve incorporated into my own writing practice:
1, Clearing the Air. While I’m drinking my coffee, I burn a palo santo stick or light a candle under a small bowl of essential oil–infused water. As the smoke tendrils waft across my desk, I allow my morning mind to wander.
Some people draw inspiration and healing from special fragrances; others scoff and say that aromatherapy’s pure bunk. I say: Whatever works.
2. Bringing Light into my work space. When I flip the switch on my Buddha lamp, I pray that my story will reflect my own inner Light. He sits on the credenza beneath my office window, so whenever my eyes drift away from my my manuscript, I’m looking serenity in the face.
(It could be any light, really, but I love my smiling Buddha. He has a blissful face and prayerful hands, which speaks to me of contentment and inner peace.)
(Let me know if you want me to pick a card for you today…)
4. Practicing yoga. I’m not as consistent as I’d like to be. But when I allow time for yoga in the morning, I find it easier to stay centered throughout the day. It also replenishes my energy (in all senses of that word), which translates itself into vigorous, authentic writing.
5. Connecting with my friends. Last, but certainly not least, I spend a little time on LiveJournal almost every morning, and at random points throughout the day. I realize that some people consider blogging a colossal waste of time, but I consider it a priceless opportunity to learn from (and grow alongside) good-hearted, talented people.
So I’m wondering…what gets you started in the morning, and what keeps you going throughout the day?
GRAPEMO: An opportunity to lift ourselves up collectively, and for each of us to move closer to our own dreams. For the as-yet-unitiated, this brainchild of Jeannine Garsee (aka onegrapeshy) is an annual event. It runs from February 1st through February 28th, which means we start today!
I’ve established an ambitious goal, at least by my own standards. And if past is prologue, you might think I’m setting myself up for disappointment. But I’m seeing this as yet another opportunity to teach myself new lessons–patience, acceptance, and persistence among them. Tomorrow will take care of itself. March 1st will come soon enough. I’m learning to focus my energies on the here and now.
With that in mind, I hereby give myself permission to observe without judgment, to honor my potential, and to stretch and breathe my way into a deeper writing practice. It’s not about win or lose or compromises. It’s about living each moment in JOY.
P.S. I’m in awe of those who’ve taken a vow of Internet abstinence for the month of February. I can see how it might inspire you to be more productive, and I wish you all the best. But as for me…well, I’d be lonely without my online friends. I thrive on our connections, and I count on your writerly wisdom. Again, it’s all about seeking balance, and I love that we help each other stay upright. xo
For me, Creative Journaling is one way to tame Monkey Mind. First, the very act of creation is soothing, relaxing. It brings me back to the breath. As I choose background colors and border images, my subconscious musings often make themselves apparent. And in the process, I move past Monkey Mind to Neutral Witness.
Consider this journal page, as yet unfinished, which we used as an example of bordering in our recent workshop. Perhaps the images have no meaning for you. Maybe you’d choose different colors or arrange the objects differently. But I’m learning to look beyond the page itself–to find joy in the process, and to explore its possibilities without judgment. What will I write in that empty space? What new discoveries will emerge? As I pick out my gel pens and Sharpies, I’m at once curious and excited.
P.S. Don’t miss Staci’s post about lettering!
I’m leaving today for a yoga retreat in the Land of Medicine Buddha–gonna shed the cares of the world and get my Om on.
I’m grateful for the opportunity to extend my yoga practice in such a gorgeous setting. Beyond the obvious pampering, I find deeper, more spiritual reasons for doing yoga:
[Yoga] means ‘union’ and that the practice of yoga unites body, breath, and mind, lower and higher energy centers and, ultimately self and God, or higher Self. But more broadly, yoga directs our attention to the unity or oneness that underlies our fragmented experiences and equally fragmented world. (Yoga Journal, May/June 1984, p. 4)
Interpreting yoga as a gathering place—it’s a very cool concept, don’t you think? Plus, I’m meeting up with long-time friends. In between our yoga and meditation sessions, we’ll catch up with each other on long hikes among the redwoods. Nirvana!
Namaste, my friends. I’ll be happy to see you again next week.
I went to yoga class yesterday, to try to smooth out all the tensions that developed while I was away from my regular routine. Due to scheduling issues, I ended up in an ashtanga yoga class–way more intense than the classes I usually attend, and full of unfamiliar asanas (aka headstands and other upside-down poses). Shortly after the class began, I was feeling somewhat like that creature in Kafka’s Metamorphosis–out of sorts and inept. "I’m so not good at this," I told myself, as I toppled over for the umpteenth time.
God help me, I so wanted to quit! But the teacher kept inviting me to reposition myself and try again. And then, a voice spoke from somewhere deep inside, repeating of my favorite mantras, "Be the neutral witness, discerning without judgment." I won’t say I transformed immediately. I won’t say the poses came easily. But as I swatted away the inner chatter, I felt the knots begin to untangle, and my body eventually elevated itself into the correct position. Ong namo, guru dev namo. I bow to the teacher within.
I’m thinking about the lessons I learned in that yoga class and how I can apply them to my writing. After several weeks away from the keyboard, I’m a distance from my manuscript. I’m struggling to reacquaint myself with my writer’s voice, to find my place again on the page. I’m knotted up especially about how to approach the modern-day Nancy Drew segments–how shall I weave them into the past-tense story? Before I can move forward, I need to recenter myself. So I’m encouraging myself to breathe in awareness and acceptance of where I am now, releasing all judgments so I can relax and play.
Namaste, my friends. Here’s to another day of stretching toward the Light. xo
Around the same time I kicked my writing routine into high gear, I also ratcheted up my exercise regimen. I’d been using the Precor five times a week and practicing yoga, but I switched two machine workouts for a couple of hard-core spin classes.
As with my yoga teacher, I’m drawing inspiration from my spin instructor. Here, for instance, are some coaching tips I remember. I think they work equally well for other aspects of our lives, including writing — mixed and matched, of course, to our own goals and abilities:
You can do this! Draw on the strength you have in your core.
Get up, up, up out of the saddle! Make the rest of your body work as hard as your legs.
Don’t underestimate yourself – keep pushing!
Dial back the tension if you need to, but don’t stop unless you have to.
When you lean too hard on the handlebars, you decrease your energy output.
Let the music help you keep a steady pace.
What life (or writing) lessons have you learned while working out?