People often ask me, “What is this Writing Yoga thing?” Here’s the short answer: It’s alchemy. True Alchemy. It turns paper to gold. Well, not literally, but it’s my unscientific opinion that there’s a profound chemical reaction charging up your body and brain when you put these two ancient disciplines together!
My friend, Linda Epstein (literary agent and fabulously entertaining blogger), and I co-facilitate a Writing Yoga® Retreat at the Glen Cove Mansion every summer. We thought it might be fun for our readers if we blogged on the same day about the REAL retreat experience. So let me be your virtual tour guide through the TOP 10 reasons why you need a Writing Yoga® retreat:
What does it mean to be an expert?
It feels much better to be an expert at something than to sit in a room and feel completely lost, but being “lost” can be just the thing we need to grow. Take some time today to get to know the expert in yourself and the expert inside people you know. Is there a particular yoga pose you want to master? Is there a topic that you want to know inside and out?
In this week’s writing prompt, we are exploring what it means to be “an expert.”
What steps will it take to arrive at mastery? One of the biggest lessons of working toward mastery is to realize that it’s okay to not be perfect at everything. There are plenty of experts you can call on. Think about the experts in your life. Who would you call….
If you want to write a book, lose weight, find a new job, move into a new home or invite anything wonderful and new into your life, you’ve got to start with gratitude. Don’t take my word for it. I certainly didn’t make this statement up. It’s universal law. You can find it repackaged in self-help books or written on thousand year scrolls. You can’t get what you think you want if you keep on knockin’ what you’ve got.
Can you live one full day under the gratitude umbrella? Can you do it for a weekend? Can you start now?
The answer is yes. Here’s How to Keep a Gratitude Journal:
1. WHERE —- Decide where to house your gratitude. You can buy a new journal just for the purpose of recording each day’s gifts. You can open a new file on your computer or simply turn to a page in your current journal and write, “Gratitude, Day 1” at the top of a blank page.
2. HOW —- Write for Five Minutes...
Wow! My head is spinning from the Dodge Poetry Festival this past weekend. So many incredibly brilliant poets who kept us thinking, moving, teary-eyed, inspired and falling even more deeply in love with the art of poetry.
The poet Alice Oswald who lives in Devon, England recited her poems from memory. She spoke about living in the English countryside where “there is the almost rude energy of the natural world.” She made buttercups seem erotic. Hmm. She also said that she is “taken by the moon and water because they both know how to change their form.” I have been devouring her book, Spacecraft Voyager 1.
And then there were poets whom I have been following and reading for years. Life on Mars by Tracy K. Smith is one of my favorite books of poetry ever. We were treated to new poems by Tracy too.
Today, as you sit to write, pull up an extra chair. Welcome your shadow. Good morning, shadow. I don’t like you. I don’t like what you say in public. I don’t like what you hide in private. I detest your habits, mannerisms, biting sarcastic tongue.
Look at the way it makes itself at home, slurps your tea and devours your lunch. What nerve! Your shadow will chew with its mouth open and spit all over your keyboard. It will make you angry. Hold it. Pause. Can you use that feeling (whatever ‘that feeling’ is) to generate a scene? Which story or poem of yours wants to meet the slob hogging up your chair? Name it. Write it. Now.
As a creative person with a busy life, where do you go to relax, unwind, and let ideas flow?
Practicing yoga on a paddleboard in the middle of the Long Island Sound is how my friend Michelle does it. It’s one thing for most of us just not fall off the board into the water, but moving through sun salutations, hanumanasana, and headstands is a whole other story.
It can be difficult to maintain steadiness during balancing poses in a yoga class, but what if there are waves moving you too? There is no wall to hold on to. There is no teacher in the room and no one next to you on your mat. It’s just you and the board. Somehow the flow of the water aligns with the water in your body and before you know it, you are balancing with the wild current.
Pete Vanderberg knows the sea and he knows his way around the page too. He writes about family, the Long Island beaches, and sailing, but there’s a flavor that comes from his experience serving in the US Navy that makes this book so unique.
Peter Vanderberg and I went to grad school together (disclaimer) and I have always loved these poems. It is wonderful to see them come alive in print. Weather-Eye is a physically beautiful book. It is a collaboration of paintings by his artist brother, James Vanderberg, and poems by Peter.
I am grateful that he is allowing me to share two favorites with you. Take this book with you to the beach this summer. It will change the way you see the tides.
Father with three sons in a sailboat,
minds’ eyes in four directions
until drawn in to a rope turned line
by his word & the bay beneath us.
Difference between a knot & tangle
is the knot will hold & easily...
I mistakenly thought my friend was taking pictures of her toes. She had her feet up on the front seat’s armrest and her phone held up to her face while she reclined in back. We were on a three hour car trip upstate and I was learning all about Snapchat.
Snapchat (for those of you who have been living under a rock like me) is an app where you can add filters to a photo of someone so that they look like a member of the band KISS or have a jaw that is wider than a face. You can add flowers and face paint.
My friend took this pink floral filter of me (above). I loved the flowers dancing over my head! It made me think of the day before our trip when we sat by the hotel pool at the place where I teach yoga. A guest came up to us and asked if we wanted to try his “color blind” glasses. Of course, we did.
The glasses made the trees greener and the sky bluer. The pale pink flowers were now fuchsia. I didn’t want to give the glasses back. But I did.
Now it is Monday,...
Nathaniel and Gil entered the stark warehouse below Canal Street; sage-scented fumes engulfed them and new age music droned. A hand-written placard listed all the sample sessions
“I’ll grab a shot of wheatgrass juice and check out Sufi dancing,” Gil said. “You can go for a chakra consultation.”
“What’s a chakra?” Nate asked.
“They come in many colors,” Gil said, walking away.
Before Nate could decide which session he’d tolerate, a woman with red bangs and toned arms handed him a mat. “Don’t be shy,” she said. “I’m Lulu. Welcome to yoga.”
Nathaniel noted her light brown complexion and a curl adhered to her forehead; some kind of green-and-black tattoo shimmied below her shoulder blade. He decided it was a large frog.
“I’m not a yoga guy,” he said, shrugging.
“Come on in. You’re on the path.” She smiled and held open...
Like the glowing match on its cover, Marie-Elizabeth Mali’s book, Steady, My Gaze, is spiritual chiaroscuro, a quiet conversation between light and darkness. Reading Steady, My Gaze, makes me feel as if I’m on retreat. I’m uplifted one moment, carried away in gorgeous imagery and masterful writing, and then slammed by reality in the next. Although, in these poems, the slamming is beautiful too.
“Silent Retreat,” The final section, is among my favorite. The words of Adyashanti, the retreat leader, are threaded throughout each poem. “The image you have of yourself/ is unworthy because it’s an image,/ unreal. You interpret it to mean/ you are unworthy, but it’s the image/ that’s unworthy, not you.” The next stanza is in the speaker’s voice, “Resonant body strings, our sitting/ thrums the room./ At the back of the hall, a toilet/ flushes like thunderclap.” Such is life; the...