Writing, Yoga, Meditation, Retreats and SEL Professional Development
I was in a castle. The castle was in the clouds. I stood under the giant’s table listening to the song of the harp and the sound of golden eggs dropping from a hen.
When was the last time you suspended belief and stepped into a fairy tale?
At The Broad art museum in Los Angeles last week, I walked under a table and all I could think about was Jack and the Beanstalk. I remember being a kid and sitting under the dining room table pretending it was a gingerbread house in the woods or a castle in the sky.
The artist, Robert Therrien, seems to want us to remember having that experience of living in the possibilities of the imagination. It worked.
Write about a setting from the point of view of a child. Pick a piece of furniture or object from your childhood. Crawl into a space that you would be too large for now. What does the world look like from there? How does it feel to be so small?
Check out “Under the Table” by Robert Therrien here: ...
Nothing like a bee sting to interrupt your Zen.
I raise my hand in the lawn for a seated twisted yoga pose. My waist is wrung out like a wet rag. I think I’m so graceful, my fingers reaching for sky. My arm moves in slow motion toward the grass. I’m fully in the moment, describing the pose to my students step-by-step. The gaze comes last and with my head and neck aligned with the spine there is no reason to look down.
When my hand reaches the earth, it meets a bee. I’m stung. My yogi mind observes. It says, “You have been stung by a bee.” Yes, I have been stung, it hurts, and the class remains centered in the pose while I look down at my swollen finger and continue to cue.
It’s near the end of class and my non-yogi mind says, “Run! Get ice. Get Benadryl. Your throat will close. You will go into shock. You will die.”
We finish class. I ice my hand. I’m calm and surprised to be alive.
Have you ever been stung? I have...
It wasn’t the golden trimmings or the opulence of the mansion that struck me. It was the child strapped between roots, light hitting just the right way to reveal what nature had tried to hide.
The Banyan tree took over, growth by growth. A statue of a child is hidden inside it, on an estate that was made to look like Venice, Italy in Southwest Florida. Such is America.
Ringling (aka Ringling Bros. Circus) was a walking circus. His home has that clown-like feeling, creepy and disturbing, but mesmerizing.
What is the creepiest thing you ever saw? Did you ever visit a place and not even care what the brochure had to say? Did you ever find your own circus? This week’s prompt is dedicated to all the creepy things found in unlikely places. Write about what that means to you in the past, present or future. Or you can tell the story of this child who has been stuck in a tree for decades.
Nothing great can happen in life without imagination and intention. Yogis know this. We set an intention for the hour or so that we clear our minds and move our bodies. Do writers do the same thing? Do you?
I’m just returning from a wonderfully overwhelming trip to Los Angeles that ended with the AWP conference. It was an incredible opportunity to see some of my favorite teachers, writers, poets and friends. Yoga was offered each morning by Melissa Carroll, a writer, yoga teacher and author of the anthology, Going Om. Just by showing up to class, all the writers in the room had set an intention to remain calm, healthy, open, and strong in the middle of sharing space with 10,000 other writers.
You can set an intention for anything you do. Before leaving New York, I set an intention and dreamed it into being.
So the truth is that writers do write and meditate on their intentions. Take this page from Octavia Butler’s notebook. (...
Running late! I decide at the last minute that the black pumps might not be so comfortable for walking around the city. I change shoes and head out the door. I pick up my friends for our last minute plan to see my musician husband play a private concert in the Gramercy Park area of Manhattan. It will be a major event. I feel dressed up (even though I need to put a little make-up on when I get on the train) and am looking forward to music and an elegant dinner.
We get to the train station just in time. I’m putting money in the muni-meter and my friend says, “Stefanie, you’re wearing two different boots!”
What? I look down. Yep, I’m wearing two different boots! If I go home, I’ll be late. If I stop at a store to quickly buy a pair of shoes, I’ll be late. So here’s what I do: I give up all my perfectionist instincts and pose for a picture.
Clearly I need to 1) be more mindful 2) organize my closet and 3) change my...
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.