Writing, Yoga, Meditation, Retreats and SEL Professional Development
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...
All I wanted was a week to write without getting up to walk the dogs, sit in traffic, clean the kitchen, or answer the phone. I had work to do and it wasn’t getting done. A writer friend told me about AROHO (A Room of Her own). She said it was a writing organization for women and that I should apply for their retreat on Georgia O’Keefe’s “Ghost Ranch” in New Mexico. It sounded fantastic. It was fantastic. I didn’t know that it would change my life.
It has been over one month since I left the desert but I’m still adjusting. It’s a good life here in NY, but I miss sunset colored mountains and breathing in readings and workshops all day long. I bonded with more women in one week than I had during the past decade. If you met them, you would see how such a thing can be possible. We were in synch.
I took a small group poetry workshop with Evie Shockley. I’m a fan, so of course it was very...
In honor of National Novel Writing Month, we have a terrific guest blogger! Enjoy some wisdom from writer and yoga instructor, Barbara Joy Beatus, and good luck to everyone who is writing 50,000 for NaNoWriMo. – S. Lipsey