Tag Archives: writing and yoga

An Alternative Way to Check In On Your Writing Process

I do yoga once a week with my best friend. She comes to my house, we drink coffee and catch up on what’s going on with each other since last week, and then we do something called “The Five Tibetans” and a couple of other yoga poses that we like. We’ve been doing this for years, and whenever we have to skip a week I sorely miss it. I can’t swear it’s not the coffee and chat I miss more though. Nevertheless, the fourth pose in the series has caused me severe distress because I just. can’t. do it. Being the committed, extreme athlete that I am (I’m not) I choose to sit that one out. What I do instead is a few minutes of meditation, which is just about all my ADD and I can muster. And I have to really focus on something during meditation, otherwise it’s just me sitting there and perseverating on my to-do list or worrying about my life or the fate of the planet. So for my meditation I check in with my chakras. Yup, I do!Untitled35-e1393064216549

I’m not evenly remotely an expert or a yogi or anything like that, and this blog is intended for writers, so my intention is only to share my thought process and my own personal weekly meditation. So please don’t interpret this as anything other than that. Why I thought to share is because often I apply this meditation to check in with what I’m writing. I know, I know, you’re probably like, “What is she even talking about?!” I know you can’t close your eyes and do this with me, because then how would you be reading this??? but try to follow… I’ll tell you approximately where each chakra is located, my understanding of what it’s related to, and then how I apply it to looking at writing.

I sit comfortably, cross legged and relaxed, with my hands placed palm up on my knees. Take a deep breath in and then I relax my shoulders (because they’re always tense). To “check in” with each chakra I visualize its approximate location on my body, and imagine taking a breath in and out of that spot. I’ll share some of the questions I ask myself as I locate each spot. And remember, these are just my interpretations!

The first chakra is located at the base of the spine, like near the coccyx bone. It’s the root chakra, the foundation. So I ask: what is the fundamental basis of what I’m writing? What foundation does this story rest on?

The second chakra is the sacral chakra, basically in the area of the ovaries for women, testes for men, and I relate it to creativity. Am I allowing my creative impulses free reign? Am I allowing myself to experience pleasure in the writing process?

The third chakra is the solar plexus chakra, located between the bellybutton and diaphragm, and it’s where personal power resides so where I place both strength and anxiety. Am I being powerful in my writing? Am I being fearless or shying away from what I’m trying to say?

The fourth chakra is the heart chakra, and of course is located in the chest. Am I being passionate in my writing? Is my writing heartfelt? Am I communicating emotional truth in my characters? Am I writing in an accessible way for readers to connect?

The fifth chakra is located at the throat, like just below where the Adam’s apple is, and it relates to communication and expression. Am I attending to voice? Is the voice distinctive? Is my dialogue authentic?

The sixth chakra is the third eye chakra, between the eyebrows, and correlates to intuition and clarity. Am I staying true to my vision for this work? Does my story work on all levels?

The seventh chakra is the crown chakra, at the top of the head, and is related to universal consciousness or connection to spirit. Am I allowing my story to come through me from unknown sources? Am I open to the unexpected or unmapped to occur?

stencil_peace_heartfOk, that’s it. Don’t judge me. I know I’m a hippy weirdo. But I totally dig doing this and I invite you to try it. Let me know how it goes…

Peace out,

Linda

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Writing and Yoga Retreat: Yes, You Do Wish You Had Been There

yoga-positions_b4syex5vrkMy colleague Stefanie Lipsey and I had dreamed of putting on a writing and Yoga retreat for many years. This past weekend was the manifestation of that dream as we  hosted the Writing Yoga®Retreat at The Glen Cove Mansion, and it was absolutely magical. Over the weekend I may have joked around a bit about my tumultuous relationship with doing Yoga (especially the early morning classes, which I invariably skipped). But I think it was apparent to the participants how much the planning and creation of the weekend, as well as the writing exercises that we did, and the “where we were standing” for the weekend, were all based in Yoga practice.

We asked the participants to look within, to look for balance, to stretch themselves, to trust themselves, to go places they might not have thought to go (or even places they just might not have been willing to go). We asked them to do this in their writing and in their Yoga practice. Even if some people didn’t go to the Yoga classes, physically putting their bodies on the mats, they absolutely had the experience of participating in a Writing Yoga® weekend.

Yoga is the cultivation of your mind using a succession of steps such as meditation and contemplation and we certainly all did that this past weekend. Yoga is really a generic term for the physical, mental and spiritual practices one may undertake towards attaining a state of permanent peace. As writers, I think it sometimes feels as if we’ll never really attain permanent peace. Maybe as creators of fictional realities and characters and worlds we don’t even want to attain permanent peace! But I think that by looking at our writing through the lens of Yoga, which is what Writing Yoga® is, that we can get a little bit closer to that peace. One of the Yoga sutras (or aphorisms) define Yoga as “the stilling of the changing states of the mind.” I just love that. I experienced moments of that this weekend, in relation to my own writing as well as in running the retreat.

Our intention was to have the weekend be a nurturing and safe place for the participants in regard to their writing; in relation to doing or not doing the physical Yoga; in their exploration of voice, character and setting; and in the sharing of their work. I’m pretty sure we manifested that intention, and Stefanie and I very much look forward to doing it again next summer! And yes, I believe the air was quite full of fairy dust for three days!

Make sure to stop by Stefanie’s Writing Yoga® blog, a place for ideas and inspiration about writing and yoga, and starting this fall you can also stop by her Soundcliff Writing Spa page, a writing and creativity community where free writing inspiration is delivered weekly.

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For Writers: How to Take Your Character on Vacation

stef-pictureI want to give you all a little tasty morsel of the juicyness of my buddy Stefanie Lipsey’s style of inspiring writers… We are co-hosting the Writing and  Yoga Retreat 2013 at The Glen Cove Mansion next week (for those of you who are living under a rock or really haven’t been paying attention to anything I’ve been saying.) So after yoga, where we’ll stretch our bodies and spirits, and after a delicious breakfast (which hopefully we’ll be able to eat al fresco, weather depending), we’ll head into a morning writing workshop. We’re going to focus on Character, Voice and Setting at the retreat, and we’ll be doing that in many ways. For now though, here’s a sample of one of Stefanie’s Writing Yoga writing prompts, this one about character, which Stefanie gives away to her blog subscribers…

Packing for Two: You and Your Character on Vacation

(Summer Writing Prompt by Stefanie Lipsey)

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I’m not going to buy her a plane ticket, but I’m taking her hiking in the desert. She has a secret desire to become an archeologist, and thinks that she might stumble upon ancient ruins at the airport in Albuquerque. I don’t have the heart to tell her she should start with an Archeology 101 class at Nassau Community College before she quits her day job at the mall.

So that’s a bit about Julissa, the main character of a novel I’m just about done revising. I know she’s made up, but we’ve been hanging out together for twenty years and she still surprises me. Keep surprising me, Julissa, because as Robert Frost said, “No surprise for the writer, no surprise for the reader.”

Take your character on vacation. When you order lunch, what does she eat?  Is her nasty shellfish allergy going to put her in a state of anaphylaxis?  Is she a pleasant traveler or does she scream, “We’re gonna die!” at every bout of turbulence? Write in detail about the experience, but do not include any judgement. Just the facts.

Take a break. Don’t be so hard on yourself. It’s summer. Now is the perfect time to read a great book, swim under the hot sun, take long walks and rejuvenate. Go on a retreat. It’s a gift you deserve. No guilt allowed!

So, if you haven’t done so already, invite your characters to join us next week on the Writing and Yoga Retreat! I just got a new bathing suit for the hot tub… I mean, I’ve been sharpening my pencils and limbering my yoga poses! (…and looking forward to martinis in the pub!)

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