I keep trying to write this in a more interesting way, but here is what it comes down to: I started practicing yoga this year as I have many times before and last month started taking it more seriously. I started attending classes more regularly with the studio I have a membership with and I began the 30 Days of Yoga series on the Yoga With Adriene youtube channel. The reasons for starting it were multiple: I want to get in to better shape; Yoga and meditation has helped me with anxiety in the past and I would like to start using it again;Yoga has helped rehab my body more than anything else after my many medical issues flare up; Yoga lets me quiet my mind.
The list goes on and on, but once I started taking it more seriously as one might expect I started noticing some surprising changes with myself. I started valuing quiet time in my head more. I started realizing how important investing the time with my mat was for myself because it could be for no one but me. I also was surprised by how much of what I heard from my yoga teachers were echoed in a writing workshop I attended, conversations about mental health, and sentiments in my creative community. They all linked together, and I wanted to share some of these things that seemed to bridge the gap.
One of my favorite instructors talks a lot about letting go of mind chatter, and giving the monkey brain something to focus on like your breathing, letting the to do lists sit off to the side until after your practice is finished for the day. Focusing on what I am doing in one moment has always been hard for me. Writing helps to focus me, and finding ways to clear distractions and focus my mind has been absolutely paramount in me making progress towards my major writing goals and I have had more than a few conversations about how to limit distractions during writing sessions. Turning off my wi fi, finding the right music, closing my door, it all goes in to me finding ways to let the brain chatter go and focus, and my yoga practice very often helps provide me with tools to do so. My writing also gives me a place for my monkey brain to focus if it needs a rubix cube problem to play with.
I almost burst out laughing the first time I heard this come from my 30 Days of Yoga video. This sentiment has been said over and over and over by my creative community for a variety of reasons. In yoga, staying curious speaks to the idea of seeing where your body
and mind can go today that it couldn’t yesterday; to checking out the balance pose that you were eyeing, seeing if you can hold that pose a little longer, see if you can let the mind chatter go a little bit more completely. It speaks to looking in to the crevices of your practice and seeing where you can expand and learn. As a creator, staying curious keeps you moving, keeps you interested, always looking for something new and as a writer it keeps you in a constant and honest dialogue with your characters. Would they go there? Would they fight for that? What if the dragon came up from behind them instead of in front?
Find What Feels Good/Sensation not Destination
I can’t tell you how many times I have heard these two phrases repeated like a mantra in my classes. They seemed kind of silly the first time I heard them because I am frankly very cynical and used to be far more so but the more I heard it the more I thought why I thought it was so silly. In yoga it is very literal. Don’t push your body in to a pose that it isn’t ready for yet, and enjoy the feeling of being where you are. I have spent a lot of time looking forward and trying to figure out how to get to the next step, to the point of tripping over the one that I’m standing on. Over the last year I have worked to let go of my conception of what I “should” be doing or where I “should” be and have focused far more on whether I am happy with what I am doing right now. I focused on the sensation not the destination. I did laugh when I realized that one. I am also a big proponent of do what you love. Find what feels good.
I was an athlete for roughly thirteen years and I’m still surprised at the correlations I find between physical practice and my creative and mental health endeavors. Have you found any correlations, things that cross those boundaries in our own life? Do you think that I’m totally off my rocker? What’s your experience with having the cross-life inspiration?