“. . . the intellect is a great danger to creativity . . . because you begin to rationalize and make up reasons for things, instead of staying with your own basic truth — who you are, what you are, what you want to be. I’ve had a sign over my typewriter for over 25 years now, which reads ‘Don’t think!‘ You must never think at the typewriter — you must feel. Your intellect is always buried in that feeling anyway.” – Ray Bradbury
In addition to the vast disconnect many people have with the world around them, there is also a disconnect from the self which is perpetuated by the multitude of distractions man has created for the purpose of keeping the conscious self from delving into the unconscious, into the subtle body, into one’s feelings.
Back in 1923, Aldous Huxley alluded to those distractions when he wrote, “There are quiet places in the mind, but we build bandstands and factories on them. . . . to put a stop to the quietness . . . All the thoughts, all the preoccupations in my head–round and round, continually . . . To put an end to the quiet.”
Huxley suggests that it’s not just part of the human condition to have obstacles to overcome, but that we also create them so as to divert our focus. So as to keep ourselves out of the quiet, out of stillness, which is, of course, exactly where the writer must go.
Those defense mechanisms are often set up to keep you away from your emotions, which, as Bradbury states, is a problem if you want to be creative. Yoga offers you a way out of your head, so to speak, a way to pull back from those preoccupations that go round and round, and a way back in – through the body – to your unconscious mind, to your feelings, to the very place where art is created.
Yoga is trendy these days. You can find at least one class of some sort in most communities: often in an assortment of styles and flavors, not to mention a variety of settings from strip malls to churches to dance studios, from fitness facilities to board rooms to classrooms. To some, yoga may possess a “new age” quality – perhaps due to it’s ability to help one reconnect with oneself – mind, body, and emotion – yet it is an art and a philosophy that has been practiced and espoused for thousands of years. So, you could say, it’s a rather ancient trend.
Believe it or not, even if you can’t quite reach your toes, even if you haven’t seen them in decades, a little time on the mat can help you get to the page. And it can also potentially help you transform the white space into something more, to imbue all the possibility you find there with some essential part of yourself.
Writing is an extremely rewarding endeavor, not because it isn’t work, but because it is the sort of work that brings the writer closer to her true self. She turns inward, away from the ubiquitous distractions of the world, but also away from those in her own mind.
She dives down to the darkest depths where imagination and memory spark, where her conscious focus blends with her unconscious subtle body, and she explores that part of herself she could not otherwise see except in the special light of those sparks.
This is, at times, daunting, yet also quite wonderful, especially if she is able to dive when and how she chooses.
If you develop a separate yoga practice, you’re likely to experience the positive physical, mental, and emotional effects of your yoga sessions as they carry over into your writing sessions. But if you intimately and intentionally join the two, if you unite them into one practice, the results can be remarkable.
And that’s one of the things about the retreat that I enjoy most. Showing writers how to do specific yoga sequences as part of their daily writing practice, as a prelude to the writing – whenever they might lack inspiration, or as a way back into that part of the self from which the stories are to be mined.
Depending on your specific writing intention, you can customize the sequence of poses to quiet your mind, to tap into your emotions, to slip out of the conscious mind and into the unconscious, into a creative flow.
“If there is no feeling, there cannot be great art.” – Bradbury
Huxley, Aldous, Antic Hay, London: Chatto & Windus, 1923, 123.