I started yoga practice in 1999, and have finally got to grips with a reasonable meditation practice too. Yoga particularly, can be likened to writing. The best way to gain flexibility and grow long, strong muscles is to exercise slowly and methodically. In each posture I extend my body to it’s maximum for that moment, then I rest in the position, breathe deeply, and allow the muscles to realise that’s there’s no need to panic, that they can relax too. Once this is achieved, I can move further into the posture until I reach the next point of resistance. Again, I pause, breathe and allow the body to adapt. I continue this until I am aware that no further stretch can happen that day. In this way I am able to focus completely on the present because of the concentration on breath and lightness required, so it is a meditative process.
Writing benefits from the same gentle, opening approach. I need to understand how creative I feel on any particular day. I start small, with reading my journal about my writing life, adding any new insights, perhaps watch an inspiring video on YouTube from a favourite author, or read some words of wisdom that speak to me. I might write a blog next, or a poem, or just play with sentences, explore some new words and add them to my notebook. Then I’ll re-read the last chapter I wrote to get into the zone, then write well into the next part before stopping. At this point I know whether it’s going to be a long day of flowing writing, or if I have to breathe and go for a walk. Sometimes the best thing for that day is just to walk and ponder characters. I might write a list of questions that my characters could answer so I can help understand their flaws, or objectives in the story. I might decide that place needs more definition and draw a map of what is in my head, or visit the area it’s set in either physically, or on the internet – write some more notes. Often, this gentle approach means I can go back to the writing and find a flow that previously wasn’t happening, because I’ve given my writing and imagination muscles time to relax and extend.
Trying to force the body or mind to function usually results in contraction and resistance. This gentle way of working tends more to opening, exploration, and productivity.
As the saying goes: ‘Strength in Softness’.