Right after I finish this blog post (or maybe even before), I’m heading downtown to a 9am yoga class called “Flow,” which is sort of ironic since it usually interrupts my precious morning writing “flow.” I’ve written before about the Confidence of Quiet that spans both yoga and writing, but today I want to try and capture the commonalities between diving deep into body and mind.
For the first few minutes of class, I’m usually a bit out of sync; the people around me are just starting their day, while I’ve already logged a few hours of work. But we meet each other (and ourselves) where we are, and once we settle in it doesn’t matter what happened before class or what will happen afterward. “All that matters,” our teacher tells us, “is this breath.” As I focus on breathing and feeling rather than thinking and world-building, it’s like putting my head underwater; the shiny external distractions that pummel me the rest of the day are drowned out.
Besides a great physical workout that both strengthens and stretches, my focus is also stretched and strengthened by the chance to disappear into myself. I don’t worry about anything—what time it is, what’s coming next, who might be emailing me on this workday morning. When class is over, I come out of my trance wondering where I’ve been, and yet energized with ideas I didn’t even know I was thinking about. What a gift.
When I get back to my desk, writing also rewards that deep dive into the unknown. Exploring the hidden depths of a story means following trails that might not lead anywhere—or might just reveal a key conclusion. When I let my characters dig into their own feelings, it might be painful (for both of us), but it always leads to my best work.
Diving deep gets easier with practice. It’s almost as if I’ve grown gills that help me breathe in this strange underwater world, where all of life’s shiny distractions assume their proper perspective.
And now, if you’ll forgive me, it’s time for yoga class.
For more info or to join a class, visit The Island Heron.