In yoga class today, I fell out of Tree Pose about every 10 seconds. Our yoga instructor Jerry reminded us that yoga is a practice, not an achievement. It is highly unlikely I will ever achieve perfect balance in Tree Pose. I don’t expect to find the perfect balance in my writing life either.
Both yoga and writing require patience, focus and humility. In yoga, balance is not stillness; it is constant movement and adjustment to maintain a pose. Balance in a writer’s life is also a moving target. It employs a body and a brain at work in a complex environment that require deep awareness. Then when the precious muse shows up, time stands still and everything falls into perfect alignment—you are “in the flow.”
You don’t stay in the flow for long. Your spouse gets grumpy, your kids need attention your friends get snippy. The church needs a retreat speaker (and you are so well qualified) and the director of a board you sit on has a special project with your name written all over it.
So let go of the expectation that the day will come when you can close the door on the world and give yourself to your art. What’s closer to the truth is that you pour yourself out in your writing and in your life and then tap your spiritual resources for refilling.
As our ankles buckled and our arms flapped Jerry reminded us to hold compassion for ourselves. “What are your thoughts?” he asked. I observed my thoughts.
“I’m crappy at this,” the anterior cingulate cortex of my brain grimaced.
“Where’s your inner smile?” Jerry asked.
I straightened my spine, planted my heel firmly against my inner thigh, stretched my arms over my head, focused on a drishti on the ceiling and fluttered my fingers. “I’m a tree,” I thought. I relaxed my face into a smile. And for 15 seconds, I was a lovely birch rooted in the ground, swaying in the breeze.
Namaste, and happy writing!