The Centered Writer

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leisure,men,persons,sports,yoga poses

(I did this today…not)

I haven’t mentioned this to you guys before but I’m taking classes to become a certified yoga instructor. I like yoga because I’m not one for doing hardcore muscle-ripping workouts plus I really enjoy the zen qualities of yoga – the balance it brings to mind, body and spirit.

I’m not sure how yoga will impact my writing, if at all, but I’m hoping it improves my concentration a little. I’m a huge fan of flash fiction and short stories, and I think one reason may be my short attention span when I read. I’m not ADD but I like getting right to the heart of a story, get in and get out. When I do read a longer work I find myself reading it so fast that I do more skimming than anything else. I do, however, have a novel I started writing. It’s in bits and pieces and I’d like to work on it again, but until I improve my concentration for longer works I’m not sure I see myself finishing it. I’ve also gotten addicted to the quick payoffย  flash and short fiction works offer. Maybe that’s okay. Maybe that’s what I should be writing if its what I truly enjoy and gravitate to.

A friend of mine recently decided, in his 40s, to try to improve his handwriting. He’s doing so in an effort to do more story writing longhand, legibly. If he can set out to improve a habit, an act, as second nature as his handwriting, then I can give myself a chance to see if yoga improves my ability to concentrate for the sake of finishing my novel. We never know what we’re capable of until we try, right?

In yoga, we practice meditation and so far I’m failing miserably to ’empty my mind.’ If I get 5-10 minutes of quiet time to meditate I’m either going to fall asleep or daydream about a story or character. I’m not one to pass up a good nap or a good daydream.

Do any of you practice yoga or some such similar exercise? Meditate? If so, do you think it helps you with your writing at all? This inquiring mind would love to know…

(Image courtesy of Microsoft ClipArt)

25 responses »

  1. I’ve been doing yoga for over ten years, but I don’t always enjoy it. Yet I make myself do it once or twice a week because the health benefits are many–better balance, healthier joints, increased flexibility, and, for some, a calming effect. I prefer power yoga so that I get toning benefits, too. Whether it improves my concentration, I can’t say. It clearly doesn’t while I’m doing it, because I often get bored. ๐Ÿ˜‰ But it’s good for these aging muscles and joints, so I plug away at it. And the stretching part does feel good. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Now that I’ve been a Debbie Downer, good luck with your certification! It really is a good thing you’re doing for your body, and probably your mind, too. ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. I don’t do yoga, but I do believe in routine to keep the words flowing. I have the morning stuff to do, then start around 10 in the morning, write until I get hungry, eat, then write until 3pm with the aim of at least 1k words a day even in 2nd draft. It keeps me moving and I’ve written 62k words of my WIP in a month. The second and third books are already plaguing me.

    • Routine is so important and thus far I haven’t been very good at keeping one. Maybe this is another area I can improve upon. With two kids running about this summer, routine has been elusive. Best wishes on your WIP ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. very interesting post – i hope you enjoy all of your experiences with Yoga and what it offers to your mind, body, and spirit. be patient, you’ll learn to relax without trying – we try to rush through competition, but you can’t rush creativity, or relaxation – that is why a majority lean on drugs and alcohol.

    i get high on creativity, on a poem, on a creative character, on beautiful prose….on life.

    *** *** *** *** ***
    There is magic within the silence of meditation, especially if you are a poet or creative writer, but you don’t have to be either.

    alpha rhythm, the normal electrical activity of the brain when conscious and relaxed, consisting of oscillations (alpha waves) with a frequency of 8 to 13 hertz.

    beta rhythm, the normal electrical activity of the brain when conscious and alert, consisting of oscillations (beta waves) with a frequency of 18 to 25 hertz.

    during mediation. when you stop fighting off the silence (we do this because we are afraid of losing control or think we might miss something) the rolling ocean waves of our thoughts flatten into a calm silence – within the silence, bubbling thoughts rise to the surface of our consciousness like a whisper – these subtle thoughts can be anything you can imagine, kind of like the ideas that pop into your head when you are busy and you forget to write them down, the ones you soon forget about.

    meditation experiences are hard to explain, you can read about them, but the perfect advice is to meditate, twice a day forever – i started meditating in the 1970s.

    one of the my earlier experiences scared me to death – i got up before dawn and started my twenty minute mediation before going to the office – after a few minutes my eye lids lit up and my first though was that i’ve reached the state of enlightenment like the stories you hear about the ancient yogis experiencing.

    well i didn’t reach the state of enlightenment that morning, it so happens that i was facing a window on the east side of the house, and the dawning sun poked a beam through the window.

    i’ve never actually meditated to reach the state of enlightenment, but as relaxation and rest, to enable me to get back out into to the stressful world of competition.

    David in Maine USA

  4. Now that you mention it, when I first started writing again after not really doing it for 20 years or so, I used to meditate for about 15 minutes before every writing session. I did it to relax myself a bit because sitting down to a blank page (computer screen, really) was a little intimidating after not writing for so long. I should pick it back up sometime, since meditation apparently has a number of benefits.

    A while back I read a book about meditation, an esoteric tome entitled “Meditation For Dummies.” Supposedly the “noisy mind” experience is pretty common when starting out, and gets better with practice.

    • It’s funny because in class today during meditation time I started getting a great idea for a story ๐Ÿ™‚ My mind wasn’t empty but it seemed the meditation served me well! lol

  5. Pranayam will definitely help you focus better and so definitely have a positive impact on your writing, and clearing one’s mind comes too, although the time frame is subjective! I’ve been meditating daily for 13 years now, and I still remember when I started I thought I’d never get it right! It’s all about controlling your breathing..I need not tell you, you are gonna become a Yoga teacher soon ๐Ÿ™‚ Nice to know, good luck!

  6. I have wondered about trying Yoga for all the stretching and flexibility. I usually average three gym trips a week, mainly weights and cardio. I love doing that, and I find a good workout usually clears the mind. Just getting the blood flow pumping clears the cobwebs away for me.

    • Wow, you’re doing great if you go to the gym that often! You might be really surprised by the amount of flexibility you can gain if you do add yoga to your routine. ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. i agree with david as well. too much silence might be a bad thing. i’m like you as to books – attention span can solely be attributed to the material one reads. if it doesn’t take me in – move to something else that does. the reason for me as to poetics is that they are short reads, though i’m seeing that flash fiction and short short stories work the best for me.

  8. I think it helps to give focus about what it is your really want to say… Sometimes writing can scatter when you have a lot of thoughts or ideas. Meditation definitely helps to focus and quiet the mind for the right ideas to surface.

  9. One of my friends is training to be a yoga instructor two. I know it’s done wonders for her peace of mind and her energy levels, but she’s got a pretty rocking body now too. Makes me wish I made time for it! I am sure it can only help your writing. ๐Ÿ™‚

  10. Those damn novels!! ๐Ÿ™‚ You know, in my experience, writing a novel, a story, even flash fiction, boils down to one thing – just sit down and do it. Do I feel that yoga will help you in the long run? Absolutely! But I’ve read your writing and I know you have it in you to write that novel. A novel, though, is a constant work until you finish it. I work out because I like to remain as healthy as I can (plus I love to eat, almost as a detriment), but I’ve never, ever found working out to relieve stress, as “they” say. It feels great, don’t get me wrong, but the problems I had walking into the gym are still there when I walk out! I think, Sheila, you’ll get that novel done because I know you love writing. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Sean: I think you may be onto something here but I need some kind of excuse ๐Ÿ™‚ lol On the eating, I’m so with you. I LOVE to eat. It’s a pleasure I look forward to and it’s so hard when I’m trying to lose weight and want to enjoy something scrumptious and fatty! On the novel, it will come if I allow it and have the patience for it. Thanks for stopping by ๐Ÿ™‚

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