“When you’ve set an intention for your practice, bring your hands to your heart.”
Every Monday afternoon, I return to my yoga mat and focus on what I need in my life. That may be the physical routine that I’m about to participate in. It may be 75 minutes of quiet before I resume what is likely to be a jam-packed week. But regardless of what has brought me there or how long it’s been since I’ve slowed my breath and focused my mind, two words often return to the forefront: Seek peace.
I’m approaching a year of regular yoga practice, and in many ways, it’s unlike anything I’ve done before. I take 75 to 90 minute sessions, several times a week, to slow down and breathe. And I often tell my yoga-skeptical friends that I could walk into that room, assume child’s pose and then focus on my breathe, then leave in a better frame of mind than that in which I arrived.
This slowing down, both of the mind and of the body, has always been a struggle for me. I love information and learning, and I’m constantly filling my world with more, more, more. Just this afternoon I plowed through a stack of New Yorker and New York magazines, moving them from my bedroom floor to the recycling bin in an act of self improvement and cleaning.
Finding that solace in motion is a new act for me; though I cheered and danced in high school, those physical activities filled my mind rather than slowing it down until facing my issues became unavoidable. But even though finding that space in movement is something different, I’ve always been able to sort my thoughts and clear my mind through writing.
I decided I wanted to become a writer when I was in fifth grade. By that point, I’d already written a book and a play or two. (I still have the transcripts, though not in their original forms, around here somewhere.) But I distinctly remember finding myself more through my pen than any other medium when I was 10 years old. I was a pretty normal kid who loved riding bikes, watching Nickelodeon and reciting every word to the week’s episode of Full House, but I best expressed myself in writing.
That’s still true, and that’s also why I periodically turn to this blog. This space is one where I offer myself grace; I’m regularly writing and editing in my full-time job, adjunct instructor position and freelance work. I turn to my journal when I need to sort things out. But expressing myself in a public venue is another way of stretching this writing muscle and challenging my introverted self. That’s why I’m coming up on 10 years of blogging (come March), and that’s why I continue to unveil my heart in a rather public space.
Like so many of my fellow Birmingham writers, I’ve decided to participate in my friend, fellow board member and freelance writer Javacia Harris Bowser’s November #bloglikecrazy challenge. I’ve admittedly jumped on board late; this effort began Nov. 1, and here we are, 11 days into the month. But again, this is a space where I show myself grace, which I must confess is not my strongest suit. I suspect I’ll benefit from accepting a challenge to write (in a public way, no less) every day for a month. I’m not particularly concerned about the date on which I begin this journey.
As I’ve grown older, and particularly since I’ve entered my thirties, I’ve gotten increasingly better at focusing on the intentions I have set for my life, then evaluating the steps I’m taking to achieve those goals (or the acts that are taking me away from them). Yoga is one of the means by which I’ve seen myself become stronger, more focused and more confident. Writing has always been a key part of that, as well. Just as I intend to return to my mat and face what I find there, day after day, I aim to pick up the pen or keyboard and release the words and thoughts I so often repress. I know myself, and thereby am more open to others, when I do.
Today’s subject line comes from Radiohead’s “Myxomatosis,” which is fabulous for so many reasons.