Be Strong In Your Warrior

One is not supposed to think during Yoga. You know the bumper sticker slogan "Go with the flow"? I'm thinking some yogi coined it. Yoga is about flowing. I know this because I got to thinking today, during yoga, and when I opened my eyes at the end of practice, I was facing the back wall, while everyone else was facing forward.

yoga.jpg

But first, before beginning the practice, we take time to focus our intention.

I’ve had loads of practice thinking, mulling, musing, pondering, "daydreaming" as my grandmother used to call it which sounded so pleasant, positive even, in contrast to other terms letting your mind wander is called: "Procrastinating", "Wasting Time", and when it goes on too long it morphs into "Resisting" as Steven Pressfield discusses in War of Art.

In an interview about her writing process (which I searched for but couldn’t find, as I didn't want to waste any more time looking) Isabel Allende said she "dreams" her stories. She watches the scene play out in her head, then writes it down. (And I seem to recall she actually lies down while "dreaming"--as in on a bed. Maybe with a pillow and blankie . . .

What's the difference?  Focused  Intention.

I've tried "dreaming" my scenes, playing them, working through them in my mind. And it works--but only if I'm walk-dreaming or ironing dreaming or  cooking dreaming. Flat out out on the bed or in a chair turns to "NAP TIME". 

I've tried "dreaming" my scenes, playing them, working through them in my mind. And it works--but only if I'm walk-dreaming or ironing dreaming or  cooking dreaming. Flat out out on the bed or in a chair turns to "NAP TIME". 

I have the same problem during yoga. At the end of each practice we lie in “corpse pose” (pretty self-explanatory: lay flat on your back on the ground like you’re dead.)

However, even with the instructor’s warning: “Tell yourself you are practicing deep meditation, you will not move, you will not fall asleep…” I’ll find myself jerking to attention or snorting awake. Maybe more than once, my friend Mimi had to give me a nudge. 

"I am practicing deep relaxation. I will not move. I will not fall asleep zzzzzzzzz"

"I am practicing deep relaxation. I will not move. I will not fall asleep zzzzzzzzz"

When I think "yoga",  Love-not-War, Flower Power and "Peace, Dude" comes to mind, not battle. Which makes flowing through a series of warrior poses seems oximoronic (if that’s even a word). Today, when Catherine said, as she does every yoga session “Stand strong in your warrior",  this oximoronosity--which self-corrected to monstrosity--came to mind.

As I stood, with my back leg stretched, front knee bent, staring past my quivering fingertips, pushing down through my aching legs in one of my mightiest Warrior 2 ever, I pondered the purpose of these Yoga Warrior poses.

Why would a peaceful practice such as yoga need warrior poses? What do flower power peace dudes have to do with battle?

Why would a peaceful practice such as yoga need warrior poses? What do flower power peace dudes have to do with battle?

I must share how, in spite of my pondering--or maybe because of it--2 out of 3 of my Warrior Poses were Stellar. 

Okay, so my Warrior Three was wobbly. In my defense, I was thinking . . .

Okay, so my Warrior Three was wobbly. In my defense, I was thinking . . .

It was not my best yoga day. (“Thinking, mulling, pondering” and “listen and follow directions” are mutually exclusive.) It was not my best work day, either. This question of why peaceful yogi-types would spend so much time and energy posing as warriors won. I couldn't let it so. So instead of sticking to the tasks I'd set for myself, I searched the internet for answers. 

Validation came when I came across an article in Yoga Journal  which also challenged warrior pose's role in yoga:  

Given that the ideal of yoga isahimsa, or ‘nonharming,’ isn’t it strange that we would practice a pose celebrating a warrior who killed a bunch of people?
— Richard Rosen, a contributing editor to Yoga Journal and the director of Piedmont Yoga Studio in Oakland, CA.

Rosen's conclusion is that the yogi is doing battle against her own ignorance. . . trying to "rise up out of your own limitations."  Which is not easy! Battling oneself never is.

Is this why we resist? Why we avoid? Procrastinate? (Which, I'm compelled to restate for the record, is so not the same thing as daydreaming. . . )

Fame is no insulator. Allende, author of 20 highly-acclaimed books, most recently   Ripper  , battles, too.

Fame is no insulator. Allende, author of 20 highly-acclaimed books, most recently Ripper, battles, too.

Each Jan. 7th, Isabel Allende prepares--focuses her intention. Jan 8th, she begins each new book.

Why Jan. 8th? Allende explains: "My daughter, Paula, died on December 6, 1992. On January 7, 1993, my mother said, ‘Tomorrow is January eighth. If you don’t write, you’re going to die.’"Her mother went to Macy's and when she returned Allende had taken up the gauntlet.

The only hard thing about writing is sitting down,” Isabel Allende noted. “The rest is so easy and so wonderful.
If you attempt to stay in it [warrior pose] for any length of time, you’ll confront your own bodily, emotional, or mental weaknesses. Whatever limitations you have, the pose will reveal them so that they can be addressed....When viewed this way, practicing Warrior [pose] can be seen as fighting the good fight.
— Tim Miller, director of San Diego's Ashtanga Yoga Center

What tool does Allende take with her to battle. What reminder to keep her focused. To help her stay strong in her warrior? A candle.

 In an interview with Bill Moyer she shared how she lights a candle when she begins writing. "It's a real candle, but it's also a metaphysical candle," she told him.

And if I have a candle, for as long as the candle is burning, I write. And then, when it’s over, when it burns off, I can have dinner and get out, and do things.
Imagine, each of these candles represents pages, chapters, novels . . .

Imagine, each of these candles represents pages, chapters, novels . . .

Today has been a battle. A battle to stay the course in yoga. A battle to stop puttering and sit down to the work I had planned for the day (a battle I lost.) And most frustrating/time consuming of all, a battle to publish this posting. Three times I'd been clicking away and something went wrong. It would have been easy to quit and turn to those many things I had planned to accomplish today. Important things. But working through this notion of what Warrior meant, which had taken hold of me as I  stared down the length of my outstretched arm. And so, I soldered.

How-to Focus Intention:

First: admit it. No matter what differences we are trying to make, what we are trying to create, to change, it is a war we are fighting. A war against taking the easy road, playing it safe. 

Second: Arm yourself with whatever will help you focus your intention, be it yoga mat, walking desk, chocolate bar reward, candle. . . 

Third: Attack!

 If you're reading this, I won! And it feels darn good. 

BE STRONG IN YOUR WARRIOR

Finding My Way Back

The reality of what I was doing didn’t dawn on me until I was winding my way down the California Coast, in pitch black, with no wireless connection, hence no Google map on my phone to guide me.

A book about a girl who’d returned to her home in Carmel by the Sea after her father’s death, inspired me to try being a writer in the first place. I’d read it while, like the heroine, I was back home at my grandparent's house in Watsonville, facing major life changes/decisions.

Nanny & Poppy's house now, Dec 2013, looks pretty much the same as it did back then. Except that the fountain stands where my loquat tree once did

Nanny & Poppy's house now, Dec 2013, looks pretty much the same as it did back then. Except that the fountain stands where my loquat tree once did

That life-changing book isn't  in any literary cannon.  It was an inexpensive, paperback Harlequin Romance with a man & woman embracing on the cover.

Young, broke, plain but interesting girl moves somewhere exotic for a job, meets older, rich, handsome arrogant hottie and--in spite of a gorgeous, sophisticated, worldly heiress set on snagging the hottie--wins his heart. What's not to love about that kind of romance?

Young, broke, plain but interesting girl moves somewhere exotic for a job, meets older, rich, handsome arrogant hottie and--in spite of a gorgeous, sophisticated, worldly heiress set on snagging the hottie--wins his heart. What's not to love about that kind of romance?

My friend Theresa's mom (with her hair set in pin-curls, which she'd take out just before five when her husband return home from work) would drive us to the library where "checking out" Harlequin Romance's meant filling a grocery sack with all the titles we didn't think we'd read before, taking them home and reading one in an afternoon while Elton, Rod or Bread played in the background.

To admit I have forgotten the title, is not to say I have, or will ever forget that book. It made me who I. . . was.

And now, some 28 years later I’m retracing my steps so to speak. And this time, I’ve traveled even farther distance-wise, if not time-wise. My last trip back to find myself had been via car, with 2 small children in tow—a much weightier journey on so many levels.

 

To get to where I am now, on the eve of the Big Sur Writing Workshop, I flew from Port of Spain to Houston to San Francisco and drove the 137, 3-hour trip down. I could have flown into Monterey Airport instead. That drive would have been less than an hour. And—or is it “but”—

 . . . I would have skipped the drive down highway 101 through San Jose to Gilroy and up and over Hecker Pass to Watsonville.

View of Watsonville and the Pacific from the top of Hecker Pass

View of Watsonville and the Pacific from the top of Hecker Pass

When I was a kid, the twisty-turney, bumpy, hot drive over Hecker Pass made me queasy. Subconciously, is that what drove me to drive it this time? Is this part of my Hero’s Journey?  Is making the drive without urping one of my quests?

If I had flown into Monterey instead of San Francisco, I wouldn't have had an opportunity to stop in Watsonville to check out the town, drive past my grandparent's house on Oregon Street and peek over the fence, past my Aunt Evelyn and Uncle Joe's house in the next block, or The Miramar--my mom's favorite place to eat back in the day (best garlic bread and mastaccioli in the whole world)--or drive through the old shopping center, with The Coffee Shop, where we’d go for lunch at least once a week, and Bud’s Barber Shop, where my brother Joe, and later my boy Max, got the “traditional boy cut” and a sucker. Or the Elks Lodge where we’d go for the Friday Night Fish Fry, and to the cemetery to visit my grandparents.

It took me way too long to find my grandparent's graves. I said hello and spent some time wondering and feeling grateful that someone had left Nanny flowers. But what about Poppy? Where were his?

It took me way too long to find my grandparent's graves. I said hello and spent some time wondering and feeling grateful that someone had left Nanny flowers. But what about Poppy? Where were his?

 . . . Or have dinner with my cousins Jodi and Amy until Sunday night after the Workshop.

Last Saturday, rain and more rain, kept Curtis and I from our regular walk. Instead we watched movies. One was Music and Lyrics with Hugh Grant and Drew Barrymore.

Through the course of the movie, Grant & Barrymore's characters try to write a song entitled “Way Back Into Love” which Grant hopes, will be his way back into a music career.      
  
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Through the course of the movie, Grant & Barrymore's characters try to write a song entitled “Way Back Into Love” which Grant hopes, will be his way back into a music career.

 

 

 

Pressfield suggests that’s what many of us "Artist Types" do when we are near our goal. We screw up.      
  
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Pressfield suggests that’s what many of us "Artist Types" do when we are near our goal. We screw up.

In WAR of ART, Steven Pressfield draws attention to THE ODYSSEY how, when Homer was within sight of the shore—of home—rather than remaining vigilant, got lazy, cocky, and went to sleep. While he slept, his crew, believing his bag was full of treasure, untied it and released the unfavorable winds.

 

. . . If I hadn't stopped for dinner I wouldn't have been driving south on Highway One at close to 9pm, even though the instructions to the Workshop and Big Sur Lodge clearly stated the park closed at 9pm. 

 

 . . . I would not have been driving in the pitch black of night on that narrow, windy, empty highway winding down the coast, not sure where I was going or how much longer it would take me to get there.

 





We’re always attracted to the edges of what we are, out by the edges where it’s a little raw and nervy.
— E.L. Doctrow






Planning to write is not writing. Outlining, researching, talking to people about what you’re doing, none of that is writing. Writing is writing.
— for this and more Doctorow-isms go to http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/e/e_l_doctorow.html

I signed up for the Big Sur Workshop quite a while back. Back when I thought I was staying the course.

Did I subconsciously know  I had strayed far, super far, and finding my way back wouldn’t be so easy?

E.L. Doctrow's words about being a write came to me as I wound my way down PCH: "It's like driving a car at night in the fog. You never see further than your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way."     I Made It!!!!

E.L. Doctrow's words about being a write came to me as I wound my way down PCH: "It's like driving a car at night in the fog. You never see further than your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way."

I Made It!!!!