The following points aren’t my equivalent of the eight limbs of yoga. My yoga practice and self-discovery seem to contain four components:
- Healing: after 55 years of mostly physical neglect and even abuse, restoring my body’s strength and flexibility is long-term project. I’m healing the degraded function caused by lack of use but also what’s happened to my body since the previous practice. I’ve been most aware of this healing function because of my lower back pain, but it’s much broader than that. Jon Kabat-Zinn says, “Healing always involves an attitudinal and emotional transformation.”
- Stretching: getting muscles to extend and contract to their maximum is one side of the story. The other is pushing back what I sense as my maximum, my limit. Stretching also causes a release of built tension.
- Growing: over time, this discipline has an effect of expanding my physical capacity beyond what what I could have done last week or last month.
- Inspiring: this aspect is what calls the soul and spirit to engage in the process — it’s not just the asanas and the physical workout. It’s the intellectual and spiritual curiosity that makes yoga and meditation a challenging endeavor. It’s engaging the inner teacher who is really the source of what I learn about myself. It’s what gets me back on the mat again, and also searching for new creative challenges.
I was really surprised when the inspiration/creativity point came to me, but it seemed a natural consequence of the other three. It marked a shift out of survival mode into a human wholeness.
For the past month, I’ve been journaling privately a lot, which has distracted me from this weblog and other online writing. It’s been back to the basics, with a fountain pen and notebook. But it has also allowed me to examine my creative goals. For the first time since 1991, I am seriously expanding my horizon and risk-taking. It’s extremely exciting, gratifying and enlivening. Writing has always been a tool in my professional career. My practice will see its fruits in the creative field. Right now I’m just being playful with my writing, flexing my muscles, but I’ve started to map out a few, more ambitious writing projects.
Since I have not directly touched on inspiration and creativity here before, I’ve decided that it also has to have a page on this site.