Writing + Yoga, part 2

by Starla J. King on June 13, 2014

[part 2.  see part 1 here]

kripalu2Last weekend I attended a delicious 3-day Writing Through the Chakras workshop with Dani Shapiro and Stephen Cope at Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health (aka heaven).

Yoga followed by writing followed by yoga followed by writing. Bones creaked, joints opened, sinews elongated, and writing flowed.

“We are attempting, in the creative process, to witness what’s there.” ~ Stephen Cope

We paid attention — to our bodies and our writing.

“We don’t approach the page with confidence; we approach it with courage.” ~ Dani Shapiro

We found courage simply by moving beyond fear into quiet bodies, quiet minds, and willing notebooks.

“The single most important thing I do [for my writing] is create the right conditions.” ~ Stephen Cope

We were reminded that we are caretakers of our writing process.

“What you are most concerned nobody will connect with, that’s precisely where everyone connects.” ~ Dani Shapiro

We remembered that our writing is one way to change lonely into community.

“To be yourself is hard, hard work.  The page is your mirror; it shows us who we are.” ~ Dani Shapiro

And we were reminded that writing is a difficult (and thankfully rewarding) work of self-discovery, an ongoing deliberate practice.

Deliberate practice, ah yes, a concept essential to each of us as we hone a craft, a vocation, a way of being, a way of living.  It goes, according to Stephen, something like this:

A bunch of years ago, psychologist K. Anders Ericsson determined that it takes 10,000 hours of deliberate practice to master — think virtuoso performance, culture-shifting production — a domain.  (That 10,000 hours figure can crush you or motivate you — you decide, but I hope you choose motivate.)

Notice it’s not just “practice,” but “deliberate practice,” which consists of the following:

1. Returning again and again with the intent of improving the work each time, (not just doing the same thing, same level, rote repetition).

2. An intentional feedback loop.  For writers, this feedback comes through mentor relationships, coaches, and trusted readers.

3. Recovery from the intensity of the work.  Leisure time, rest (nap, anyone??), for during this recovery time, the mind often solves its own problems as we get out of our own way.

4. Hanging out in the culture of that domain.   Go to yoga+writing workshops, frequent the coffee shops that writers hang out in, go to author readings, take classes, de-isolate.

It struck me, as I discovered these specifics last weekend, that deliberate practice is what we are naturally drawn to do when we step into our calling.  We are no longer willing to just put in the time; we are instead pulled to intentionality, meaningful mastery, aligned community, and disciplined self-care — all in service of our work.

And 10,000 hours towards that?  Count me in!

I’ll start with a nap.

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