Or, A Ventilation on Writing Themes
I practice yoga, and one of the most important tenets echoing throughout yoga studios is about “Showing up to the mat”.
As in, one of the most important parts of your practice is starting it in the first place. Each day, every day (or nearly everyday), just show up and do it. No matter how good, mediocre, thrilling, settled, scattered, vigorous or languorous the practice ends up being.
This yogic mindset is something I’ve always tried to apply to my writing, but with far less success.
For some reason, a pink rectangle on the floor is easier to show up to than Microsoft Word.Sitting down in front of my computer is easy enough — but opening Word, working on a document, keeping that .docx file open for long enough to amass a collection of words?
That’s the hard part for me.
My years practicing yoga and studying related philosophy have shown me that sometimes, we tend to put off and postpone that which we most need to do. I might rationally know that yoga is best for my body, that I love how I feel during and afterwards, that it helps me stay healthy and sane, but for some reason, a part of me wants to reject it. It wants to make excuses, stay away from the mat, and otherwise do anything that’s not yoga.
My writing practice is the same, but it’s taken me longer to connect the dots.
Writing has always, unfortunately, come last. In a choice between yoga and writing, I’ve always chosen yoga (because how else will my body be ready to sit for so long?), but somehow allayed myself with the knowledge that I’m doing at least one of the things I most need to be doing.
But I’ve begun to notice that a lot of the rationalizations that I use to stay away from the mat creep up when I sit down to write. I’ve noticed that when I do decide to write, my mind immediately seeks a distraction– just like in my heyday of avoiding Ashtanga yoga.
Go clean the kitchen, it’s so dirty! If you don’t start cooking the beans now, you’ll have to wait a whole extra day. Ahhh, haven’t you wanted to clean out that closet for like four months now? Better start it now. Also, why not wash all of the sheets in the house for no apparent reason? Furthermore, you should probably organize all your credit cards/important papers/shoes/old notebooks RIGHT NOW because if you don’t you’ll never remember again.
One of the oldest pieces of writing advice is “just freaking write” (my paraphrase). All the sages counsel: write everyday, no matter the quality, the usability, the amazingness, the horridity, the whatever.
A lot like what the yogis have counseled for thousands of years.
Writing is, for me personally, the highest life goal, the longest-held passion, the dearest thing to my heart. So why has it become a struggle to show up to the mat? Or, in this case, the laptop?
These reasons are mine alone to dissect, ingest, percolate and otherwise ponder. We all have our infuriating logic vs. emotion, obvious vs. insane battles going on within us.
I think it has something to do with how EASY it is to be lazy, eat junk food, blow off meetings, and otherwise let healthy rhythms and patterns completely dissolve.
All I know is that when I do show up to my yoga mat, and dedicate myself fully and wholly to my practice…I see amazing results.
The same is true for my writing, too.
Here’s to showing up: no matter how much we want to avoid it, make excuses, rationalize our way out of it, and otherwise tell ourselves that it’s okay if we ditch it for one more day.
If we don’t show up to the mat, time and time again, we’re not going to get very far. No matter what it is that we’re doing.