Sometimes in order to write, or create any art, it helps to simply get out of our own way— out of our heads, that is -and into our bodies. I recently came from a weekend of teaching at The Sedona Yoga Festival where I spoke before hundreds of people about vulnerability, language, and writing from the body.
This is how we transform our writing AND our lives. Here’s a simple exercise you can try from the comfort of your home:
1. Step away from your writing desk, couch, favorite chair or wherever you usually write and stand up in a quiet place where you won’t be distracted or interrupted.
2. Take your shoes off and simply stand in place with your feet shoulder width apart and let your hands rest easily at your sides. Bend your knees slightly and feel into your center of gravity. Breathe into this center right below your navel.
3. Begin to rise up of your feet and bounce or jump lightly in place while shaking your arms and taking deep quick breaths in through your nose and exhaling vigorously through your mouth. Take ten of these deep breaths and long exhalations while actively shaking and bouncing.
(If you feel at all dizzy during this process simply stop the breathing exercise and sit down slowly.)
4. On the eleventh exhale close your eyes and come to stillness. And then breathe normally, feeling the energy moving through your body.
Go straight into a freewrite or focused writing practice based on the topic you were working on and write without stopping for a minimum of ten minutes. Notice any changes in your over-all energy, insight, or general creativity. Repeat throughout the day to keep your energy, vitality, and creativity flowing.
For more tips on writing, writing from the body, incredible mindfulness practices, and how to dramatically improve your writing, I hope you will join me for an extraordinary weekend workshop OR retreat at the amazing:
(California) ESALEN INSTITUTE June 12-17
(New York) the OMEGA INSTITUTE July 15-17
(Colorado) SHAMBHALA MOUNTAIN August 25-29
(Vancouver, Canada) or HOLLYHOCK Oct 1-2, 2016
Connecting with your body as a source of wisdom, intuition, and creative flow is an ancient art that many of us have lost touch with. It can be the difference between writing that’s good and writing that comes from a place in your soul with the potential to light the reader on fire with enthusiasm. Time to connect again… let me show you how.
Body awareness is the key to unlocking a creative flow you may not have experienced before, even if you’re a long-time writer. It’s the door to feeling, sensation, and emotion and the avenue through which you can Feng Shui the internal mess that is your mind. Making space mentally is very much like making space in your physical environment – it changes the energy and allows flow.
To connect with that inner wisdom, healer and intuition, no matter what your purpose, you must first understand that feeling is the way in. You must give yourself permission to feel everything, including the resistance to feeling! By using the body as an anchor for awareness you can let the mental story attached to the sensation drop away. This leaves space for new ideas and fresh inspiration to flow through to you!
A Body Awareness Exercise for Writers
Try a little bit right now. Push back from the screen, plant your feet on the floor, and settle down into your chair. Relax your body, shoulders down; neck, back, and legs softening. Take some deep breaths and really arrive in your body for a few moments. Notice what you feel. Any tension? Any aches or pains? Any mental chatter starting up? Just notice those things and go back to following the deep breath and melting or un-clenching the body with each exhale. Be the observer and the feeler of what’s going on. With an open mind and curiosity, see what happens when you get still and connect with your body like this. Try this practice for a few minutes at first and work your way to fifteen or twenty. Body awareness meditation is a powerful practice that takes you on a healing journey.
After you’re finished, grab a piece of paper and pen and fill in the blank: I feel_____. This kind of writing has no rules, so don’t worry about spelling, punctuation, grammar, or even finishing sentences. Set a timer for 5 minutes and write until it goes off. Allow the writing to come freely, without getting in the way of it with your judgements or thoughts.
When we connect with the body essentially we’re connecting with the soul’s GPS system. It will help us navigate inside of our lives and aim us at uncovering the layers of stuff keeping us from ease, flow, inspiration, and joy. When you begin to peel these layers off by simply feeling them and letting go, you are practicing the Feng Shui I talked about earlier. You create the space that will attract the creative flow you’re looking for in your writing or other endeavors.
Why the Ability to Connect with the Body Is Essential
In more than twenty years of studying the mind-body complex and what it takes to help people heal and feel better in their bodies, I’ve learned that the ability to connect with the body is essential. Helping people arrive as a conscious, loving, curious soul inside their own bodies and practice feeling and learning the language of their inner wisdom is a powerful, life-long tool. When that shift starts to happen and an individual wakes up to the messages they are being given on a daily basis that guide their life, everything changes. Suddenly they feel excited, hopeful, and enthusiastic about their life.
When you allow this connection to fuel your writing, you open a door to endless possibility in terms of ideas and inspiration. You open a box you didn’t know you had locked up. When this door opens you realize you had the key to it all along, right there under your own skin. Once this connection is made, you’ll hardly ever use the excuse of writer’s block again because you’ll be connected to a source that’s so much bigger than you.
Let’s do one more exercise before you go. In terms of the body, the breath is one of the magical entry points into feeling and healing. Push back from your computer again and ground your feet into the floor. Relax your body, un-clenching all the muscles and melting yourself into your chair. Take a breath and clear your mind. Use the breath now to feel. As you begin to inhale and exhale, allow the body to increase or shorten the breath. Just let go and allow the body to breathe while you bathe it in awareness.
Feel the inhale and notice where that sensation flows. Feel the exhale and notice where that sensation flows. Relax and melt with each exhale, letting feeling and sensation be your primary focus. Let go of everything else; all the mental chatter, all the judgements, all the ideas about what you’re feeling. Come back into the body for each breath.
As you ease yourself back into the room and your surroundings, notice how that felt. Grab your paper and pen, set your timer for 5 minutes and fill in the blank: My breathing feels_____. No rules! Just write in a free flow until the timer goes off.
I hope you’re beginning to feel how this kind of writing is different than many others. Without the analytical, judgmental brain taking over, this kind of writing is free to come from another space inside of you. It will show you things about what clogs you up internally and bring them out onto the paper, creating an opportunity for you to reflect, and then make new choices about what you think and believe.
Writing is just one moment when you can practice this body connection. Take this practice into your daily life and you’ll start to notice that other areas of your life begin to shift and transform. Feeling is healing. Using this powerful practice in combination with writing (and anything else you do) is what I call Warrior Healing. It takes a warrior to look at his or her life and decide to make a change.
Connecting with your body, learning its language, and then practicing that awareness on a regular basis will be the key to your best writing, and your best life.
About the Author
Laura Probert, MPT is a holistic physical therapist, published author, poet, inspirational teacher, and black belt in Tae Kwon Do. You can find her writing featured in places like The Huffington Post, MindBodyGreen, Best Self Magazine, The Wellness Universe, Wild Sister Magazine, PersonalGrowth.com, Tiny Buddha and The Elephant Journal. She’s serious about integrating mind body and soul as a journey to passion and power and it’s her mission to show you how. Find her books and programs at www.LauraProbert.com and www.facebook.com/kickasswarriorgoddess.