Joy Held's Writer Wellness

"Be well, write well."

Monday Meditation: Lessons In Living

on March 28, 2011

 

There are five primary areas of practice to the Writer Wellness plan. Every other week I will post an idea for relaxation (Monday Meditation,) creative play (Tuesday Tickle,) fitness and exercise (Wednesday Workout,) journaling and misc. (Thursday Thought,) and nutrition (Friday Feast.)

We are each living our daily lives as we would like to experience our deaths.

“Whoa! Hold on,” you’re saying. “I don’t like to think about dying. I’ll deal with it when it happens.”

It happens a little to everyone every day. Awareness of that tiny fact creates a huge relief in those who notice it. Yoga has a particular gift in this area. It’s a pose called ‘Savasana’ which is Sanskrit for ‘corpse pose.’ The end of every decent hatha yoga class is spent in this one pose for up to 20 minutes. My students call it “the present at the end of the yoga workout party” because with practice ‘Savasana’ is truly a gift on many levels. One of those levels is the practice of our death.

“Okay, too morbid for me. Next blog, please.” 

That’s the normal reaction to a discussion of death. But this is a discussion of the appreciation of life.

I was raised in a ballet school and had to perform on stage quite a bit. Recitals, “The Nutcracker”, and benefit performances used to make me nervous. As a young dancer, I sometimes got so ill I couldn’t go on with the show. Nowadays that’s called “performance anxiety” and the study of it has shown that sufficient preparation and practice of an activity completely alleviates the stress caused by having to perform in front of an audience. I taught myself to practice more often and rehearse my dances in my mind over and over by visualizing the movements night after night before falling asleep. When it came time to perform, no sick stomach or sweats, just a great experience for me and the audience. The dedicated repetition in the studio and in my mind gave me the confidence to perform without tension and without worrying about the expectations. I knew I was doing the best job I possibly could because I had practiced a lot. 

In his brilliant book The Inner Tradition of Yoga, A Guide to Yoga Philosophy for the Contemporary Practitioner, author and psychotherapist Michael Stone explores some of how ‘Savasana’ is an honest, stress-free practice of “life structured by death.” In a pure and simple sense we all make daily living choices that lead us along the path of how we will experience our endings. In the regular practice of corpse pose we gently, slowly, and gradually choose in a small way to live and pass peacefully and with respect toward our world and others. Relaxing deeply in the gift of corpse pose at the end of a good hatha session is an opportunity to make a tiny practice about how we would like to leave this existence. It’s normal to resist death but the miniscule and regular practice of accepting it peacefully builds a reserve in our mind. We can call on those peaceful reserves when faced with stressful expectations and the results will be better for all concerned.

According to Stone, “Yoga teaches us that the dance of all we perceive happens in front of awareness, not inside or behind it.” Yoga helps us practice the dance in front of the audience and with repetition we are not afraid. About the two arenas of life and death he adds, “The ‘practice of dying’ is a matter of learning to live the tension ‘in between’ these two dimensions of existence.” Corpse pose enables us to experience a small death with appreciation for living because after the pose we are graciously given the opportunity to stretch our arms and legs, take a deep breath, and go back to our world. The idea is to take the appreciations learned on the mat in corpse pose and practice those lessons in our lives off the mat.

Visit Michael Stone

http://centreofgravity.org/

Learning to appreciate corpse pose as more than a physical relaxation is learning gratitude for life. Don’t be afraid.

Meanwhile, remember to look for a digital or print copy of Writer Wellness, A Writer’s Path to Health and Creativity at Who Dares Wins Publishing, http://whodareswinspublishing.com.

And check out these great blogs for ideas to keep your writing and publishing healthy and prosperous. 

http://writeitforward.wordpress.com/ Bob Mayer

http://jenniholbrooktalty.wordpress.com/ Jenni Holbrook 

http://warriorwriters.wordpress.com/ Kristen Lamb 

http://inspiration4writers.blogspot.com/ Inspiration for Writers, Inc.

http://pentopublish.blogspot.com/ Natalie Markey

 Be well, write well.

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