Thursday, November 4, 2010

ZEN MIND, BEGINNER'S MIND?

"Let's start at the very beginning
A very good place to start ..."

as Julie Andrews would tell us in The Sound of Music.
But I'm not sure where the beginning is.

In Sanskrit, the word sutra means thread. (Hence, suture?)
There are two threads (at least) to this blog.

Thread One
I guess Richard Hittleman is the start of the yoga part.
In the 1960s, my mom watched him on television when she got tired of Jack LaLanne.
She was ahead of the curve, there.
And being her only daughter, I suppose it was kind of natural for me to (eventually) try it.
But, I am an inconstant practitioner and it has been years since I have seriously practiced.

Thread Two
You know in Dante Aligheri's when the protagonist realizes he is deep behind enemy lines, lost in his mid-life and not sure where to go or what to do?

Midway on our life's journey, I found myself
In dark woods, the right road lost. To tell
About those woods is hard —so tangled and rough

And savage that thinking of it now, I feel
The old fear stirring: death is hardly more bitter.

— Robert Pinsky, The Inferno of Dante, Canto I

It's not a pretty place, and I've spent a lot of time there these past few months.

I've always been pretty facile with words, but, as I mentioned, not so good with discipline or commitment. So, although I think I've wanted to be a writer since I was about 10, and indeed have written poetry and a good start on a novel and lots of email, postcards, and letters, and even been published in a couple of places, I can't seem to stick to it. Again.

I've tried various writing books and programs, but they don't quite do it for me. Although The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron is clearly a success and has helped many many of my friends, it smacks a bit of the old AA rhetoric for me.

Where the threads came together
My mother, the aforementioned yogini, and I were invited to be guests at Kira and Eric Ryder's Ojai Yoga Crib this year. Both of us had some trepidation. She's 83.75 with macular degeneration and some arthritis. I hadn't been to a yoga class or done a serious practice in five years. But, as she is 83, we figured we might not have this opportunity forever, so we should go for it.

One of the neat features of "the Crib" is that the program is tailored for the individual, so we asked for easy classes. Kira asked if we would be up for some "spiritual practice and philosophy." Janet (Maman) is always up for that, and I certainly needed something.

So, on a Saturday morning we sat listening to Ravi Ravindra talking about Patanjali's Sutras. As I listened, I reflected that much of the discipline of yoga was great advice for writing. I'm not sure exactly what really triggered and motivated me but it might have been one of these:

Practice itself cleanses our motivation.

I know where I am going by going.

So, in the immortal words of Jackie Gleason...

"And away we go!"

3 comments:

  1. Wanted to find a nice quote to say this but simply put, I am glad you are walking the path.

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  2. Your mother has a warm place in my heart. She always put up with me and let me push the cats off the chairs. I like your blog!

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  3. You began your blog the weekend that I got my teenage Kiwi girl. Between just completely readjusting my life and patterns, having a teenage girl to entertain, and "share" the computer with I hadn't had a chance to sit down and read this yet. Finally we got her, her own lap top, got her in school and celebrated the holidays, so finally back to some normalcy in my life. Just wanted to say thanks for sharing this with me. I am already inspired.

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