Rachel

On Being

green black yellow round window
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

For many years—most of my life—I’ve felt that the way to solve things is to read about them, think about them, write about them, talk about them. Stage debates, work from polar opposite positions and argue until you come a little bit closer together, with your vision reworked, your point of view altered. Do the research. State a position. Try to prove it. Ask for opposing views. Refine your position. Revise. Then act on whatever you’ve decided through this synthesis of conflicting points of view. Through this experiment where I’ve moved away from my reading/writing/thinking/debating model to incorporate and integrate a yoga practice I’ve realized how many times my old model didn’t get me any closer to where I wanted to be.

The daughter of a psychologist, the English-major devotee of a dialectic, I am moving away from this model, or perhaps more accurately, trying to incorporate another approach. That approach doesn’t try so hard. It is not so full of judgement. Not so quick to form opinions. It has a lot more time for simply observing. Becoming aware. Sitting quietly.

Maybe many of the issues I’ve felt had to be “solved” didn’t require immediate solution. Perhaps many of them simply required the ability to tolerate discomfort and stay in the moment. Many of the issues presented themselves as questions. The questions nagged and made me anxious. If I can lessen anxiety through yoga and meditation and being present, I can let the questions be. Again and again I come back to this Rilke quote:

“Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything.”

 

Advertisements
Rachel

Writing on the Run

dawn dusk forest grass
Photo by Tirachard Kumtanom on Pexels.com

For a while I’ve had an idea about doing a writing/fitness program using my Writer’s Boot Camp books. I would need to team up with a personal trainer or aerobics instructor to make it feasible. The Writer’s Boot Camp books aren’t about fitness, but when I was writing them I noticed how much faster I could write if I focused on it immediately after jogging or even took down notes while I jogged. It makes sense, right? There’s a lot out there about how ideas come when you’re running, and of course exercise helps reduce anxiety, one of the biggest impediments to writing. But I haven’t seen much on combining writing and exercise, not just in the course of a day, but actually doing them together.

I won a free month of membership at Asphalt Green in Battery Park City and began today. It’s a beautiful, bright place with a great vibe (& amazing little cafe). I “kicked off” my attempts at writing-while-exercising on the stationary bike. That seemed the least risky. It was slightly awkward to write on a constantly shifting surface (notebook bobbing up and down on my legs) but it was definitely easy to focus on writing when I was also biking. It was like any energy that is usually spent on anxiety and/or distraction (or usually some feedback loop combination) was channeled into cycling.

Has anyone ever tried this? I’d be curious to hear your experience.

—Rachel

Rachel

Sunset

“Darkness is your candle. Your boundaries are your quest.”

—Rumi

 

The window here faces East. In the morning on sunny days the light is glorious. Today was rainy in the morning (and cold!). On the walk to school my kids said they hoped it would “cheer up”—and indeed it did. Clear up and cheer up both.

By mid-afternoon, it’s fairly dark in this room, even on a rainy-turned-sunny spring day like today, and by 8 or so,  there’s very little natural light that makes its way into the room even though it’s clearly out there, just facing the wrong way to get in. [see pic]

WP_20180604_20_02_18_Pro.jpg

 

I know the light is glorious at that moment for those facing the other way, watching the pink skies over Jersey. It bothers some people, who visit and complain about what a dark (and depressing? they seem to suggest) apartment it can be. I don’t mind it. We have a little something invented in the late 19th century that keeps things bright (electricity), or candles if you don’t need enough light to read or write by. Plus, I also find it quite nice sometimes to just allow the dark, to try to accept the lack of light with the same feeling I will accept (embrace that is) the sun streaming in when the next day begins.

Every now and then there is this trick that happens where the light facing East reflects off some of the windows across the way from us and radiates back, imitating the morning light and illuminating the room. The light is only a reflection, but in the cathedral hour, it feels just like the real thing.

 

—Rachel

Joy · Rachel · writing

Words on Paper

 

Screen Shot 2018-05-16 at 10.08.10 PM.png

I’m so happy to be featured in the upcoming (summer) issue of Bella Grace. Do you know this magazine? If you dream of reading in a lavender bath—this is the magazine you’d want to have with you. It is so gorgeously designed and inspiring and alive but also so very quiet. Reading it you feel your breathing slow down, your attention come to the present moment. You don’t think about all the things you should be doing, you don’t wonder “What else?” is out there or going on or being talked about and Liked and re-Tweeted at this moment. You feel totally content where you are. The piece they published of mine was called “Imagine Tonight” but they’ve renamed it simply, “Imagine.” It was inspired by reading the magazine and reconnecting to how much I loved evenings spent at home by myself but still in the real world.Screen Shot 2018-05-16 at 10.07.50 PM.png

Hope you are able to spend some time there tonight.

—Rachel

Rachel

Tulips – past their prime

I am going to try to return to my commitment to posting here Mondays and Wednesdays. Part of yoga is gentleness, with others and with ourselves, as well. In that spirit, I won’t berate myself for all the missed posts on this blog. I’ll accept that those days were full to overflowing and that I had/have not built a true habit of writing here yet. I have found it easier to find my way to the mat many mornings than to the page. This is a reversal of most of my previous life.

Spring is here in New York—pink trees, the enchanting perfume of lilac trees transforming the air, orange tulips radiant to bursting with color along the path by the river. That was the scene just days ago, but today the pink petals have all fallen, the lilac flowers faded to white, mostly lost their scent, and the tulips, you can see them here in this photograph from this morning. I had wanted to capture the world when everything was in bloom, but this is what I have instead. I feel like this little scene was trying to tell me something today, but I’m not sure what.

Screen Shot 2018-05-14 at 9.56.48 PM.png

 

—Rachel

Rachel

Resistance

It is sort of quiet at this moment. As quiet as this apartment ever is. Sounds of laughter every now and then from the bar nearby. A horn. The news channel playing in another room. Usually I have music playing, especially if I’m trying to write, but I don’t have anything on right now and there is a calmness to that I like. Sometimes the music feels like I’m trying to block something out. Trying to block a sound gives power to what that sound, just like with thoughts. The more we fight against a certain thought, the more power it has over us. Let the sounds float through the night. Let the thoughts come and go.

Right now I’m enjoying the sounds of the city, the sounds of life, of community, activity.  I don’t feel the need to resist them.

In yoga, we move away from resistance. In my writing, I’m moving toward it.

I wrote a short piece that will be included in the Writers Resist anthology.

It is yoga that has given me the space to figure out what it is I want to do with my writing.

 

—Rachel

Screen Shot 2018-05-02 at 9.39.32 PM.png

Rachel

Pillow Fort Dreams

pexels-photo-266642.jpeg

 

I wanted a picture of rain to start this post. First the picture, then the words. Lately that is my “practice.” (Somehow “practice” feels like too big a word to apply to the habit of blogging, and yet given the nature of this blog—the commitment to writing and yoga and seeking the places where they overlap—it seems fitting, too.) All the rainy day pictures I found I would contemplate for a moment, and then reject.

A girl playing in a pond with an umbrella and rainboots—too happy!

A woman in a city—Paris maybe, or London—with an umbrella, ducking under an awning—too romantic!

A hiker contemplating a glorious, rainy vista—too inspiring.

No, I was looking for a picture of the monsoon of this morning, the dirty rivers of trash we had to continually jump over, the thunder and lightning that seemed to be hounding us, the flipped-up umbrellas that offer no protection, the soaking-wet pants, the wet backpack doing a poor job of protecting my laptop, the kids huddled with a friend waiting for the subway dreaming about about staying home drinking hot chocolate and lounge around in pillow forts, the cranky commuters. forgoing the bike or the walk to work that would have lifted their moods, instead dripping and shoving off and onto the trains smelling like wet dogs.

I fight against the urge to check something, anything—news, another blog, Twitter, email, text messages. I resist but also try to be flexible in that resistance. I tell myself it is not about fighting off the urge to check something, which comes when I am unsure of what I next want to say, or can’t find the photograph I think I need, but more about giving my attention to this little piece of writing, to this little space on the computer screen, to this moment I’m luck enough to have. I know the focused attention I give today it won’t necessarily make this post any better, but over time, the attention I give this practice will improve it, if only by improving my ability to attend to the task at hand, to quiet other voices, to give myself space to not necessarily be witty or clever or wise, to smile at the critic’s voice that rushes in: If the post isn’t witty or clever or wise, why are you posting it? Why should someone else read something you don’t think is particularly worthwhile? Shouldn’t you wait until you have something better? To that critic, I will reply that it is good advice for an essay, short story, novel, poem or song. But the nature of the blog is an open-ness to the everydayness of who we are.

One thing occurs to me, as I think of my need to offer photographic proof of the hectic, rainy morning—why is that important? Everyone around me is experiencing the same hectic, rainy morning, and if that is the major obstacle of the day, we are lucky indeed. When I think of the cozy longed-for scene of hot chocolate in pillow forts, I know it is coziest of all when dreamed of from a cold, wet subway platform. The rainy, hectic morning gave the image of cozy abundance it is often hard to replicate on the most perfect spring day.

 

—Rachel