Looking for Something?

Finding Inspiration: Anatomy’s Poetry

Author:

It’s no secret that I have a long fascination with the human body. As a Chiropractor’s daughter, it’s become second nature to diagnose people by the way they walk. A person’s gait gives away a lot: a bad hip, low back pain, a shoulder or knee injury–these are the things dad taught me (among many other beautiful things) on park benches, hikes, and waiting in airports. And, as a yoga teacher, anatomy is at the forefront of my teaching with the beauty of movement powerfully connecting to the biomechanics of linking breath and body. But as a writer, it’s the poetry of the body that I love: our tiny winged vertebrae, the bronchial tree branching in our lungs, and the thrumming rhythm of our hearts.

beatingheart

It’s no wonder I was drawn to the Real Bodies exhibit, a collection of fully preserved human cadavers, while I was in Vegas this past week. Yes, it was morbid, and at times creepy, but utterly fascinating to stare into the body in such an intimate way. For me, the exhibit was an artist’s paradise: the scientific displays were framed by quotes, beautifully written passages, and mind-blowing facts like:

The saliva you produce in a lifetime can fill two Olympic pools. Or, the volume of air you breathe each day can fill approximately seven hot air balloons.

As a writer I love weaving the strange and factual with creative nonfiction. In 2007, after my mom’s diagnosis with breast cancer (9-year survivor this year–woohoo mom!), I became obsessed with the body and it’s processes; as a Lit major I even took a Biology of Cancer course where the teacher allowed me to write a personal memoir intertwined with facts for my final paper. That same year, I wrote Believer’s Blog, a creative nonfiction piece experimentally blending memoir and facts. The piece was birthed from reading this in the newspaper:

Humans shed about 600,000 particles of skin per hour, about 1.5 pounds a year or 105 pounds of skin by the time they are 70 years old. This translates to an entirely new outer layer of skin cells every 27 days, almost 1000 new skins in an average lifetime.

I was enthralled by this shedding, and this opportunity of so many new skins over a lifetime. I’ve found myself in a creative slump as of late, but somewhere in this raw exhibit I rediscovered that imaginative energy, and shed what had been weighing me down.

in-action

As artists, we must have energy. We must seek inspiration. We must hunger for creation. Writers create through drive and passion. Inertia pushes us forward. Yesterday I found that push with an intimate look at our inner workings. Where are you finding yours?

anatomic-high-five

Leave me a comment about how your creativity is going, and in what unexpected ways you are reigniting your creative swagger.

on-the-body-poem

Writing Prompt: Get inspired by the art in your community. See what local museums are curating, go people watching, check out the independent movies listed at the off-beat movie theater. Take your journal. Observe first, then set a timer (for 5, 10, or 15 minutes) and capture whatever thoughts come–continue writing the whole time. Inspiration is out there. It’s whether you are hungry enough to uncover it.

To breath, body, and art,

courtney amber

 

Enhance Your Creativity with Meditation

Author:
Try Ananda, a new customizable meditation platform,
for 30 days of unlimited access with promo code THEGIFT. 

For any of you who have joined me in a yoga class (or writing class!) you know that I love incorporating guided meditations and imagery into my teaching. The reason I love it so much is twofold. First, meditation practices are a great way to get us into our bodies and into the present moment where both learning and healing take place. Second, meditation enhances creativity, and research backs this up.

Guided meditation is essential to creative practice because it:

• Cues the generation of new ideas
• Stimulates creative thoughts and problem solving
• Clears the mind of distractions, which opens up more free space, an essential element for allowing creativity to flow
• Brings clarity and focus
• Abolishes fear and promotes confidence

Overall, meditation helps you tap into and release any blockages that might be stumbling blocks to your creativity. The practice is about freeing up space and letting go. When we surrender to just being, creativity and inspiration have room to play.

img_4326

Because of my passion for guided meditation, I’m really excited about a new meditation platform that has given more ease to my practice. Ananda, created by The Chopra Center and Deepak Chopra, is a personalized meditation platform that can be used on the computer or any smart device. Here’s why I’m enjoying Ananda so much:

  1. It’s perfect for both new and well-versed practitioners. For those who have not tried to meditate, it can be intimidating. However, research has shown that prior meditation experience is not necessary to access its benefits. It’s true that meditation’s wide-ranging health benefits increase with regular practice, but it’s also true that the very first time you pause to meditate, you can take an active role in cleansing your mind and cultivating inspiration. For beginners, Ananda provides an easy introduction into the world of meditation. And, for those of you that have already dabbled in meditation, or find your way to your ‘cushion’ on a daily basis, Ananda allows you to deepen your practice.
  2. Ananda helps you make time to meditate. Guided meditation is reviving, energizing, healing, and most of all, freeing, leaving you with more room to dive into your creative and writing practices. The Dalai Lama wrote that the more he has to do in a day, the more time he sets aside for meditation, meaning that meditation is really the creation of space—when we give ourselves more headspace we actually create more focus and more freedom for the flow of ideas. Think of your meditation like a coffee or tea or whatever type of break rings true for you. You truly have 10 minutes for yourself, and Ananda provides ease of access to your practice with a simple click.
  3. And my favorite: it’s completely customizable. Ananda is like walking into a meditation buffet where you can sample and melt into a wide selection of guided meditations based on the mood you’re in and the amount of time you have. The platform allows you to pull together your favorites by creating your own playlists, listen to themed playlists, or check out what is trending. One of my favorite features is the ability to mix and match music tracks with the different meditations, choosing the background audio that resonates most with my mood in that moment. In writing, the key is to keeping the reader engaged is not waking them from the dream you are producing; Ananda allows you to sink into this dream state of meditation by highly personalizing your choices.

    Since I’m a creativity junkie—craving anything that inspires and lights up those innovative centers of my brain—I’ve pulled together some of my favorites from Ananda, curating a playlist to ignite your creativity as you start your meditation adventure. When you log into Ananda, look for the playlist “Healing Your Creative Soul.” Creativity is about trust, nourishment, and empowerment, and you’ll find the ability to tap into all three of these with this list of meditations.

    After your meditation practice, I encourage you to pick up your pen and write.

    Ananda is a subscription based program, and with this special offer from the Chopra Center, you can explore Ananda for an entire month—30 free days of unlimited access! Check it out here and use promo code THEGIFT to unlock your personalized meditation experience. Be sure to claim it as soon as possible as it expires at the end of the year, and share with others who would benefit (ie: all of us!).

    Looking forward to hearing what you discover as you journey into the meditation world with Ananda,

    Courtney Amber

    Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by The Chopra Center, however, all opinions and thoughts are my own, and based on my experience with Ananda.

    thegift-fb-bannerad-400x260v5

What I’ve Been Up To Lately: Weaving Together Yoga & Writing

Author:

I know I’ve been a little quiet with posts. I haven’t stopped thinking about you though! In fact, I’ve been thinking about you nonstop as I hunkered down to officially develop and fine-tune my program Yoga & Meditation For Writers. It’s a six class series that is all about diving into the creative process, getting to know your voice, and accessing your intuition.

IMG_3596

Here’s a little background on why I’ve woven the two together, and how I see Yoga & Meditation as beneficial tools for writers (and, they are so beneficial–in fact, I’ve been dancing and rock climbing and posing and creating my way through this process and series, and am so excited to unveil it to you!)

First, and this isn’t hard to guess based on my blog, I love Yoga & Writing. Ok, maybe that’s an understatement. I’m passionate about Yoga & Writing. Over the moon, in fact.

And, just as luck has it, Writing & Yoga have a lot in common. Take a peak:

  • Discipline – Yoga actually means ‘discipline.’ As simple as it sounds, a yoga practice begins when we take that first conscious breath. And, our writing practice begins when we sit down, pick up the pen or alight our fingers across the keyboard, and we write that first word.
  • Arriving – So much of both a mindful and creative process come in the act of arriving. Getting to that creative space can be difficult, and that’s where Yoga and Meditation come in. They are tools to:
    • Drop you into the present moment
    • Move you away from judgement (what writer doesn’t need to take a step back from the inner critic?)
    • Be present with what is (i.e. remove those self-inflicted obstacles)
    • Travel to a place where you can listen to your intuition and create with spontaneity and freedom (all of which can happen during the incredible process of getting to know yourself and your body–your most precious tool on this planet)
  • Dedication – To ignite the creative process, we must dedicate ourselves to it. To cultivate anything, we must feel it, spend time with it, feed it. Yoga and mediation help you laser in on your focus and concentration, allowing you to dedicate time to your writing practice.
  • Presence – For both to be done well–meaning in the most perfectly flawed and character-filled expression of all that is you–you must be wholly present to sensation and open to experience.
  • Therapy – Yup! Yoga and writing are some of the best therapeutic forms of expression there are. They offer catharsis, cleansing, and release. And, sometimes we need a good cleansing through organic movement and meditation so we can approach our writing with a decluttered mind.

Pretty cool, huh? Are you as excited as I am? Join this series to peel back the layers and labels that you carry with you. Take yourself as the obstacle out of the equation. Dive deep. Release your inner writer. And, gain these following tools:

-Build your writing practice through Yoga & Meditation
-Improve your concentration & focus
-Improve your delivery of sensory details & emotionally impactful scenes
-Eliminate writer’s block
-Tune into your centers of intuition, truth & stability & apply these to your creative process
-Set goals, manifest creative projects, and take the pressure off by silencing your inner critic and moving into a space of non-judgement & freedom to pursue your most creative self!

Each class include special freebies like at home exercises and practices, mp3 files of meditations, and outside reading to deepen your practice.

Woohoo! Join me! I’m so excited to meet you on the mat as we pose & prose!

Questions? Let’s chat! Email me at courtney at omandink dot com.

Check out this short video I created about the series.

To expressing, experimenting & intuitive processing,

c amber

FeatherPenJournal____

Yoga & Mediation For Writers – A Six Class Series

Click here for class descriptions & details

Upcoming Offerings:

Yoga Vista Studio, Vista, CA: Sundays 2-4 beginning July 10th! Pre-registration perk: sign-up for the entire series and receive an entire free class!

San Diego Writers, Ink, Point Loma, CA: Sundays 2-4 beginning September 18 (link TBA)

*Keep an eye out on my ‘Work With Me‘ page as new offerings will continue to be added*

Shifting Seasons – The Poetry of Spring

Author:

With Spring comes an explosion of color and profusion of seasonal visitors: heirloom poppy buds morphing into blue flowers as if Papier-mâchéd, dragonflies of all varieties riding the stained glass pinwheel next to a koi pond, crimson kangaroo paws aglow in star faced blossoms.

The landscape is alive in transformation.

KangarooPaw-OmInk

Writing Prompt: Poetry and color, transforming landscapes and temperatures: April inspires me. What does she do for you? Write a letter to April grounded in your sensory experience of this month. Spend time outside to observe and tune into all your senses.

To the poetry of spring,

Courtney Amber

ps – Stay tuned for my next blog post, which looks further into the poetry, during National Poetry Month.

Creating Joy

Author:

Last night’s full moon, traditionally called the Snow Moon, is also known as Shoulder to Shoulder Around the Fire Moon by Native Americans. The belief is that relationships in every avenue of your life will prosper if you welcome everyone around your fire. Embracing all with warmth and affection in turn brings joy into your own life.

IMG_2363

The significance behind this moon felt especially profound to me—this weekend, my only sibling, my younger brother, is getting married. And, with this wedding, we join another family with him, a ceremony that brings more people around my fire.

Last night, I stood shoulder to shoulder with my partner, father, mother, and my aunt from Minnesota, whom I have not seen in 11 years, watching the full moon rise, bathing us in its brilliant light, surrounded by boulders and avocado trees.

We stood there, linked by shoulders, breathing in the qualities of moonlight: coolness, receptiveness, and inward reflection. And, most importantly, joy.

A friend visiting from South Africa, who I was blessed to meet in my yoga training, told me about the significance behind this full moon. Yesterday, I themed my gentle yoga class after it—bringing in the energy of the full moon and asking students to metaphorically invite those they wish to join them around their own fires.

Writing Exercise: I invite you to do the same. Who do you want to invite to sit shoulder to shoulder with you around your fire? It could be family, friends, acquaintances, colleagues, pets, or qualities you would like to cultivate in your life such as peace or stillness. Bring each into focus. Take a moment to imagine each person or quality sitting next to you, embracing them with warmth and affection. Capture in writing who appeared next to your fire and all sensations that arose. Set an intention for how you will embrace each of them.

To cultivating joy and brushing shoulders—I invite you all around my fire,

C Amber

Stoking the Creative Fire

Author:

The creative fire can be like a fever–a burning, thrashing furor that you can’t stop–what you’ve started has taken off, unraveling in brilliant pulsing light–and you are overtaken by the desire to keep up, to capture every spirited piece of this enchanting flurry unfolding before you.

am

But then there are the dry spells. The times when your creative fire burns low. But when you hit these periods of low light, there are things to do.  There is the mustering of will, the just do it attitude, the sitting in the chair shutting off the internet silencing the cellphone stamina, and the hard work of rubbing kindling until you have blisters and draw blood, until there is that spark.

My friend says she writes because she cannot not write. Even when she doesn’t feel like writing, she writes. She wakes up in the dark morning hours, her girls and husband still filled with deep breathing, the scent of sweet sleep, and furiously types to reach for 5 page daily quota. She’s confessed she would go mad if she didn’t. If I didn’t release it, get it outside of me, where would it go?

The writer who writes daily is productive.

This seems too simple. Annoying, really. But by writing a few words or sentences in a notebook to capture sunrise or a thought that links to another thought, you give your sentences, craft and work fuel.

And it is this desire, this drive, to wake in the early morning hours, to stay up late, to wander into the moonlight or barefoot into a stream, or dance to the beat of any drummer in your beautiful mind or the symphony that only you can wield, that draws out the wildness, that feeds your fire.

By writing, we automatically write more. Creativity is a muscle, the more we stretch it, the more we tap into it, the more readily it appears, the more often we are struck by its beautiful gifts.

For me, it’s like the excitement I get from an impending storm, the shiver that runs up my spine with the howling wind–the electric feeling that something is being stirred up, awoken from its resting place, blown to life.

Writing Prompt: What keeps your creative fire burning? What dims your light? Set a timer for a few minutes and make detailed lists answering both questions. Set an intention, in writing, for the coming week regarding how you will stoke your creative fire.

“Follow your inner moonlight; don’t hide the madness.” —Allen Ginsberg

Set aside time to write daily. Keep your pen warm and your flint handy.

To starting fires–creative, innovative, brilliant ones–that smolder and glow until you have to unleash them across a page, into the sky, or through movement,

c amber

Cultivate Creativity & Drive

Author:

Happy Lunar New Year! Today marks the beginning of the year of the Red Monkey–a year ruled by the creative, fun, and witty spirit of the monkey, and by the ambitious, willful, and energetic properties of the fire element.

I’ve created this guided meditation as a gift for you to draw in the powerful qualities of the coming year, and release anything that no longer serves you:

 

Writing Prompt: After listening to the guided meditation, take a moment to journal any images or sensations that arose, and detail your intention for the coming year. Write it in present tense. For example, ‘I am a published author.’ or ‘I am peaceful and self-compassionate.’ Read your intention aloud to yourself. Our goals, dreams and pursuits become real when we give voice to them. Give yours a voice and set it free.

In celebration of creativity, ambition & pursuing dreams,

c amber

Stay tuned for tomorrow’s post on feeding the creative fire.

Wish and Reflect on the Long Night Moon

Author:

The coming full moon, December 25th this year, and the last of the year, grants us a peak of clarity to look back at the past year. Native Americans call this moon the Cold Moon or Long Night Moon. It falls on one of the longest mid-winter nights, and has a high trajectory across the evening sky.

BWSurferWinterOmInk

Congratulate yourself on what you’ve done.

Look fondly on past memories.

Begin to mediate on what you would like to cleanse yourself of for the coming year, and what intentions you would like to set.

Find a time to journal about these things. There is something so affirming, so clarifying, and so meaningful about putting words onto paper (or in a Word document). Set a timer. Give yourself 10 minutes (you’ll be surprised at how fast it goes) to reflect.

Then step outside tomorrow evening to watch the moon rise. Breathe in its soft, cool glow. Set an intention. Say a prayer. Make a wish. Smile.

To moonlight, marvels & merrymaking,

Courtney Amber

Self-Care: Celebrating Winter Solstice

Author:

Today, December 21st, is the shortest day of the year and Winter Solstice. From here, days will begin to get longer. I like to see the increasing length of our days as promise and opportunity. As we verge on the beginning of a New Year, we receive more light, more abundance, and more clarity, as darkness slowly starts to fade.

CelebrateSolstice-Beach-OmAndInk

To the Native people, Winter Solstice is the way to celebrate nature’s cycles through light returning. Enjoy the evening by candles or other festive lights and do things that connect you more with those around you or with yourself such as reading, journaling, or playing a game.

This year, Solstice occurs on December 21st at 10:48 p.m. CST. It occurs when the sun reaches its farthest southward point for the year, giving the Northern Hemisphere its shortest day and longest night. If possible, celebrate the Solstice at its exact moment.

Imagine more light and possibility coming into your life. Breathe deeply, uniting your body and mind to the earth and its natural rhythms as we move toward a New Year.

Take time to meditate on your body’s natural rhythms and those of the world around you in this moment. Try this short guided meditation I wrote for celebrating Winter Solstice to tune into the gradual return of more light.

In Light & Love,

Courtney Amber

Writing Prompt: In many cultures, the sun is a sign of creation rising. Take a few moments to journal as the sun rises after the darkest day of the year, during the beautiful balanced hour between dawn and day. Let the words flow. Try not to think too much–just keep pen to paper and feel. Tap into the light within you, that deep center of intuition, and draw out an intention for your own creative prowess in the coming year.

 

Self-Care Guide: Tap Into a Bygone Era

Author:

Dear Reader and Self-Compassionate Soul, Welcome to Mid-December! In the next few days, try the below suggestions to reconnect to those who came before us–choose activities that move you away from technology and ground you in the present.

TeaSliderUnplug-OmAndInk

Give yourself a bit of a power outage. Spend an evening in only candlelight, or the light of a fireplace. Trace your ancestry back to the times when evenings would be spent sewing, drawing, reading, or writing letters by firelight. Soak in the simplicity. In yoga, the practice of sense withdrawal is called Pratyahara, and it is the precursor to meditation. We are often bombarded with stimulus. The more we practice minimalizing stimulus, and drawing our senses inward, the more we activate our intuition, a key aspect for creativity to flourish.

Turn off your TV and computer, and reconnect with the radio era. Make a cup of tea, grab your favorite blanket–anything that will make you feel cozy–and listen to a podcast (some of my favorites include The Moth‘s storytelling radio hour and On Being, which looks at what it means to be human). While you listen, close your eyes. This is the fastest way to bring your mind into concentration. Our vision occupies 40% of our brain’s capacity. Rest your eyes as you enjoy a story being told to you, or listen to a conversation you don’t need to participate in.

Spend an evening reading aloud. Read to a friend, a loved one, or to someone at a senior center. If possible, switch turns so the other person can also read aloud to you. Experience the texture and tone of their voice and enjoy seeing a story unravel only through your imagination.

I wish you joy in simplicity & letting your senses rest.

To peaceful evenings & basking in the benefits of past eras,

Courtney Amber

Writing Prompt: What was your experience with the above suggestions? Did any resonate with you? If so, in what way? Did eliminating stimulus and distraction spark your imagination? Explore how resting your senses and moving inward can deepen your writing and creative practices.

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Categories