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

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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.

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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

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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

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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.

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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

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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.

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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

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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.

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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

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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

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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.

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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

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

Self-Care Guide – Take a Hike & Listen

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Today, I invite you to take a hike.

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Choose somewhere different even if it’s a little bit of a drive to see it through new eyes. Choose somewhere you can become entranced in silence–in the quieting sounds of the natural world.

Bring a picnic.

Go with a friend or by yourself, but make a promise to be silent. This will be more difficult at the beginning as your mind chatters away. At the midpoint, rest, breathe, and listen.

Listen to every texture, every layer, and focus your attention on nothing but sound, allowing each one that comes into your realm of awareness to move in and out.

On your return hike, your mind will be quieter.

Stillness gives us inner stillness. The quiet of nature heals us.

Enjoy your picnic wherever it feels right and take time eating your food, being mindful of what each bite feels like in your mouth and how it will nourish your entire being.

To our environment & to quiet–I wish you happy listening,

Courtney Amber

Writing Prompt: Let the experience of a quiet hike purely centered around listening soak in. What was it like for your primary observation to be audio? What was your somatic feeling of this auditory curiosity? After, and only after, you experience the hike and its auditory wonders, capture your enchantment, your felt sense.

Recommended Listening:  On Being‘s “The Last Quiet Places: Silence and the Presence of Everything” with Gordon Hempton

Recommended Reading: One Square Inch of Silence by Gordan Hempton for an incredible look at the endangerment of America’s quiet places, and the soul-stirring necessity of them (Excerpt here)

Holiday Guide to Self-Care Days 9, 10, 11, & 12

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Hello beautiful reader! The next few days of our Holiday Self-Care Guide focus on the precious art of the handwritten letter.

John Steinbeck sent letters back and forth his entire life between friends and family. A friend of mine gave me his book, A Life in Letters, which is a nontraditional biography constructed through a collection of correspondence that traces his life. I highly recommend this book to those interested in writing–it’s an in-depth look at the author’s life and relationships, and includes his tips on writing.

In an age of emails, texts, Facebook, Twitter, [insert other digital forms here], there is nothing like being handed a handwritten card, finding one in a special place, or receiving one in the mail.

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A letter in your own hand writing offers a gesture that will be deeply felt and touching. You only need to write a few sentences—yes, do more than just sign the card!—and even offer an inspirational quote.

This practice of letter writing will also give you a chance to recognize those people on your journey who you are grateful for, and experience your past year through those that played a role in it. Below are four sets of people to write letters for, grouped by the next four days:

December 9: Acquaintances Choose five people who have made a difference on your life’s journey this year. Choose people who are not family or close friends, but instead those that you crossed paths with and have added some joy or taught you something—they could be a yoga teacher, the barista who you see often for your coffee fix, a doctor whose care helped you—and write each one a handwritten thank you note, acknowledging what their presence in your life has done.

December 10: Friends – Choose five friends who have played an important role in your journey and whose support has helped you during the past year. Write each of them a note expressing this gratitude.

December 11: Family Choose at least five family members to write letters to. These could be those who you wish to rekindle a relationship with, reach out to, or simply wish them well. Make these letters different from the traditional Christmas card in which you recap your entire year and instead focus on what joy they have brought your life throughout the year(s)—even if it’s many years ago—and send them this memory of joy and wish for joy in their New Year.

December 12: Someone Special Express gratitude for someone special in your life—this could be a spouse, partner, sibling—who you would not normally write a card of your appreciation to. Thank them for the things, no matter how simple or mundane, that they have done for you or helped you with throughout the year that have made a big difference.

Giving joy to others and letting them know that they impacted our lives needs no response—bask in the feeling that you get in actually writing the letters and sending them out in the universe for their receipt, and not in the hope of the lovely responses you might receive.

To pens, pencils, feather pens, and ink pots,


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Courtney Amber

If you are enjoying this Holiday Guide to Self-Care, I’d love to hear from you in the comments, and feel free to share with others you feel these posts would resonate with. To receive posts in your inbox, Subscribe at the upper right. So thankful for your visit and presence at Om & Ink!

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