"Phew, for a minute there, I lost myself."
Saturday, June 25, 2011
Rarely can anyone say anything better than Radiohead. Especially in a song called Karma Police. This is a line that I take to heart, and, more often than not, explains my state of being.
I've been "away" for a week and a half. I derailed myself because I thought I needed to. I had a deadline and that was my excuse not to take care of myself.
The good news is, I have finished my dissertation prospectus. I lie in wait to see if my committee will like it or hate it. You would think that this was where my neurosis would run a muck, but it's not. The actually writing process is where things go really, really badly. I can lose time, lots of time, when I get into the writing zone. My only focus is me and my ideas, my dreams, my hopes that I will affect someone. That goes for my scholarship and my fiction--else, why am I writing? But along with that desire to affect change, is the awareness that it will not be without its naysayers and critics. This is where the paralysis finds its trigger. This is when that voice starts chanting, "Who do you think you are? You think YOU could be a writer? A scholar? You think YOU have something to say that people want to here? Pshaw! Go back to your tiny little mind and your tiny little life and leave this to the talented, intelligent people."
Needless to say, food kept me company while I listened to that record play over and over. Occasionally, I got into the zone and wrote. Enough so that I finished the prospectus and turned it in. But I am more aware now than I have ever been of the need to start establishing some boundaries with this voice. I'm not going to get this voice to go away completely. At least not now, not yet. And right now is a critical time for me--and I don't have the luxury of letting this voice take over, not just because it affects my writing, but because I'm letting it destroy my body.
I know I have to find a healthier routine to integrate into my writing. I'll be working on my dissertation this year. It will be one of the hardest things I will ever do in my life. The other hardest thing? Lose [a lot of] weight while doing it. This double duty work is not to make it harder on myself over the next year, but to make it healthier. Both mentally and physically.
I'm lucky enough to be surrounded by friends who live unconventional lives, who try out new (or old) practices that aren't always mainstream. I have a friend who practices and teaches meditation therapy and dream interpretation workshops. She also facilitates generative writing workshops, does writing retreats in exotic and serene places. I have friends who teach kundalini and vinyasa yoga. I have friends who are experts in homeopathic therapies and acupuncture.
Over the years I have participated in all of these practices. And maybe I've only stuck with a couple, and not always consistently, but one thing that they have taught me is to pay more attention to my body and my environment. To work on being present and aware. To understand my physical and mental place in the world and how it is always moving and changing. To allow the process to unfold sometimes.
I have been participating in the writing workshops with my friend since she started them almost 5 years ago. I've also been her right-hand-woman on the writing retreats. We're having another one soon, and I'll talk about that in another blog (because that's a whole other set of things to address!). I haven't been to the writing series in a while. I've been trying to finish up course work and comprehensive exams for my doctorate. But after being gone for about a year, I'm signed up for another workshop that begins on Thursday. I'm pumped. Being allowed to create in that way that allows me to be vulnerable (as good writing should be) yet feel completely safe is healing and energizing. The three hours that I write like that, something besides my belly is being fed, and my belly is thankful, because it's tired of doing all the work. But I only allow myself those 3 hours a week.
When I take a kundalini class, my whole body feels clean and crisp. Fresh and nourished and quenched. I allow myself one class when I have the money. Usually about once every two months.
I used to swim competitively when I was a girl. I love to swim. I bet I have gills on my body somewhere, hidden. Swimming is my kundalini-meditation with water. When I swim, my focus is solely on my breath, my body, my movements. I love the way my body feels completely awake and my limbs hum to their own rhythm. I allow myself to swim only if I have nothing better to do.
My friend recently came back from a writing and yoga retreat. She's been to many. She's been writing and doing yoga and meditation for years. She was telling me about what a spiritual and rejuvenating time she had, when she said something that really struck me. She said, "I had heard it said for years that people 'practice' meditation and yoga. I say I 'practice' meditation and yoga. But this week, I just, for the first time, realized that the world 'practice' really means something. It means 'practice'!" And she's right. These are things that I have to 'practice' every day. Every single day. That's what affects change. But it's also the difference between mastering it. Mastering it is something different. Practice means practice for a reason. Mastery is an end in and of itself. Practice is a process, it is constantly evolving. It doesn't end. It shouldn't end.
I need to start integrating practice into my life. I need practice. I need to remind myself that my body is worth something. It's worth allowing myself those good practices. I'm worth the time.