One of the things I most hate about winter is the way it curbs my ability to be active. I’m not a terribly physical person – I don’t play sports, or belong to a gym. I do love walking my dogs and riding my bike, and the cold winds and icy pavements of winter have already put quite a damper on my ability to do either one.
Consequently, my body feels lumpish and stiff. There’s a restlessness in my legs about seven in the evening (the time we take our after dinner walks in the summer). My chest feels heavy, as if the oxygen circulating through my heart has thickened. And there’s a corresponding sluggishness in my mind as well. After a good walk, I’m always energized, my thoughts buzzing with subjects to write about. When I sit too much, even if I’m sitting at my keyboard, I can feel my creative brain going into sleep mode.
I suppose I could invest in a treadmill, or go off to the mall and walk laps. But for me, atmosphere is important…I like being outdoors, hearing the birds singing and the leaves crunching under my feet, feeling the wind in my hair.
I’ve just started reading Fruitflesh, by Gayle Brandeis, a really lovely inspirational book for women who write. Brandeis wants to “help other writers tap into the vast, luscious creativity that simmers inside all our bodies.” The inspirational essays in the book encourage the reader to focus attention on the body the soma, “the place where body and mind and spirit have no dimension.”
Our bodies are the repository for all our experiences, all our emotions, all our truest stories. We can capture our own wholeness, our own integrity on the page when we allow our fruitflesh to speak.”
The idea of body/mind connection isn’t new. Back in the late 1930’s when Dorothea Brande wrote her classic Becoming A Writer, she too advocated for regular “moving meditations,” as she called them. The morning walk to set the spirit and the imagination humming.
“Bodies are not nouns,” Brandeis writes. “They’re verbs.”
Yesterday I was reading Andi’s post in which she talked a bit about the dreams she has for the new life experience she’s about to embark upon. “One of the things that I’ve always wanted to do at my home,” she wrote, “is have a place for artists and others to come and find respite and sustenance. Part of that dream involves having house concerts and courses – yoga, writing, music – for people who need a quiet place to experience these things.”
Isn’t that a wonderful idea? Incorporating the disciplines of mind and body – writing, music, yoga – to enrich the experience of all? I’m beginning to realize the importance of working in harmony with all aspects of the self, and keeping my physical body in a state of healthy mobility is an integral part of maintaining that essential balance.
So, how about you? Do you find that physical activity inspires your creativity? What’s works best for you – walking, running, dancing, kickboxing? How do you get in touch with your body, and use that awareness to inform your writing? How do you keep your body and mind in balance?