The word yoga means "union" in Sanskrit, the language of ancient India where yoga originated. Now after practicing it for few years, I do agree that the union is occurring between the mind, body and spirit. Indeed, through yoga I learned that with mental and spiritual well being, it would be easier to get motivated, get moving and stretch the limits in every aspect of our life.
One of the things I would like to relate to yoga is writing. The more I explore what writing means to me, the more I'm convinced that there are a number of important similarities between the lesson learned in the two endeavors which can transform life into one of joy, love and purpose.
Keep your balance. Yoga is really about creating balance in the body through developing both strength and flexibility. This is done through the performance of constant poses though the approach varies depending on the tradition you may follow. In writing, it means staying objective, open-minded and balanced in your perspectives and in your expression.
Make it a regular practice. The amazing thing about yoga is that your practice is always evolving and changing, so it never gets boring. Although the poses themselves don't change, your relationship to them will. When I seriously started writing a year ago, I encountered difficulties to make it flow. However, things would develop over times when you keep learning and practicing.
Keep breathing and smile. The practice of yoga depends heavily on careful and controlled breathing. Always have a smile in your heart is also a way to lift the burden out of your mind. When I write, it's very important to settle the mind and spirit in order to have clear and focus thoughts.
Encourage the noncompetitive spirit. One of the most difficult, but ultimately most liberating things about yoga is letting go of the ego and accepting that no one is better than anyone else. Everyone is just doing their best on any given day. To become a good writer, you need to develop a sense of humility though being humble is the most difficult of all virtues to achieve.
Health benefits. Practicing yoga helps you maintain physical and mental health. Physical benefits include flexibility, strength, muscle tone, pain prevention and better breathing. Concentrating so intently on what your body is doing has the effect of bringing a calmness to the mind, stress reduction and body awareness. For me, writing is not jut putting my thoughts on paper. It's a healing act that takes control of my emotion.
The experience of yoga and then writing really helps me to know myself better and to improve my abilities in a way than I would ever have imagined. Like yoga, writing is also therapeutic. It brings a new insights into myself and my relationships. It is completely relax and honest.
When I finished reading 'The New Diary' written by Tristine Rainer about six months ago, I wanted to start my own diary immediately. However, taking first steps was not always easy. I had to consider where was the best place to start writing a diary and how I could maintain it? So, after careful and thoughtful consideration, on January 7, 2010, I decided to set up a blog and keep a diary.
WHAT IS THE DIARY? According to Tristine Rainer, the diary is the only form of writing that encourages total freedom of expression. Because of its very private nature, it has remained immune to any formal rules of content, structure, or style. As a result, the diary can come closest to reproducing how consciousness evolves.
WHY WRITING A DIARY? As a new writer, I need more room to practice in order to improve my writing skills. Definitely, writing a diary will allow myself to write spontaneously and honestly following my intuition, my thoughts and my feelings. I would also have chance to experiment more with the knowledge I've learned from Rainer's book. On the other hand, I'm still stuck in the middle of my memoir writing and yet need a bit of confidence to continue. I believe that keeping a diary would at last help me gain the confidence I need.
WHERE TO BEGIN?
1. Begin with the recent period. This approach will keep us in touch with the immediacy of our life. Where are we in our life now? How do we live? What are we feeling, thinking and experiencing? What do we care about? What is the significance of the present moment on the context of our life? And, what do we desire?
2. Begin with a self-portrait. Rather than begin with a detailed autobiography, write a description as how we see ourselves at the present moment. What recent or past events of our life have contributed to the person we are today? And where do we think our life is leading?
3. Begin with the day. This is a valuable exercise to describe each day of your life. However, this daily description could become exhausting and dull if we just write our daily activities. So, begin with a selection of outpouring of strong feelings if we are happy, or exited, or angry, or lonely, or sad, or record a dream, a statement of purpose in keeping the journal, a drawing, or anything else that comes to us.
BASIC DIARY DEVICES
There are four natural modes of expression:
1. Catharsis. According to Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary, catharsis is the process of releasing strong feelings, for example through plays or other artistic activities, as a way of providing relief from anger, suffering, etc. The use of the diary for catharsis, or emotional release is to free ourselves from excessive negative feelings, such as anger, confusion, grief, etc. Putting the pain the diary keeps it from destroying our life. For example, it could be as simple as a statement as, "I hate you!" or "I'm crazy without you!" Then we could elaborate it up to the length we desire.
2. Description. Perhaps this is the most common and familiar form of expression in diaries. It includes any narrative account of events, feelings, dreams, people, places, or anything that derives from our life experience. Description doesn't transcribe reality; it re-creates our view of experience. We can describe people, places, aspects of nature, human interactions, works of art, books we have read, or films we have seen in a way that is more interesting according to our point of view.
3. Free-Intuitive Writing. Free-intuitive writing is primarily an intuitive language conveying a message from the inner consciousness. For example, we might consciously ask ourselves, "What is bothering me?" and allow a voice of wisdom from deep inside to answer in its own imaginative language and uncensored words.
4. Reflection. Reflection is an observation of the process of our life and writing. It can also be called musing, self-observation, or contemplation. It is characterized by the psychological perspectives. It tends to deal with the general and the overall perspective, unlike description which concentrates on the physical and the specific. The combination of both description and reflection will make your writing emotionally and intellectually fulfilling.
For me, after writing a diary for more than a month, I now gain confidence and have chances to really practice and improve my writing skills. Without doubt, keeping a diary will give us an opportunity to express our thoughts, our feelings and our experience. It also help us dredge up memories from the depths of our mind, both consciousness or subconsciousness. So, would you like to start writing your own diary?
After Toastmasters meeting last Tuesday, I had a short chat with my best friend, Lina. When I told her my intention to gradually move this blog to Wordpress, she objected.
"Please don't delete your blog, Vin."
"But, it will be more efficient for me to maintain my blogs under one roof, Lin," I said
"It doesn't matter, Vin. At the same time, you still can maintain identical blog contents both with Blogspot and Wordpress. And it's very easy."
"Okay, but why do I need to maintain two blogs with same content but different providers? The only difference is the title. One is in Indonesian and the other one in English."
"The names of your blog! That's the main reason."
"But, I don't want to re-type everything here, Lin."
"You don't have too, Vin. Just copy the writings from any places and paste it here."
"Are you sure that I can do that. I did try once but was not successfully paste them here. It turned into a mess and I had to retyped everything. That's why I'm not so enthusiastic blogging here," I explained my reason.
"Believe me! What you need to do is just copy your writing and paste it to Blogspot."
"Okay, I'll try, Lin."
Today, after surfing for hours I decided to give this blog a new look. Lina was right, I could easily copy my writing from other places and paste it here.
First of all, I would to thank you all for visiting my blog and reading my postings. Today, after almost a year blogging here, I realized that I should be more productive to have regular updates. So, after thoughtful consideration, I have decided to move this blog to Wordpress.com to join my other two Indonesian blogs there, i.e. SANG KUDA API and BUKU HARIAN SANG KUDA API.
Of course, it was a tough decision of whether to still maintain it here or move it to Wordpress. However, for the reason that it would be easier and more efficient to put all my blogs together under one roof, I determined to eventually move forward. Please note that name has also been changed to THE FIRE HORSE.