Saturday, September 3, 2016

A time to dance

Yesterday was magical—one of those perfect late-summer days in the Ozarks, the sun not too hot, a bit of a breeze to boot. My family went apple picking; we had fun at the playground and on walking trails. And at the end of the day, I went to a class at the local holistic life center.

The class was described as a chakra dance class—in fact, it was “Chakradance,” a trademarked name for a holistic practice—but I have to admit, I thought the dance part was a metaphor. I guess it was the poet in me, but I pictured myself meditating, focusing on my chakras, thinking about dancing in a very figurative way.

The way the class works, though, or at least this installment of it, is that participants spread out in a dark room and they close their eyes. In just that way—all attention directed inward, no sense of what others are doing—we moved our bodies while focusing on each chakra in turn, root to crown.

I’m not disciplined enough to follow the rules precisely. I had to peek out between my lashes a few times, just to make sure the others were still there, that they were moving in similar ways, that they weren’t just lined up against a wall and silently laughing at my gyrations. You can’t be too careful, right?

But they weren’t. My lashy perspective revealed that they, too, were swinging their arms and swiveling their hips and moving their shoulders from side to side. And their eyes were shut, so they had me beat in that regard—not that it’s a competition.

I’ve been engaging with my spiritual self in a more focused way recently. I see it as a writerly practice—going inward to find both my inspiration and my discipline. Both are necessary to be a serious writer. Inspiration is no good if it never sits down; discipline does little without an occasional shove from the spirit.

Today I’ll go to church, and it will provide another chance for me to drill down into my core. No matter what my minister says—and she always says valuable things—the point is my taking the time to sit still and think about my spirit. Often I adopt an affirmation for the week—words that will take me instantly inward without a lot of preamble.

I don’t think it’s necessary to be religious to be a good writer. No one I know really thinks of me as religious, and my church—a Christian denomination, but one that encourages a personal approach and has no central shared theology—is looked at askance by many in my Bible belt city. Instead of church, I’m advocating a habit of mind—of deep exploration that doesn’t ignore the spirit, and that consults the center.

Writing is partly about good habits, i.e., going to the writing place (desk, chair, bed, floor) and, you know, writing—setting down some words. It is partly about the intellect, too—about thinking things up (and through) and being clever. I think the best writing transports the reader, though; a reader can feel connection sometimes not because the writer is a genius, but because you’re both tapping into something universal—the collective unconscious, the monomyth, the Godmind, or what have you. You don’t get to that place accidentally; you have to cultivate an awareness somehow. You can probably get there by reading Walt Whitman or by listening to jazz flute. Whatever works, right?

And that’s why I tried the chakra class, and it’s what had me spinning and waving my hula arms and doing a few seconds of the Twist—in the blissful and experiment-friendly dark, glimpsed, if glimpsed at all, through a forgiving veil of lashes.

Try new things in life and maybe you’ll try new things on the page. It’s not a bad plan—not a bad way to move through the world.

No comments:

Post a Comment