I’ve been participating in a fiction writing seminar for the past two weeks taught by Bernice L. McFadden, author of Sugar and The Warmest December, at the Art
Sanctuary in Philadelphia, PA on Tuesday evenings. I’ve been enjoying the in-class exercises and the homework assignments Bernice has given us students that have challenged us think and expand our writing. The environment is so respectful, open, and tranquil, allowing everyone to feel comfortable to express themselves. Before we started yesterday’s class, some students were feeling a bit overwhelmed by circumstances occurring in our personal lives, including me. I was feeling stressed out from studying for graduate school and adjusting to my new job as a Behavioral Assistant for a non-profit agency. Bernice gave us an exercise where she asked us to close our eyes and slowly inhale deep breaths through our noses. She asked us to exhale through our mouths, releasing any thoughts, feelings, and emotions that may interrupt our creativity. We repeated this act several times until everybody felt relaxed and focused.
Bernice’s breathing exercise is very similar to the Standing Deep Breathing posture, also
known as Pranayama, which I’ve done in Bikram’s yoga. For those of you unfamiliar with Bikram’s yoga, it is a series of 26 yoga postures that is conducted in a heated room where the average temperature ranges from 90 to 105 degrees for 90 minutes. Yes, 26 postures, 90 to 105 degrees, and 90 minutes. It is not for the faint at heart. Anywho, students are required to stand still and straight, lower body together, fingers clasped and resting underneath their chin while touching their elbows. The instructor tells them to swallow several times before requiring the students to inhale deep breaths through their noses
while raising their elbows to their shoulders. Students exhale through their mouths while pushing their heads back and bringing their elbows back together. There are ten repetitions for Pranayama and it is repeated again before moving to the next posture. The physical benefits include preventing respiratory problems such as bronchitis, emphysema, and shortness of breath. The mental benefits include releasing any negative thoughts from the mind so that students will have focus throughout the session.
I’ve often said that writing is my therapy. When I’m having a bad day, I’ll pull out
my journal and start writing to get my mind away from my troubles. Unfortunately, the negativity will come creeping back into my thoughts, which interrupts my flow. I’ve tried to suppress those thoughts by listening to some music on my iPod or having a glass of Pinot Grigio or Moscato (whatever’s available in my wine rack). What if I took several moments to meditate by taking deep breaths before I begin writing? Would it eliminate or reduce the negativity altogether? Pranayama enabled me to focus on my mind, body, and
spirit when I’m doing Bikram’s yoga. Last night, my concerns didn’t bother me and I was able to concentrate and feel creative in Bernice’s class. By the way, it also worked again for me today before I started this blog.I think I will challenge myself with this exercise the next time I start writing. That’s an excellent idea because when I get into my creative mode, I should feel relaxed, calm, and focus. I shouldn’t rush into it haphazard when I’m feeling down and depressed just to release tension. The negativity still lingers, waiting for the opportunity to strike so that it can interrupt my flow.
For any creative folks out there in cyberspace, do you take a moment to meditate and breathe before you begin your creative projects? Does it work for you? Why or why not? Please share your thoughts with me because I welcome any feedback or suggestions. Thanks.
Take care and be blessed.