In my last post, I described the Yoga Poem Project that seemed to take me by the heart and pushed me to complete it. It took two days to print out the pages (twenty-five poems, a Dear Reader page, a title page, an Acknowledgments page) on colored paper with colored ink and fancy printed titles. Another couple of hours to laminate and cut out the covers (thanks Jeri!), an hour to punch and bind the pages (thanks Pete!), then another evening for me to add the goodies and sign each one individually. Whew! As I explained to a friend, none of this is ‘work’, though I refer to it as such since it isn’t in the same realm as seeing a movie or going to a concert. Being that I am, I think, a poor judge of my own work (not that I think it is good or bad, but more along the lines of ‘not seeing the forest through the trees’), I didn’t know if the recipients would like it, or if they’d find more than the two typos I’d already spotted. I hinted to my mentor, who also received a copy, that if there was something in my writing that was way off the mark, that my understanding was lacking, that she point it out to me. She assured me I had everything well in hand and wasn’t concerned about my comprehension.
Everyone loved the project! I was offered hugs (and I’m generally not the touchy-feely type, which raises the question as to why I write Romance novels) and people were wanting to pay me more for the project than the stated price, which was only the cost of the materials. Perhaps because I work in a profession where validation is nonexistent, when I feel myself seek it outside the classroom, it really stands out in my mind. I’m always eager to hear what others think about my work, and I do consciously listen without defending (now) and then thank them for their feedback. It was interesting that a few of my fellow teacher trainers found themselves in the poems I’d written. I suppose that’s the same phenomenon that occurs when we discover our ‘favorite’ song or a piece of art in a museum that spurs us to purchase a post card in the gift shop that depicts the original. That there is something in creative works that ‘speaks’ to us, whether it answers a question, or asks it; reminds us of an event or person or place; or brings us a sense of peace, is just a fact. Maybe it’s not the work itself, but the feeling that arises within us when we see or hear it.
Writing these poems was quite different from spilling a story upon a stack of spiral notebooks. The stories just come. The poems were more ‘work’, but words flowed nonetheless. A few were rhymed and one in particular had counted, even-numbered syllables. The rest were free-form and very little, if any, of the words were changed once they were written. I did notice that many of them contained questions. Questions that I, perhaps, have asked, maybe subconsciously. As long as the questions arise, then the interest is there, which means the experiments will continue, and that feeds the transformation that spontaneously occurs because of a yoga practice.
As stated in the previous blog, my hope was that the readers/practitioners would use the project as a jumping off point for their own investigations. Some have already reported that they’ve followed my suggestion to keep it in a place they frequent and have begun doodling and adding to what I’ve provided. That brings a smile to my face. I’m appreciative of the feedback, but what I’ve discovered is that I have no attachment to this project. Speaking as one who has issues with attachment that creates disturbances in my mind (and often interrupts my meditation practice) this is huge. I recollect what the teacher at the community college said regarding when a poem was ‘done’. “You’ll know when it’s ready to be shared by others.” Whether or not my poems were ready for the light of day, my imposed deadline kind of forced the issue. Now the question is, am I ready to share it with others who may find fault with my writing or understanding?
This is where the practice of yoga is helpful, and what I practice as a creative person. I can practice Apriagraha-nonattachment-by sharing my poem project with those who don’t know me and are perhaps unfamiliar with the journey the teacher trainer program has evoked. I have no concern (well, maybe a little) for who might find it of value or whether others might judge it harshly. As a person who delves into their creativity, not as an act of will, but as an act of surrender, and reminding myself that I write to understand, whether or not others ‘get it’ is not for me to discern. It would be wonderful if everyone had something pleasant to say regarding a work of art, but that is not how our society functions. There will be critics. There always are. I write for me (yes, this is selfish practice, as I believe all creativity is) and it is just gravy when it touches another as it has me.
I completely believe that if I had shared my completed poems at the beginning of the eleven month teacher training program, or even in the middle, I would have crumbled from the effort or been paralyzed with the fear of judgement. And this, I’m absolutely sure, is the reason why so many others refuse to peek into the bottomless well of creativity. To dance before an audience, have paintings displayed in a gallery, play at open-mic night, or give your poems away for free is to open yourself in a way that is terrifying to our tender souls. But remember, for whom do you create? For what purpose do you write, draw, paint, play, dance, or sculpt? Check it out by noticing how it feels to create something and share it, then create something and keep it to yourself. How do you know when it’s done, when it’s ready to show itself to the world? When you can let it go . . . no attachment, no judgement, no criticism.
This project is not yet available to the general public, but other pieces are waiting to be read on my web site www.myjoyenterprises.com Besides this project that I’ve shared, my third book, Of Stars and Secrets, is in print and I’ve posted the Prologue and the first two chapters online. Take a look!!