deep listening… is embodiment?

Writing, too, is ninety percent listening. You listen so deeply to the space around you that it fills you, and when you write, it pours out of you. If you can capture that reality around you, your writing needs nothing else.
You don’t only listen to the person speaking to you across the table, but simultaneously listen to the air, the chair, and the door. And go beyond the door. Take in the sound of the season, the sound of the color coming in through the windows.
Listen to the past, future and present right where you are. Listen with your whole body, not only with your ears, but with your hands, your face, and the back of your neck.

Listening is receptivity. The deeper you can listen, the better you can write. You take in the way things are without judgment, and the next day you can write the truth about the way things are.” – Natalie Goldberg, Writing Down the Bones
[note: i’ve bold-ed and slightly reformatted this quote]

this brings to mind a point James Clear makes in his book Atomic Habits about how if you want to write a book, practice the qualities of a person who writes a book:
“It’s probably someone who is consistent and reliable. Now your focus shifts from writing a book (outcome-based) to being the type of person who is consistent and reliable (identity-based).”

similarly, Natalie Goldberg seems to be making the point, if you want to be a writer, learn how to listen deeply — with your full body, with all your senses, going beyond the mind’s assessment of things, which is inherently limited by what it already “knows.”

as someone who’s wanted to be a writer most of my life, i’m captivated by these re-framings. they transform the idea of “being a writer” into a more holistic experience, beyond the mere act of putting words on a page.

for me, it makes the experience more tangible. i realize that this whole “writing thing” that’s intimidated me for years, decades even, is much less about being inherently brilliant, insightful, and naturally talented, but more so about showing up to the page every morning, no matter how i feel, and offering myself to the practice, time and time again.

it’s very knight of pentacles energy — consistent, hardworking, in it for the long haul, recognizes that big changes happen through small, daily choices.

and as unsexy as that might sound, i’m here for it. i mean, of course i have fear around “failing” at consistency, at letting my moods “get in the way.” but it still beats the previous framework of success as: be a genius!

this approach feels much more down-to-earth to me, which doesn’t mean not challenging.. consistency, for me, is deceptively hard.
but this process becomes much more accessible.. the dream is no longer a cloud floating in the sky, always out of reach. instead, it feels more like a plow on the ground, calling me to work the land, to give my whole body to the work from a place of dedication, of service, of practical Love.

my prayer for today is grounded in presence and intention, and deep listening from a place of embodiment. while also recognizing the need for energetic boundaries, because sometimes the world is simply too much (as a highly sensitive person, believe me, i know):

may we create space for the pause today, even if just for a moment, if just for a breath.
may we remember our nature as divine beings, and our reason for being put on this earth: service, Love, pleasure, growth.
may we continue to learn to trust ourselves, to tend to ourselves, to practice listening on a cellular level, so that every millimeter of our being can be felt.
❤ ❤ ❤

happy thursday, babes. much love ❤

Writing as Communing with the Page

I want the words to come easily, fluidly. I always want the words to come easily, fluidly. I want my thoughts to flow nicely and neatly, to coincide with my feelings in a symphony of expression and ideas, with a sense of understanding and nurturing development.

This has rarely been the case in my decades of experience with writing, or at least this is what I tell myself. Writing has felt like a sludging through thick mud on the way to a place I don’t even know if I want to get to.

But if I’m being really honest, writing has mostly been fluid and easy, nice and pleasant. This is why I’ve written so infrequently, so inconsistently — because I was waiting for writing to feel good.

What got lost in this waiting is the reality that I can find ease and pleasure in the midst of writing instead of waiting for it to strike me.

Much has been developing within me in relation to writing — understanding around what it means and how it works. This is in large part thanks to these women (thus far): Elizabeth Gilbert, Julia Cameron, and Natalie Goldberg (side note: if anyone has suggestions for women of color authors on writing, please share!).

I’m not far enough into Natalie Goldberg to know for sure, but I can speak confidently that Elizabeth Gilbert and Julia Cameron view writing as a spiritual practice.

And wow, how liberating, to view writing as something divinely inspired as opposed to an egoic pursuit. Trying to be a writer in the conventional sense has often been depressing, discouraging, and seemingly hopeless.

At one point in my life, I thought I wanted to be Ernest Hemingway. But then I learned he was kind of an asshole and (trigger warning), he killed himself. So, not exactly the ideal I want to work towards.

Even more relevant, I simply couldn’t work with this ego-driven perspective. I couldn’t feel sustainably inspired to write from a place of: my thoughts are important, are worthy of demanding attention. The “my” part made me cringe, made me turn off and turn inwards, away from sharing.

Part of this was insecurity and self-doubt, of course, but part of it was also a genuine and valid turning away from an overblown sense of self-importance. (I love the definition of humility as not making yourself too big or too small — it’s being right-sized. So, to be clear, I’m not against a healthy sense of self… nods off to AA for teaching me this one).

My writing feels important when it helps people. Everything else feels masturbatory, in service of me. Which isn’t to say I’m not here for journalling and solely personal writing — I’m saying if my goal is to impress people, to prove I’m smart and capable and articulate and can use big words, I’ve missed the point.

So, this new framework of writing really turns me on. It’s led to me writing every day, which I’ve only done rarely, in bursts, before it fizzles out. This perspective feels sustainable, and it also feels nurturing — writing has become a time for me to connect with Spirit, to listen deeply, to check my judgments at the door as I convene with the page.

I’ve also developed a deep gratitude for the page as a place of refuge.

The older I get, the more I realize my dad’s right that life is about relationships. And not just relationships with people, but relationships with everything, such as the page.

The page is kind to me. The page listens. The page doesn’t judge. The page is always here to receive me. And in turn, I do my best to honor the page and express gratitude and reverence for it. I mean, how lucky am I? That’s really how I feel at this point in my writing journey, which I’ve been on since I was a child (and am now 31).

Previously, the idea of being a writer felt like a goal forever out of grasp. These days, it feels like a calling, a given. It is the result of me showing up to the page and offering myself to it, and to Spirit, to be guided.

I mean, what a freaking relief, right?