Sunday, January 17, 2010

Jeffery Davis - Yoga as Muse for Writers- Part 1

Welcome, Jeff Davis, yoga teacher, writers' coach, and author of Journey from the Center to the Page.

Let's start with how you developed the connection between yoga, authentic writing, and creativity?
In my early thirties, I was in pretty bad shape although you'd have to peek behind my perennial smile and smirk to sense it. Work, work, work - that was my mantra. But my work as a writer suffered, and my body wore out, or vice-versa - the connections weren't yet clear to me. With a slew of emotional and physical hardships, I found my way fortuitously to a yoga class. I came back. And came back again. My body felt alive. I could sense "energy" in my toes and in parts of my body I didn't know I had. Within weeks, I could concentrate and meditate again. My imagination felt on fire.

Within another year-and-a-half, I resigned from full-time academia and entered my first yoga teacher training. My mind became more clear. My imagination, more alive. And my heart cracked wide open - frightening for a serious-minded male in his early thirties but necessary for a writer whose work was too intellectual and turgid.

With or without yoga, for as long as I have been aware of, my mind has worked avidly in metaphor. Yoga seemed to heighten my mind's ability to associate, and during that first training, my mind was forging immediate associations between yoga and authentic writing. I was also testing out my new-found knowledge on my own writing practice to see what worked for me and my writing.

Then, one of my first yoga teachers encouraged me to start a drop-in class that explored these connections between yoga and writing. This was back when I lived in Dallas. Every other Friday morning, 20-plus strangers and students would show up from all around. The results were wild and fresh, and I knew I was onto something both for myself and for others.

After teaching creative writing on one campus or another for - at the time - a dozen years, I felt as if yoga was breaking the teaching ground wide open for writers and students of creative writing. I traveled to Greece to study with Angela Farmer and Victor Von Kooten - also very encouraging of my studies - and soon moved to Woodstock, NY where I completed another training. Then, I traveled to Chennai, South India to study with my teacher Sri TKV Desikachar and his family of heart-centered teachers. All the while, the perennial student and writer that I am, I immersed myself in some of the core texts of yoga philosophy and started gathering thirty years of neuroscientic studies to see what parallels I could draw among yoga philosophy and practice, neuroscience, and creativity. The connections are overwhelming - which is why I tried to cover so much ground in The Journey from the Center to the Page.

How would a writer benefit from bringing yoga into her or his life?
Yoga brings a clear mind that becomes aware of itself. It instills that luxurious immersion, that deep concentration all artists and writers need and yearn for. It awakens what I call the felt mind - this is a term I've just stumbled upon in my own journaling and is not something I've written about yet except in a Yoga As Muse e-course. I distinguish the felt mind from the processor mind.

Let me digress a moment because this point is essential, I think. The processor mind wants to explain and analyze and compute and calculate and, frankly, conclude and wrap stories and poems and essays up before my fingers have even completed a page of writing. The felt mind slows down. I'm not a fan of automatic or quick writing or free writing, by the way. I'm a fan of slow writing, of a process that is so deeply felt that while writing your inner ears can hear the textures of words and your inner fingers can feel the textures of words. The felt mind feels. The processor mind is made of steel and sky. The felt mind is made of silk and sinew, of felt and grit. It mind wrapped in earth.

Several yoga practices quiet the processor mind. (Neuroscience has an explanation for this phenomenon, too.) And several yoga practices awaken the felt mind.

Yoga As Muse specifically is a way to help writers and artists become aware of their embodied mind's nuances so they can become their own muses. They don't have to wait for some mysterious muse to show up each blue moon wearing angel wings and blowing a golden trumpet. Those inspired moments - like a Miles Davis impromptu solo - require a lot of practice. Yoga As Muse offers that practice.

Thank you, Jeff, for the interview and the benefits I've found in your work.  In Part 2 Jeff will talk more about his book and workshops and his new Yoga as Muse E-Courses


 Yoga As Muse
with Jeffrey Davis
 This Yoga As Muse conversation and forum
will inspire you to discover how an energized body and expansive mind can awaken your muse.
Explore how specific yogic tools can remove creative obstacles
and how they can be woven into a creative practice and a creative life.
Come away inspired, refreshed, & well-equipped to emanate your creative spirit.

January 28, 2010 at 1 pm EST
FREE registration now open

Photograph of Jeffery Davis by Hillary Harvey

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