(To mark the second anniversary of Writing Yoga’s arrival in the world, I’m reprinting the post that I shared with readers last year. I hope those of you who have kept journals over the past year will find new ways to reflect on the peace that journaling and yoga have brought you. And I hope these thoughts will prompt new readers to reflect on the peace that they find in their journals and on their mats. Thanks to all for your support, and special thanks to Linda Cogozzo, my wonderful editor and publisher, for her ongoing faith in my work.)
Sometimes I wonder what might happen if we could hand out journals to all the people in the world and ask everyone to take ten minutes from their busy lives to write in the pages of their journals. What would they write? What would they say?
If they were starving, would the flow of words and ideas nourish their spirits, if not their bodies?
If they were fighting, would the words distract them from battle? Would they forget their anger and wounds and be able to see the beauty in their lives? In the world?
Would people find peace in their journals in the same way that I find peace in the pages of my journal?
This month marks the first anniversary of Writing Yoga’s arrival into the world, and I’m still amazed at how the moment I open to a fresh page in my journal, I feel peace descend on me.
It’s a feeling of peace that comes with a sense of possibility, a sense of what the future might bring. My pen moves across the page, and the world slows down, no longer racing by.
In the pages of my journal, I can take time to reflect on what’s happened in my asana practice and what’s happening in my life or just muse on the swaying of a pine tree’s boughs in the wind.
I can see the world in a different way–through my heart, not just through my eyes.
It doesn’t matter what may be happening around me–waves crashing on the sand, a motorboat speeding offshore, the blare of a boombox down the beach–I can open my journal and find peace.
That sense of peace, I’ve discovered, doesn’t come from cutting myself off from the world but rather from immersing myself in it.
Instead of swaddling myself in silence or distancing myself from the world, my practice of keeping a journal inspires me to move deeper and more fully into the experience of life.
Instead of being disturbed by the sound of an ambulance, for instance, I’ll notice the siren and feel a sudden compassion for the person in distress and for the people who are helping the person in distress.
Instead of finding myself impatient at the slowness of the check-out line in the local grocery store, I’ll notice a woman in a wheelchair at the front of the line struggling to bag her own groceries and feel a sudden sense of gratitude for my ability to walk and for witnessing the amazing courage displayed by someone confined to a wheelchair.
These are the kinds of connections that my journal helps me make.
I never know where my pen will take me on any given day. As long as I have enough paper and ink, or a fully charged laptop, I can go anywhere, explore any subject, ask any question, each word pulling me deeper into the world and into myself.
The deeper I go, the more peacefulness I find, a peacefulness that is, oddly, beyond words.
Each time we pick up our journals and begin to write, we are inspiring peace in ourselves and in the world.
In this way we are all journaling for peace, helping to bring peace to our souls, as well as to the world, one page, one word, at a time.
Here are a few questions to help you explore the notion of peace in your life and in your practice. They may serve as useful writing prompts to get you started, or they may inspire you to ask your own questions.
Find a comfortable seat on your mat or in your favorite chair, take a few moments to review the questions, select one (or more), then open your journal and begin writing.
Try setting aside a minimum of ten minutes for each question that you decide to explore.
1. How do your yoga poses inspire peace? Which pose do you find most peaceful?
2) How can you incorporate the peace you find on your mat into your daily life?
3) Where does peace come from? What needs to be present for peace to appear? And what makes peace so shy, so reluctant, to appear or make itself known?
4) If you had the power to bring peace into a troubled area of the world–a war-torn country, perhaps, or your own neighborhood (or even your own home)–where would you bring it and why?
5) How do you make sure peace will endure?
6) How do you act if peace is absent? What can you do to bring peace into the world?
7) Can you find peace in the tumult of the city? Can you find it in the quiet of the country? What attributes does peace have? Can you list them?
Note: After finishing your journal practice today, perhaps you’ll take a moment to donate a small amount to your favorite charity as a way of sharing the peace that your journal inspires in you. Thanks. -Bruce Black