When you think about things that heal, what comes to mind? Medicines? Exercise? Talk therapy? Nutrition? Massage or other body work? Yoga?
What would you say if I suggested writing as a way to heal?
Last week, I brought the poem, Queso de Patas by Benjamin Garcia to my writing groups (you can read it here). The poem was intended to connect us more deeply with our five senses, inviting us to write from that primal, human place. After hearing me read my piece aloud on Friday, one of my writers said:
“This just shows the healing power of writing.”
Yes! When we let writing prompts take us to the vulnerable places that need to be healed, we are often surprised about what comes out. Things like grief, anger, and fear are released. It’s like the old wounds are drained word by word.
And when we share what we have written, the healing power is exponential. Because although we definitely need time alone to reflect and rest, we need a healing community to complete the circle.
The piece I wrote completed a circle for me that I didn’t realize was there until I wrote about it. Maybe sharing it with you will extend that circle.
The yoga studio is the realm of bare feet. This bare-footed comradery was the communal yoga experience for decades until the shut down of 2020. In March, someone declared that practicing indoors with other people was non-essential and dangerous. The shift was so rapid, I still find it amazing that we as teachers found our way onto Zoom so quickly. In less than two weeks, we had moved the “studio” into our own homes, using our personal computers to teach to little black squares, people suddenly shy and reserved about being seen doing their practice.
There is something about the big, electronic eye, isn’t there? Being watched in this way is eerie. When in a class full of people, everyone but the teacher has their eyes on the mat with only an occasional glance at their neighbors. And even the eyes of the teacher recede from consciousness as the rhythmic hum of breath and movement encase the room. When we practice together, we breathe together, and there are not many things as powerful as that.
Of course, breathing and feet are not always the most compatible dance partners. I remember unlocking the front door of the studio after it had been closed up for a few hours between my evening class and the more vigorous morning classes and walking straight into the wall of waft. Foot smell,the pungent memory of a practice well-done. I crinkled my nose and thought, “time to get out the essential oil spray!” and got to work.
The smell of shared humanity is something I didn’t think I’d miss, but it, like the chiming of the indian bells hanging from the door as I opened it and the feel of the bare wood floor under my own bare feet, were the container for my practice – our practice – for nearly 20 years of my life. And more than the physical, it’s the energetic that is missing now. I have had to depend on my own energy to feed me for the past eight months. I have had to depend on the energy of only my husband and son at close proximity as an exchange of lifeforce, and I think we’re all withdrawing more than we can afford.
I did not know that this was how I felt about it all until I started writing about feet of all things, but I do remember when this all started, this shelter-in-place, this quarantine, this shut down of America. Although my naturally introverted tendencies rejoiced, my nervous system felt like exposed wires next to a puddle of water. I felt especially jangled after teaching my first few yoga classes online. I remember the loss of peace that I used to receive after teaching in-person. I have become used to teaching online and see the value in it for me and my students, but I also feel the grief. I can’t believe it, but I long for the smell of other people’s feet.
Before I go, here’s the strange thing I’ve experienced with writing groups online. It’s different from yoga. For me, there is an intimacy in writing online together. We start another series in January (look for dates to be announced soon).
I’d love it if you joined us to experience the strange healing power of writing in community.
With encouragement and support,