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Earlier this year, I rediscovered my yoga practice. For those of you who don’t do yoga, it’s more than a form of exercise; it’s a spiritual practice meant to bring mind, body, and soul into balance.

For most of my life, I’ve celebrated and revered the life of the mind. From the mind all great inventions and creations spring: Van Gogh’s “Starry Night,” Einstein’s theory of relativity. Gradually, I allowed my spiritual practice to fall away, too consumed with what I was doing. I saw my body merely as a tool, not as something to be honored in its own right.

By forcing us to become aware of our bodies–every muscle, every movement, every breath–yoga reconnects our busy minds, our stressed bodies, our neglected souls. Its art is in its simplicity: The focus on breathing in and out, the holding and releases of poses. Even wiggling the fingers, flexing the toes, following the breath from nose to belly, draws the awareness. We release the worries of our day. The books to be written, tasks to be completed fall away. And in that space, mind, body, and heart become one. By the end of the practice, we stop chiding ourselves for our failings. We accept ourselves as we are. True, that feeling rarely lasts, but it becomes easier to cultivate with each breath, each posture, each intention.

At the beginning of every practice, my instructor asks us to set an intention. In November, our focus has been gratitude. What are we grateful for? In that space, there’s no room to overthink. I’m grateful for my body, my life, my job, my art, the simple blessing of attending yoga class each week and the kind souls who join me there. We can also dedicate our practice to something, if we choose. The options are endless. These are not goals, but intentions–simpler, deeper, powerful.

Such a practice can also be helpful for us, as artists, as writers. Too many blog posts and articles tell us to set goals. We create Excel spreadsheets and track our word counts. Ours is a very goal-driven society, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But sometimes, it’s not the quantity of words written. It’s the intent with which we write.

During our yoga class, the sun’s last rays filter in through the high windows. Candles flicker from all corners of the room. Wooden floorboards creak gently beneath our feet as we stretch and move between poses. Quiet music plays in the background. There’s no competition; we’re too focused on our own breath, each person reaching as far into the pose as she can. Like writers before the blank page, it’s just us. No one is watching.

If you were to set an intention each day as you sat before the blank page, what would it be? An intention isn’t a goal, a number, something measured, easily achieved or clearly delivered. It comes from a deeper place.

The next time you sit down to write, how would you answer this question: Why are you writing today? What is your intention?

This Week’s Mash-Up of Awesomeness:

Mila Ballentine interviews enchantress of tales Tonya Kappes in this inspiring interview.
Michelle Davidson talks faerie-tale inspiration in this guest blog post at Nicole Zoltack’s blog.
Wisdom and Whimsy: Join the bloggers over at the Fantasy Collective for a celebration of author Anne McCaffrey’s work.
Lisa Lin offers tips to keep the procrastination faeries at bay.
In the midst of NaNo, memoirist Wade Rouse offers authors 10 ways to stay true to themselves in publishing.
Graphic designer, photographer, author. Melinda VanLone does it all, and Diane Capri caught up with her to chat about her upcoming release.

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