Closing down WOWH on the 1st of October

Kaspa & I are just back from a rainy holiday in Yorkshire, and one of the things we realised on our trip is that the time for Writing Our Way Home is drawing to a close.

We have had many very happy years running WOWH – writing courses and working with lots of lovely students.

In recent years we’ve been prioritising other projects such as running the temple and our own writing and creative work. I’ll write again with news of where you can continue to find us, but for today I want to let you know that all our courses on the site are now half price and will continue to be half price until we close the site on the 1st of October.

If you’d like to write your way towards healing or aliveness, take 31 days of joy, gratitude or positive action, work with journalling or any other of our 11 courses, it’s now or never!

All the courses are here, and do let us know if you have any questions. Just sign up whenever you’d like them to start, any time between now & the end of Sep (you could even get two in if you’re quick!) I’ll be writing again with a final reminder.

We’ve SO enjoyed working with you all, and we do hope you’ll keep in touch in other ways.

Very warmest wishes,
Satya & Kaspa

On being lazy

Lazy catFirst, I’ve made a video offering for you today: watch me here and then maybe buy a copy of my new book, ‘What Helps: Sixty Slogans to Live By‘ for someone who could do with a little direction, inspiration or consolation. (That might be you.) Now – laziness!

I have always strongly identified as Someone Who Works Hard. When speaking to friends, I catch myself complaining about how busy I am. When I look back at a day crammed with work, I feel good about myself.

Recently I’ve also noticed that I am Someone Who Wants To Do Nothing. To hide under a furry blanket and watch junk-food-TV. To put off the difficult jobs or get someone else to do them. To stretch out in the sun until I feel muzzy.

Sometimes I am lazy. The word ‘lazy’ implies excess, like the words ‘greedy’, ‘mean’ and ‘arrogant’. Lazy is when I over-indulge in rest. Greedy is the second bowl of ice-cream I eat after desert, and mean is when I don’t put any money at all into the donation bowl. These activities have a compulsive element, which means that they are being employed as an emergency measure. They are our best attempt at giving ourselves some of the comfort we’re desperate for, of dealing with our exhaustion, or of keeping us from feeling something.

Of course, there is a middle way in here. A place between workaholism and avoidance, a healthy balance of doing and not-doing. I inhabit this space too, and I manage it more and more as time goes on.

I suspect that what helps me to find this middle way is owning my laziness. I have been in denial about being lazy for a long time. In order to sustain my high output of work, it was necessary to force the lazy part of me into a back room. I was taught that laziness was BAD, and so I disowned it. Unfortunately, we can only force parts of ourselves into back rooms for so long. When the lazy part is finally allowed out (or smashes through the door), it goes to town. It keeps me pinned to the sofa for most of the day, when I’d actually rather be having a gentle walk in the park or doing a bit of weeding.

If I can acknowledge the lazy part when it arises and be kind to it, it seems to pass through more quickly. Oh, I feel lazy this afternoon – it’s possible for me to take a long nap, so I will. Oh, I really want to over-eat tonight – okay, it’s not the end of the world. It helps to be curious about why I might be feeling lazy or greedy – have I overdone it? Am I feeling sad about what happened last week?

It also helps to get to know the part that pushes me to work really hard. A really good question is: what does this part think might happen if it stopped doing what it was doing? That people would stop liking me? That everything would fall apart around me? I can acknowledge that part’s fears, remind it that it’s not on its own, and encourage it to relax.

As we get into conversations with the workaholic part and the lazy part, we help them to live alongside each other with more harmony. These parts of us become less polarised, and there is more ease in the system. Sometimes I work too hard, sometimes I get a good balance, and sometimes I am lazy. That’s okay. So how can we all get along?

Which of your qualities are you shoving into back rooms? What are the words you most often use to judge others negatively? What is the cost? How would it be to say ‘Sometimes I am…’?

My name is Satya and sometimes I am lazy. What a relief.

My trip to Kyoto

Kyoto five hundred Buddhas

(Writing Towards Healing is half price from today til the 1st when we’ll start, & here’s the introduction to my new love letter to you).

A few days ago I returned from Kyoto, where Kaspa and I had spent a couple of weeks on our first half-holiday half-pilgrimage to the city where our form of Buddhism was founded.

What have I brought home with me? Apart from a love of heated toilet seats…

We witnessed a lot of beauty on our trip. Five hundred Buddhas carved by a single monk over a decade, scattered through the woods behind his tiny temple. Geishas slipping through the streets of Gion. Bento boxes with nine delicious different dishes, presented like jewels. Calm temple gardens with their carefully shaped trees and shrubs, any stray leaves swept from the rich mossy floor as soon as they fall.

I will carry this beauty with me. But more than anything, I have been soaked in the spirit of the Japanese people. This is what has inspired us to spring clean our flat on our return (I won’t tell you how long we hadn’t cleaned our windows for…), and to raise money for a huge new Buddha for the front of the temple. This is what makes me smile as I type.

What is this spirit? It’s hard to put my finger on without falling into racial stereotyping, which can be dangerous. Japanese people are as various and surprising as people from any other nation. And, of course, there are always shadow sides to all cultures. But let me try.

What affected me most was the care and attention people brought to their work, whether that was directing pedestrians safely around roadworks, serving us in shops or cleaning the tiles outside the subway. People were deferential to each other – noticing what others needed, and frequently showing their respect by bowing. There was a quiet settled feeling about the place – no hurry, let’s do this properly and with love – which soaked into me.

I’m a real homebody, and I need persuading to leave my little castle/temple. It was so good to come back to the sangha & our animals. But when we go away, even if just to a neighbouring town, we come home with different eyes, and we can suddenly see what needs to be done. Not because of “oughts” or because of what other people think of us, but because we feel moved to, by love.

Where is it that fills you with inspiration? A local forest? The sea? The bench in your back garden? When can you get there?

 

Writing Towards Healing in March

A quick note to say we’re currently running Writing Ourselves Alive, and I’ll be putting Writing Towards Healing on offer for March – registration will open on 21st Feb. If you’d like a reminder you could always sign up to our mailing list on the right.

Look forward to it,

Satya

October – Find Your Way Home

flowersKaspa writes: This can be a busy time of year. I don’t know if it’s because of the academic year beginning in September, or the build up to Christmas and other winter celebrations, or just landing back in work after a more relaxed summer, but I often feel like I have a lot to do.

When my ‘to do’ list feels like its spilling out of my mind and I start to worry it can be tempting to jump onto the computer early in the morning and dive into some kind of work.

There can be a short term gain to this – I do get some work done; but there’s often a cost as well – it leaves me in a flustered, harried space where I’m disconnected from what’s really important.

This is why a renewed commitment to the practices that keep me grounded are especially important at this time of year: meditation, chanting, movement practices and mindful writing.

It’s important to me to make time to sit down with my notebooks. To write ‘bad poetry‘ or a letter to my higher power, or to spend some time using pen and ink to unravel some knot or worry on the page.

If I’m honest I’ve given to the temptation to jump into that harried working place more than I would like recently.

Offering a mindful writing e-course to you in October is also a way to get me back to my own writing practices.

Sign up now for October – Find Your Way Home – and join me for some mindful writing.

It’s at the special offer price of £9.99 GBP or $13.99 USD.

You’ll get a mindful writing booklet with reflections on mindful writing and prompts and exercises. You’ll get 28 daily emails, including a poem a day. You can join our Facebook group and share your writing with other mindful writers.

Sign up today and I’ll send out the materials on Friday so we can all begin at roughly the same time (if you sign up after Friday I’ll send them out straight away).

Read widely and often

13686397863_788745ee6c_zKaspa writes: The last time I posted on here I talked about writing lots and often. Today as I come to the end of a three week summer break I’ve been reflecting on the wisdom of reading widely.

Just before our break I went to our local library to get some holiday reading. I checked the opening hours before heading down and saw that the library was about to close. I jumped in the car, rather than walking, and when I arrived I stopped at the first table of books through the door: the new books. I picked some that looked interesting and vaguely literary without paying too much attention to what they were. There wasn’t even time for me to look through the Sci-Fi books as I usually do.

What a great crop of books I came away with. One of them was a little too odd for my tastes but the rest were excellent. I’ve just taken them all back so don’t ask me for the titles… I *might* be able to dredge them up from my memory later – I’ll let you know sometime 😉

I’ve also had time to dive into some poetry again which was wonderful. Old poets, new poets, English speaking poets, poets in translation. Good stuff.

To read widely is old advice but that doesn’t mean it isn’t good advice.

Sometimes I read for comfort, going back to old favourites. Sometimes when I’m feeling more spacious and relaxed I read to open my eyes a little wider.

Reading widely encourages empathy. We get to see the world from lots of different points of views. It can teach us about style, and give us permission to find our own way of writing when we see how many different choices authors make. It can teach us the impossibility of writing a book that pleases everyone, as we’re disappointed in a book all our friends have been raving about (or the other way around). It can show us how many different ways there are of exploring some universal human truths, and how each person’s experience of those universal truths is special and unique.

Libraries and independent book shops are great for introducing you to new writers. Unlike online shops they don’t have algorithms set up to feed you more of what you already love. In amongst the shelves of real paper books there is the possibility of something different and unexpected

Keep enjoying the books you already love – but take a chance on something new as well.

 

Image: reading rainbow by emily kneeter

Tiny pockets of joy & rainbow socks

socksIf you’ve got ten minutes a day, an open mind & a tenner, I’d like to propose a swap – hand them over, and in return I’ll give you more joy for the next 31 days. The offer runs out on Mon 14th – read more & register here to start today.

One of the things you’ll receive is a chapter of my new book: Choose joy. Here’s an extract. I’m sending a little fragment of shiny joy out with this newsletter – it should take effect at some point today – let me know if it works! Sending blessings, go easy.

“Last year I bought some long stripy rainbow socks. Whenever I put them on, they made me happy. I wore them on a trip to my young nieces, hidden under my long red skirt, and they received rave reviews – when I got home I found some miniature versions online and put them in the post. My nieces were overjoyed, and that made me happy too. […]

Tiny pockets of joy do add up. What works for you? Crooning to your dog or luxuriating in a rose-scented glittery-bath-bomb bath? Planting a bright red cyclamen, or going to a coffee shop on your own for a gingerbread soy latte? Putting time aside to write or paint? Helping out at your local school? Sending your great aunt a hand-written letter? Baking cupcakes with your children? Grabbing five minutes to promenade in the garden with your coffee trailing steam before the chaos of your day?…”

Would you like more joy in August?

sunflowersGreetings. This morning Kaspa & I recorded a special (slightly ramshackle) video just for you – you can see it here. We’ve also decided to discount the 31 days of Joy e-course until Mon 14th – read more & register here.

Something that brings me a lot of joy is running WOWH courses. When people sign up, I’m happy that they have made a decision to put time aside to look at what’s important. I love knowing that people are writing small stones, and supporting each other in the Facebook group. It brings me joy to hear from people who’ve received insights & peace of mind from the course, and who decide to move forwards in a different direction.

This sort of ‘looking at what’s important’ is a devil to prioritise. There are a million things asking for our attention – tugging at us – they are noisy critters! How would it be to protect ten minutes a day so you can meditate, or read your novel? How would it be to create two hours a month to go out on a date with yourself and have a long conversation with yourself?

I want you to find the time and courage to do this, because I want you to make the most of your lives whilst you can. As part of our morning service we recite ‘time has passed with the switftness of light… it is already morning’. It is already August! Don’t delay – make some space for joy and for looking at the important stuff, whether that’s a course or some therapy or ballroom dancing or walking your dog or whatever you most need.

Keep in touch, sending love,

Satya

“He who postpones the hour of living rightly is like the rustic who waits for the river to run out before he crosses.” ~ Horace

 

Write lots and write often

Writing by Bianca Moraes

Writing by Bianca Moraes

Kaspa writes: I have started keeping a journal of bad poetry. I don’t set out to write bad poetry (who does?) but calling it a journal of bad poetry has taken away the pressure of performing.

These poems aren’t for anyone to read. I try and write at least one every day. Sometimes I manage it. Sometimes I don’t.

These aren’t calculated poems. There is a lot of value in practicing forms and in searching hard for the right words. But that isn’t what my writing needs right now. What my writing needs is permission to be rubbish.

I open the book. It’s a slim unlined notebook that was left behind when one of our residents moved out. It’s full of welcoming empty pages. The page is slightly rough to touch, like recycled paper. I have a favourite pen that I use .There is something about the ritual of using the same pen and the same book that feels supportive.

I have numbered each of the poems. For no good reason, but it helps complete the ritual.

I open the book and I just write. A line appears, and then another one. I don’t worry too much about changing words that don’t fit, although I have once or twice. Mostly I just want to keep the flow of words going.

Some days it feels great and I think that I might not be writing bad poetry at all. Sometimes it feels like I am writing bad poetry. But writing bad poetry is better than not writing at all.

I started writing bad poetry after reading “Why you should aim for 100 rejections a year” on Lit Hub. Kim Lao writes:

“In the book Art & Fear, authors David Bales and Ted Orland describe a ceramics class in which half of the students were asked to focus only on producing a high quantity of work while the other half was tasked with producing work of high quality. For a grade at the end of the term, the “quantity” group’s pottery would be weighed, and fifty pounds of pots would automatically get an A, whereas the “quality” group only needed to turn in one—albeit perfect—piece. Surprisingly, the works of highest quality came from the group being graded on quantity, because they had continually practiced, churned out tons of work, and learned from their mistakes. The other half of the class spent most of the semester paralyzed by theorizing about perfection, which sounded disconcertingly familiar to me”

My own project was nearly disrupted when I saw a call for submissions recently, and started to imagine writing something to send in. The writer’s block began to loom. I dismissed the idea of submitting and went back to writing bad poetry.

Maybe next year I’ll start collecting rejections too.

Write lots and write often.

 

~ Kaspa