Q & A with Lori Jakiela & Tonya Kapis on their New Writing & Meditation Workshops
Why combine meditation with writing?
Tonya: I have been working with Lori for 2.5 years with her writing workshop. As a yoga & meditation teacher I have offered meditation workshops at my studios and privately for many years. Lori asked me to take our writing group into meditation last Spring and the energy completely changed. Guiding the group inward prior to writing allowed the group to see what came up for them. Sometimes guides or past family members join you and highlight what you may need to release with writing. First in your mind and then allowing the creativity to flow with your writing.
LJ: I will do almost anything to avoid writing, even dust my house. I read an article in LitHub recently that said in order to be a writer, you must avoid the urge to clean. That seems right. Meditation helps me center my mind. It allows me to enter a kind of alternate plane where things like writing and art are possible. It helps me shut down the urge to attend to every nook and cranny and smudge and carpet-stain of the world. It also helps me, as a memoirist, get in touch with essential moments and memories my conscious, dust-the-house mind has either forgotten or suppressed. Tonya has helped me in my life and writing so much. I’ve been writing and teaching for 30 years, and I’m always learning and growing. Combining meditation with writing has opened up a kind of new energy and focus that has changed both my writing and teaching practices. I am excited for this chance for Tonya and I to work together and help others on their own creative journeys.
How has writing & meditation help you personally?
Tonya: Meditation has helped my writing greatly. Sometimes a thought will creep into my mind and instead of letting it go, I see where it takes me with my writing. Stress & Anger can cause disease in the body. When we allow a hard truth or something we don’t want to think about surface in meditation we can then take the energy of it all and let it go through our writing. As we go back and edit our pieces we can evaluate if we are continuing to allow it to cause tension or if we have moved through it and created space within the body to deal with it. I have written through many situations that I thought I was beyond only for them to creep back into my mind during meditation. Writing continues to help me process and let go of heavy energy with my writing.
LJ: As a memoirist and poet, my life is often the material that fuels my writing. But I have a hard time with vulnerability. Weird and contradictory. At times I blame this on the fact that I was adopted, or sick a lot as a child, which leads to all sorts of barriers and heart-walls but whatever. A writer’s work is, as Hemingway said, to write one true sentence and then write another. One barrier to writing that true sentence is fear, of course. Fear of unwrapping something we’re not ready to confront. Fear of being judged. Fear of not being loved. Fear of being loved. All of that. I think meditation brings a certain state of peace and acceptance with the self. It’s like the Planet Fitness for writers and artists – a no judgement zone.
What would you hope to accomplish with bringing writing & meditation together for new students?
Tonya: I would hope that moving through issues in meditation or at least acknowledging them will help students let go of the hold the past may have on them. Using breathing techniques may also help reduce current stress and also allow a safe space to be honest to themselves even if they wish never to share their writing in workshop.
LJ: The world right now is so loud, so unbearable in many ways. It’s hard to think that writing matters, that art matters, that any of us as individuals matters. The quietude and energy that meditation and writing offer reminds me that there is still a center within all of us and that center will hold. It reminds me that getting to truth matters, that sharing truth, when we’re ready to do that, matters, and that being alive and human on this earth is a miracle, really. I’d also like to help our students consider and write the hard things they may need to write, and do that in a safe and nurturing – and super-creative cool (thanks to Lou Ickes and the Brillobox!) space.