In a deep ravine, far from the town and trails, I take a rough route over ground that, a month ago, was creek-bed. After waking to more news of Corona virus, I’m restless, need to keep moving. Then I come to an obstacle. A huge tree, struck by wind and rain, fallen overnight from the cliff, explodes now all around me in fireworks of new green. My fear-of-Corona-virus-fueled, fight-or-flight response is stilled. Stopped in my tracks, I feel my senses soar.
I burrow into the still-alive scent, find a limb to perch on, take out my notebook and pen. In this bower, my heartbeat slows. At rest, I go deep into a presence I’ve known only from far—the chlorophyll blood of a great tree, a growth-system far older than I am. A life.
I stay a long while, nurtured by the tree, feeling the keenness of it, of its massive knowing of this place. For over a hundred years of storms, often near starvation, it has remained calm, an icon in the distance. Now at a moment of great human stress and need, Nature has found a way to offer it closer, to surround each who comes near, as a mother would her child. I am cradled, I allow this love to touch my soul. I write, so this moment may reach my future self, and others also.
Those who write are like you [God]. They long for the eternal. -Rilke
For as long as Mankind has recorded thoughts, writers have found a creative pause in Nature. Whether a simple haiku folded into a robe or commandments engraved on stone, both writer and reader can take deep inspiration from the process.
Far more than a quick Selfie, a written response explores the range of the experience. It both saves an instant from being lost in time, and holds on to the live matter of the writer’s feeling. If shared, both writer and audience can return to that moment and draw healing from it. What’s more, as many studies on volunteer work have shown, the process of sharing is a healing act.
The Corona Virus has happened so quickly, we can’t imagine life a week from now, let alone for eternity. Yoga for the Mind and Writing to Heal are practices that I’ve benefited from as a writer and teacher since my twenties. Now, during the pandemic I’m returning to them more often as a way to stop the rush of time, and become centered. Writing in this way, I find confidence and connection in a time of isolation.
CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS AND FREE VIRTUAL CLASS (See Course Outline and Instructor Bio below)
Why be Creative Now?
1)An Opportunity to End Isolation
At moments of change or crisis in our lives, our protective shell slips open, and we become vulnerable. For those of us who’ve become set in our ways, this can be a time of growth or rejuvenation.
For example, before the pandemic, I and many of my companions considered ourselves complete and our situation fixed. We rarely interacted with or thought about those whose circumstances were different. Looking back, I see that, like many comfortable people, we were in a kind of self-imposed isolation. Now, that I know how vulnerable I am, I’m more sensitive, aware and open to what is happening around me. Far from feeling cut off by the virus rules, I’m reaching out virtually and connecting as never before.
2) A Chance to Move beyond Boredom
Another valuable side effect of change, even the challenging kind, is that it shakes us out of numbness. I’ve known people who could afford to travel anywhere in the world, but who would come back with a shrug, as though nothing could lift the weight of their apathy. Wealth, and waiting to be entertained, can be suffocatingly passive. Creativity is active. Now that we are all ‘grounded’ by Covid-19, let’s travel through our imaginations, liberating our unique response to the world.
3) Being Creative is a form of Self-Care and Caring for Others
The Gift by Lewis Hyde has been cited by Margaret Atwood and many others as what inspired them to share their creative work. Sharing is part of many religions, as part of becoming ‘holy, from the word ‘whole’. When what you share comes from your inner creative impulse, you develop a sense of your own value as an individual. In addition, you transcend your separateness by touching the spirit of another. In this way, all forms of art are therapeutic.
4) A Free Virtual Class to get you Started (See Course Outline and Instructor Bio below)
I’d like to invite you to join me for a free virtual class, YOGA FOR THE MIND, the pilot for a series of virtual ‘infusions’ I’ll be offering called Write to Heal. It will benefit those who love to write, but is also simple enough for those who just want to explore the benefits of a creative process. Originally, I’d planned to give this course in person, but we’ve all had to change gears due to the rapid onset of the pandemic. To those already regitered, I apologize for the wait, but am excited to tell you that the course has evolved considerably. Writing to Heal is a new, highly-valued genre, and I believe it will take us beyond the limits that those who want to become more creative often face.
HOW IT WORKS: If you’re interested in the free virtual class,you can choose from a range of participant levels. These range from a ‘watch-only’ approach, remaining entirely unseen, or full participant level.
Those who opt to participate fully will be invited to submit their Haiku after taking this class. Once you’ve had a week to respond, your pieces will be considered for (optional) posting on our WordPress Internet Site.
BOOK YOUR SPOT: If you’re interested in taking the free class, email me (Stella) at firstname.lastname@example.org
3 very short pieces of info will enable me to reply with you access code to the free class on Zoom:
1)your name and first initial of last name
2)times when you’re available (this is a LIVE virtual class)
3)quick summary of any publication history (None is fine!)
WRITE TO HEAL Part 1: Course Outline Copyright Stella Body April 2020
Infusion 1: Yoga for the Mind (Eastern Haiku) FREE CLASS on ZOOM and CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS: NEW HAIKU ONLY
Often called, ‘Yoga for the Mind‘, this early form of nature writing was developed to condense a mindful experience and make it more intensely felt by both writer and reader. We’ll explore how the simple structure and its rules on subject matter can help us become more focused, and hone the power of our writing .
Infusion 2: The Modern Ode
The passion we feel to create and give praise can be directed beyond a human subject. Explore your intense relationship with nature or any healing aspect of life by using on a very direct, focused form.
Infusion 3: Increase your Reach
We’ll find the Animist strain in the Greek and English Romantic masters, then use their techniques to send our writing spirit beyond what’s confined us in the past.
Infusion 4: Writing for Renewal
Kandinsky’s “Exploring the Spiritual” turned art on its head and made the world think. We’ll apply the technique to our pens and find how our writing canl ead to growth for us, our readers and our community.
Infusion 5: Direct Address
Whether it’s one of Shakespeare’s characters, a Tragically Hip song, or the latest Podcast, find out how choosing a purpose can energize your writing voice.
Stella Body, M.A. (Lit.) University of Toronto, Ontario College of Teachers, is a writer, teacher and adult educator, certified as an instructor to the College level. She has published three books of nature writing, including Keeping the Earth Alive, with art by internationally acclaimed painter Robert Bateman. Magazine publications and prizes include ARC, Prairie Fire, Grain, and Fiddlehead. Awards include four scholarships to the Banff Centre, twice reaching the shortlist for the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) literary competition and aired on CBC Radio. Her WordPress blog, Gifts from the Trail, focuses on Nature, creativity and mindful wellness.
Having lived on four continents, Stella speaks five languages. Her teaching experience includes work since 2009 with multicultural students at the Peel School Board and as a professor of international journalism at Sheridan College. She also works freelance as an editor and writing coach to help authors get published.