Eckhart Tolle made me laugh out loud recently when he relayed a story about a yogini who said that she used to think of the body as a vehicle for spiritual awakening–equating perfect posture with divine alignment—until she met him. Tolle is no hunchback, but he is a former academic and he has the body of one who has long sat in an easy chair absorbed in a book. Not being particularly attached to the body or her judgment of him, he laughed easily at himself, using the anecdote as an example of the illusory nature of measuring progress on any particular path.
My mother enrolled me in ballet classes when I was a girl because she wanted me to have access to opportunities that she hadn’t. I took ballet and tap and jazz dance lessons until I was old enough to apply my skills during the half-time show of the high school football game with the rest of the cheerleading squad. I am accustomed to inhabiting and even presenting the body as a fundamental aspect of who I am.
I move when I write. I lie on my floor on my now-calloused elbows typing a draft. I lounge on my back on the couch with my laptop on my knees. I squat on a straight back kitchen chair and tap out an email or—in the case of this photo—I squeeze an asana in between sentences. The photographer who snapped this shot recently built himself a chest-high desk at which he can work on his nursing school lessons while keeping his femoral vascular blood flowing. He calls this photo of me, “Standing Desk.”
The key, I suppose—like any of the helpful hints we gather from other writers—is to figure out what works best for you, your body. I think the main thing is to remember that you have one, as a writer. It’s similar to the advice I give to my students at the beginning of every semester about continuing to return to the senses. We access emotions as readers through the bodies we have in common. As writers, we might honor that the material of our minds is not located solely at the end of our spinal cortex, but stems from the other vertebrae. For our prose to be flexible, our metaphors limber, we might be mindful of some integration between these fingers that type out phrases and the thoughts that roll under them.
Amy Wright is the Nonfiction Editor of Zone 3 Press and Zone 3 journal, as well as the author of three chapbooks, Farm and There Are No New Ways To Kill A Man. She won the 2012 Pavement Saw Chapbook Contest for The Garden Will Give You A Fat Lip, which is forthcoming.