In 2009 and 2010, I did a two-year ongoing group with Richard Farmer, my tai-chi teacher’s master. Our group met twice a year in Poulstone Court, an amazing retreat centre in the heart of Herefordshire in England. Each long week end was dedicated to one key tai-chi principle. Through various exercises which helped us to have a felt sense of those teachings, we dived in at the deep end.
One of those principles was yielding. When we studied that principle, Richard asked us to walk on the grass first.
‘Notice how grass yields to your feet. As soon as the pressure is off, it bounces back gradually. If you don’t yield and resist, you are more brittle and likely to snap,’ he said, while we had fun marching on the grass.
‘Now come and walk on this gravel,’ he said.
The fun was over straightaway. The small stones hurt my feet like hell, and I couldn’t wait to jump back onto the grass.
‘Relax, yield like that grass did. Let your feet soften around the stones. The more you resist, the more painful it gets.’
Believe it or not, once I managed to relax, it wasn’t painful at all. OK, I had to be slow and deliberate, stay present and relaxed, but it worked.
I was reminded of this teaching the other day when I was harvesting redcurrants in our garden. I was barefoot and standing on the grass was pleasant, but stepping on the dried up earth hurt my feet. So as I consciously relaxed my feet and let my feet yield to the dry earth, I wondered, what do I resist on my writing path? The thought that popped in concerned my academic writing. I haven’t had any of my academic writing published since 2013, when I left for my maternity leave with my son. Even though I know I’m a better writer now, it’s still daunting to write and publish an internationally excellent piece (it’s a requirement of my job to produce this quality). It’s been bugging me for a while: I’ve done the research, gathered what I need, read tons, need to read some more, and then sit down and do it. And I know once I get to that point, the writing part will be a lot easier than worrying about it.
Sometimes resistance hurts more than actually sitting down and doing something.
What about you, dear reader? What do you resist on your writing path to the point that it hurts? What is your biggest challenge?