Talking turkey with Natalie Goldberg
Post by Chintana Ahlund
“Writing makes you alive and awake and happy…when something meets your human heart, it lasts.” ~ Natalie Goldberg
It’s the first Thursday in December and Thanksgiving was exactly one week ago. But good news, there’s more turkey (or in my case, tofurkey) to be had! This time it’s with Natalie Goldberg.
Back in September, Natalie jointly led a retreat in Santa Fe with Wendy Johnson called Fresh Ink: Walking the Path of the Writer’s Life where the two gave a heartfelt and humorous lecture on the practice of sitting, writing and walking.
It begins with Natalie sharing this:
I’ve sat for 35 years and we were sitting just now for 10-15 minutes. There I was, in my mind, making a turkey. I was really in there…and suddenly said, ‘oh’ and then I came back…We have an idea that zen is when you sit and go to nirvana…But it’s simply growing a relationship with your own mind and watching how it works…And finally getting bored with it and not being as interested in your thoughts…Becoming more interested in your breath or sitting with peace; growing that…But I don’t reject the turkey. It helps wake me up and makes the world come alive.
Words of wisdom to be taken away from this talk on zen and writing include the following:
- You can’t go deep until you go slow
- Sitting, writing and walking connects you to the world
- Consider what is an anchorage for you?
- Going forth in the world depends on some kind of an anchorage: sitting, writing, growing food, etc.
- Practicing in the lively container of the world requires an anchorage that both holds and releases
- Good-byes can lead to hellos
- Don’t believe your own mind too much; learn to co-exist with the critic
- This is a democratic practice that belongs to all beings
- Practice coming back, again and again, seeing the same things anew
- When you’re present, really present, all the poetry you need is around you
- Writing can be another way to light incense at the alter
To listen to the entire 40 minute lecture, click on the below link.
Also, Writing Down the Bones, is now available as an ebook. Below is a link to a brief video of Natalie Goldberg speaking in the moment and from the heart about writing practice. If you haven’t read this book, please do so. It offers endless insights on how to keep showing up to do what you’ve yearned for: to write and to know yourself deeply.