I believe that having a committed writing practice not only helps us process life, but also helps us shed old thought patterns so that we can move forward in our lives. I believe it helps us to be well, get well, and even prevent illness. I believe that writing is a transformative and therapeutic tool. Does that mean that it helps us feel better? Not necessarily. Sometimes writing through our life experiences and musings can have us feeling worse. But here’s what happens most of all, and why I do the work that I do in my Haven Writing Retreats and Workshops: It gets those stories and thought patterns out of us so that we can look at it all and decide what we want to do with it. Burn it in the fireplace? Bury it in the garden? Put it in the compost heap? Turn it into an essay or a poem or a novel or memoir or short story or letter or email or blog post? Or let it back into our psyche, like a welcome guest, willingly and deliberately giving it nice thread count, organic down pillows, and a room of its own with a view. I’ve seen the act of writing change lives over and over again. Many of the people who come to Haven practice yoga, and compliment that practice with writing. This Haven alum has taken both of these practices to the center of her life, as both a yoga instructor, and a published author. I loved her take on the yogic aspects of writing and Haven. And I hope it will help you bring writing into your life as the powerful practice that it is. yrs. Laura
We have just a few more spaces left on our 2016 Haven Writing Retreat calendar!
September 7-11 (full with wait list)
September 21-25 (one space left)
October 5-9 (spaces left)
October 19-23 (spaces left)
To schedule a phone call to learn more about the retreat, go to the Contact Us button here.
Why You Should Count Writing as a Daily Practice
Laura Munson is the author of the New York Times and international bestselling memoir, This Is Not the Story you Think it is: A Season of Unlikely Happiness. While this book is not about yoga, its principles are yogic, showing a woman using self-reflective Tarka practice to write her way through a marital crisis. Tarka is derived from the Sanskrit word that means to focus on reason, conjecture, logic, and contemplation.
“Daily Tarka is my way of processing life,” Munson says. “Using it during a difficult time brought me into a great place of harmony, self-realization, and surrender. I never dreamed it would become a bestselling book.”
The success of her memoir brought her into the public eye as a sought-after speaker in the wellness circuit, with messages of empowerment, personal responsibility, and emotional freedom, and eventually inspired her to begin Haven Writing Retreats.
“Over and over I heard, ‘I want to use writing as a transformative tool too, but I don’t feel creative. I don’t have a unique voice.’ I knew I could help change that.”
Munson believes that having a regular writing practice is as essential as yoga and meditation in the path to mindfulness. It has worked. Haven is highly ranked among the top writing retreats in the US.
“How can you be in touch with your Om if you don’t know what your voice sounds like?”
Haven was unlike any workshop I have attended. First at Bennington College and later at Columbia, I spent years critiquing work and having my work critiqued: they can be cruel circles of banter.
“All-too-often workshops focus on what’s wrong. At Haven we step outside of good, bad, right, and wrong, and step into what’s possible and powerful about each person’s voice. You don’t have to be a writer to use writing to navigate this heartbreaking and beautiful thing called life. Just a seeker. Having a supportive teacher and positive community is crucial.”
While Munson is not a dedicated yogi, she believes that yoga and writing work together. “Writing helps you gain new self-awareness, while yoga helps get you out of your head and into your body to move the energy through.”
At Haven, Munson starts her workshop with a simple quote: “Writing is my practice, my prayer, my meditation, my way of life, and sometimes my way to life,” and she is clearly on a mission to bring writing into people’s lives whether or not they care about getting published. “I think writing should be up there with diet and exercise in the realm of preventative wellness,” she says with fire in her eyes from the ranch in Montana where she leads her retreats.
Haven is a unique combination of group writing, work-shopping, personal writing time, and afternoon activities: yoga, meditative silent walks, bountiful vegetarian food, and one-on-one sessions with Laura. In the morning class, we write through a series of guided exercises, helping us free-fall into our most emotional material. “The stuff that keeps us up at night.” We fill our books to the brim with scribbles, illegible notes, scenes, and a few tears. In the evening class, each of us has the opportunity to receive constructive feedback for our work.
Munson is stalwart throughout the day, making sure that we focus on writing. “Trust that the writing will be your guide if you breathe deeply into it.” I tell my Monkey Mind to focus on my breath, to go gently, and I do.
Munson chants: “Focus on the scene, focus on what isn’t said, focus on the details. Build the world so I can feel it and touch it and know it like you do. Don’t tell me about it. Show me.”
I respect Munson for not dipping into therapy the same way I respect this quality in yoga teachers. We’re here to be motivated to create a new, empowered, inspired, and committed writing practice, and Munson delivers. I am arm-in-arm with my muse, feeling the gift of what she has promised: a safe place to create in the wilderness of Montana.
I let go of being a professional writer, a yoga instructor, and all my fitness certifications. Munson has taken the snobbery out of being a writer and reminded me that writing is a tool for mindful living.
While Munson has been widely published and completed extensive media tours both in the US and internationally, she is not fooled by her own success.
“My job is to help you find your unique way of saying what you have to say. Your truth. Your quiet resonation with the universe. Your Om.”
Poses that increase creativity:
- Headstand, Salambasana Sirsasana
- Upward Bow, Urdhva Dhanurasana
- Half Moon, Ardha Chandrasana
- Head-to-Knee Forward Bend, Janu Sirsasana
Andes Hruby has spent 30 years as a certified fitness instructor in five disciplines and graduated Columbia University with an MFA in writing. The American Council on Exercise accredits her as a Health Coach, Personal Trainer and Group Exercise Facilitator. To better balance her body Hruby began her training in the Ashtanga community under Beryl Bender Birch, David Swenson, and Nancy Gilgoff. Hruby was previously the NBC Fit Guru of Connecticut, and for over a decade was the owner of Studio Blue: Fitness Made Fun. She currently writes a lifestyle and fitness column forConciergeQ and has been a contributor at: Glamour, Elle, Allure, Cosmopolitan, Marie Claire and numerous on-line zines and blogs. She was featured as one of “20 Female Yogapreneurs to Watch” on YOGANONYMOUS.
You can reach her at: