I found that yoga helped me respect and care for the energies within. Yoga is a necessary counterpart to the Buddhist reality of selflessness. Yoga provides a way to protect the self which is selfless, through the observation of the body's deeper realities. For as we all know, if you do not protect the self in some way, you'll fall into other people's agendas and supposedly good times. The nice person might put himself last, and there are problems with that set-up, because not everyone is as selfless. If you do yoga, you know the energy within, something to care for, nurture, treat well. The energies are mental, creative, athletic, sexual, graceful, full of insight, found while meditating with a clear mind, necessary to living life in the world.
Without that protective centeredness, I know, amazingly stupid things can happen. Years can be wasted. Relationships missed. Growth stunted. Things that happen when your own inner energies are scattered, distracted, occupied, co-opted.
The writer works from a kind of selflessness. There is no competition in writing, no me, no "I did this!" Hemingway's comparing of it to a prize fight, going round for round with the greats, Tolstoy, Shakespeare, etc., has the bluster of a ludicrous joke. A writer must read, as anyone must have a mind composed most largely of other people's thoughts, the traditions of wisdom. A writer has no real sense of ownership, but of a lucky simple flow, a comfort with the simplicity of writing, a kind of courage to just do it, rather than hiding from the thoughts that must pass through the mind, taking them on, the process, comparable to digestion, natural, necessary, self-defense, nourishing, somehow profoundly satisfying. You must take time to do it, which entails finding the present moment, taking a chunk of time out of the structure of a day, fitting it in along with exercise, yoga, housekeeping, work. It may well be the social life that takes a hit. But when you do it, you are participating in something, and that something is ultimately social. There is the great democracy of reader and writer, writer and reader, interchanging, equal, somewhat different, a cooperation, a hope for simple useful truths, good in the everyday world. Emily Dickinson was such an achiever. Lincoln too, as he was called upon.
I find a form of refuge out on the bike in the park, the roads through the trees, the light, the rolling landscape. The long miles bring a kind of anonymity, a relief from the heaviness of a self to protect. I was never good at self-protection anyway, not a desirable quality in a mate, it would seem. I wanted the worldly world to be kinder than it was, and so I needed my rides. I put in my efforts and they make me feel good, and then I would take that home and meditate upon the benefits and the nature I'd experienced along the way. It was never about competition, but about learning what the body could do. One pass down Beech Drive, followed by another, experiments with gear and cadence, reading how fast I was going on the little cycling computer on the handlebars, different positioning, breathing, it is all good exercise. And maybe, yes, you have to make a choice, sacrifice catching up with your good old friends. Maybe you're chewing on something anyway, a work problem, a transition, a need to stand up for the inner energies of your selfless self. The fresh air does you good.
The bike rides give me ballast to take care of the writer, to put aside all the other voices, particularly the go out and have a drink and be social stuff, I'm afraid. The worst thing for a writer is to not be making any headway.
The things you write, from the deeper inspirations, may look awkward to you, or look like maybe you were reaching for too much. But often times, they turn about to be correct and true, an interesting insight, something that needed to be said, synthesized out of all the other wisdom you may run across.