On My New Writing Project
My favorite literary text is Letters to A Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke. I circle back to its words and wisdoms over and over again, discovering something new with each read. For those who are unfamiliar with the book, it is a compilation of ten letters written by Rilke in response to Franz Xaver Kappus, a young poet who seeks commentary, advice, and teachings from Rilke, at first, specifically regarding his poetry. While Rilke’s doorway into this dialogue was Kappus's desire for feedback on his poems, Rilke uses the exchange as an opportunity to share proverbial wisdoms with Franz about what it is to be a human being - what it means to live in this world, and the importance of traveling deep within one's own soul to get to the heart of existence.
This text has touched me and million of others in ways I cannot satisfyingly express. Writing does this- writers have the capacity to capture the intricacies and hidden nuances of the human experience; to identify through language the nature of humanity’s inner world and outside experiences that otherwise go unnamed. Virginia Woolf wrote: “Books are the mirror of the soul.” Truly, literature reflects back to us what we already know deep within our own souls.
I often say that books were my introduction and doorway into Yoga. It was through reading that I first experienced the magnitude of what it means to fully engage in the present moment; so fully alive that my heart ached and my soul sang; uninhibitedly connected, absorbed by something- in my case, books- so much that I wanted melt into them. In a later piece, I will break down my understanding and beliefs about Yoga, but for now, lets consider the definition of Yoga as meaning to create union with, to bind, or to harness. In binding myself to books, I have become more intimate with life itself.
Due to my deep love for Letters To a Young Poet, I recommend this text to almost everyone I meet- for I believe that there is not one person on the planet who would not benefit reading Rainer’s intricately woven words of Truth. I followed protocol over the summer when I shared with a group of yoga students my love and admiration for this book, urging each of them to stop what they were doing and head to the nearest book store! Excellent students they are, not only did many of them read the book, they also helped plant an inspiring writing project in my mind. On the last day of our 200 hour Yoga Teacher, for which I was leading the Yoga philosophy section, a group of my students gave me a gift. They purchased a blank book with this engraved on the front cover: Letters To A Young Yogi. I quickly opened the book to find that each of them had written me a letter, thanking me for all I had taught them and opened up for them during the yoga training. I was immediately struck by love and gratitude for these amazing human beings, and I had an “aha!” moment, realizing that, similar to the way Rainer imparted his life wisdoms to the young poet, I felt a strong calling to share my wisdoms with the young yogi.
Starting with this post, I will write monthly letters on Yoga inspired topics that have supported me in developing my relationship to myself and the world. Please reach out if there is a particular topic you’d like me to write about! I would love to hear from everyone and anyone.