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Author Spotlight: Julie Metz the author of Perfection

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Teresa's Reading Corner: Author Spotlight: Julie Metz the author of Perfection

Monday, October 11, 2010

Author Spotlight: Julie Metz the author of Perfection

Last week I had the pleasure of reading and reviewing Perfection by Julie Metz.  This week she's stopping by with some words of wisdom for the readers of Teresa's Reading Corner.

The Art of Stopping

For a person whose life has been an extreme motion whirlwind of work and mothering for the last seven years, my first thought in considering this theme was that I’d have nothing useful to say. But in truth, the only thing that has kept me sane has been learning to stop. And for me, that really meant learning. I’ve been a yoga student for the last fifteen years. Yoga classes have provided a wonderful place to let my mind get quieter while strengthening my body and sense of self. For me the most difficult poses have always been the short meditation at the beginning of class and the “corpse pose” at the end of class, where we lie still on our back for several minutes.
            I always hoped that one day I’d really learn how to just sit still without completely freaking out. This past February I made the rash decision to sign up for a three-day silent Zen retreat. I had no prior experience with Zen, and little knowledge, except from reading Natalie Goldberg’s beautiful memoir Long Quiet Highway, but there was something about the simplicity, dedication, and rigor of the practice as described in that book that appealed to my worker bee nature. I registered sight unseen, perhaps a good thing, for had I understood that I was about to subject myself to Zen bootcamp I might never have gone.
            Over the course of the weekend I learned all about the art of stopping. Each day we had two sessions consisting of three 30-minute sittings. We sat in the same spot for all the sittings, so I became intimate with the hole in the left sock of the woman sitting in front of me, the pain in my hips, and, even more painfully, with the chatter in my head that just would not quit. In between sitting sessions, we did silent walking meditation outdoors. I noticed so many details with refreshed senses—a fearless bird singing in a tall pine, the late winter light, the gusts blowing up from the river nearby. Meals were silent. I ate slowly and fidgeted less. I had nowhere else to go, nothing else to do. At night I sat still on my bed, and looked at the mountain framed by my small-paned window.
            Back at home, I told my boyfriend of six years about my new discovery. To my surprise (for he moves through life like a terrier chasing a stick), he was intrigued. We began sitting together several evenings a week before bed. We bow, I read a short passage from a book of Zen teachings, and we sit for ten to fifteen minutes. The first minutes are spent frantically running through lists in my head: things my daughter needs for school, laundry I forgot to put in the dryer, work deadlines. Then I see myself doing that and can find a quieter way to be. After several months, sitting itself has become a pleasurable posture and I look forward to the shared quiet time when we both take time to take some good breaths and find a good place to just stop our day.
            I have signed up for another retreat this winter—as I am sure I have much more to learn about the art of stopping.
Julie Metz is the New York Times bestselling author of PERFECTION, A Memoir of Betrayal and Renewal, which was a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers Selection for 2009. The paperback edition was released by Voice/Hyperion in May 2010. The recipient of a MacDowell Fellowship, Ms. Metz lives with her family in Brooklyn, New York where she is currently at work on a novel.

Thank you so much for those fantastic words.  I know I am terrible at slowing down, let alone stopping.  I enjoy yoga, but I've not ever been able to really slow down and let my thoughts wander in and out of my mind without spending time on them.  Meditation is one of those things that I keep meaning to get to... maybe I should make it a priority this winter.

What about you, do my wonderful readers have any words of wisdom about slowing down?



At October 15, 2010 at 12:13 AM , Blogger Suko said...

It is hard to slow down! I think yoga can really help, especially during more relaxing poses. Great guest post!


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