Okay, so the 21.5.800 challenge has begun and so far, so good! Here is how I’m interpreting the project:

Writing: this is the part I’m most excited about. I’m going to delve into the big F: family. Specifically, my relationship – or non-relationship – with my mentally ill younger brother, who recently died. This story may be one of my essential stories, and it’s the one that I’ve spent my whole life avoiding. So I’m going to use this practice as a way to explore the impact that this relationship has had on my life. At the end of these 21 days, I’m looking forward to having 16,800 words down on paper, which I will then craft into a short story or an essay… or perhaps even a book!

Yoga: to be honest, doing yoga five times a week isn’t a challenge for me. And currently, my asana practice is going along nicely. I could amp it up a bit, by perhaps doing a longer practice, or digging into Shoulderstand. But right now, the aspect of my yoga practice that I want to work on and cultivate is meditation. During my teacher training, my mentor suggested that I take up a meditation practice, which I did, kind of half-assedly. But, as part of 21.5.800, I’m going to train myself to sit in meditation five times a week. As an added bonus, I’m also going to do a simple and powerful yogic practice called the Divine Light Invocation, which I learned while living at Yasodhara Ashram. I used to practice it regularly, but lately only do it sporadically. I’ve found it to be more transformative than any asana practice.

I work well with structure and goals, but not so well with rigidity. My plan is to go out for coffee in the morning for my writing practice (because I love a little ritual, and getting out of the house is good) and to do my meditation practice before bed.

So… Day 1: Since I had planned on having Writing Club (a regular meeting that my writing pal Leesa and I have once or twice a month, to write together and workshop stories and gossip and eat) that evening, I decided to save my 800 words for then. Wouldn’t want to burn myself out on on the first day! Especially since by the time Writing Club started, I had already written three pages in my journal (which doesn’t count ~ nor does blogging!) and finished a 300 word article for the weekly paper I freelance for. The meditation practice didn’t get off to such a good start… I had drank too much wine at Writing Club, so I just crawled into bed and tried to do a reclining meditation before passing out.

Day 2: That pesky wine also caused me to sleep in, but once I was up and mobile, I headed out to Le Boui Boui, my friendly neighbourhood café for an allongé and demi petite dejeuner panini. I pulled out my stopwatch, set it for 30 minutes (a trick I learned from Lynda Barry), opened my notebook and set about writing. While I was working, my friend Laurie stopped in the café – and she knew what I was doing because she reads my blog! And even better, she’s also doing the 800 words/day writing challenge, on her own! Even though she hasn’t officially signed up because she doesn’t have her own blog! That was just the inspiration I needed, and I burned through my 800 words. I mean, they flowed through me. Or something. I haven’t gotten around to the meditation part yet, but I’m planning a quiet, wine-free evening and expect that I should have no problem meditating before sleep.

Stay tuned for periodic updates on how the project is going. Follow along on Twitter at #215800. I most likely won’t be posting the fruits of my writing practice, but I will be open and transparent about the process, and how my meditation practice progresses. Come along for the ride!