Scenes from Taos

I think the deeper you go into questions, the deeper or more interesting the questions get. And I think that’s the job of art.—Andre Dubus III

The Mabel Dodge Luhan House is abuzz with fellow retreaters packing up before our final morning workshop. In a few hours we’ll go our separate ways, tote our writing dreams back home, and I’ll be back in my own bed late tonight.

I’ve been in Taos for the past few days with a group of women writers working on various projects. It’s my second time to this retreat with Jennifer Louden. My first was a decade ago when I taught the yoga portion and was working on the book proposal for Tranquilista. When I saw this retreat pop up late last year, I felt called to carve out this time for my writing.

Although I’ll be processing the experience and takeaways for the next few days, I wanted to share a few highlights:

  • a morning walk to see the black cross Georgia O’Keeffe painted
  • having tea with a woman I met during my last retreat here
  • soaking in a clawfoot tub surrounded by windows painted by D.H. Lawrence
  • walking the labyrinth
  • discovering a cute tea house: teaography {watch for a forthcoming giveaway}
  • walking in to Taos Plaza three times
  • spending time with paint, collage, and words through art journaling
  • sitting with my {sometimes elusive} muse
  • spending time with interesting women writers
  • sitting by a fire in my neighbor’s room chatting about our memoir projects

Mid-week I began to experience something that hasn’t happened since grade school summer camp—I was homesick. I missed my pups and Tim. He’d send photos of Belle with her tongue out {her lack of teeth causes it to slip out sometimes} and Mookie with his usual FOMO {fear of missing out} look and I’d want to fly home. Those little beings mean so much to me and I can’t wait to snuggle with them in 13 hours {but who’s counting?!}.

During open writing time I was often torn between handling TranquiliT orders and Tranquil Space needs, so I wasn’t always able to  fully drop in. I blame wifi and my inability to resist its lure. Yet when I did, the writing would flow and so would the many questions.

Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.—Rilke

What would it look like to create space and spend time with your muse? What is the longing deep within? What wants attention?

Ah, the questions. Wishing you a beautiful weekend filled with questions, creative sparks, and occasional answers. Bisous. x




Tranquility du jour #395: The Teacher Appears

The Teacher Appears  with Brian Leaf. We discuss writing his latest book The Teacher Appears: 108 Prompts to Power Your Yoga Practice, how he chose the 108 prompts for reflection, and the importance of following your spiritual journey.

Tranquility du jour #395: The Teacher Appears

Direct download: Tranquility du jour #395: The Teacher Appears


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Upcoming Events

Yoga + Art in West Virginia: May 19-21 {1 spot left}

Writing in the Woods in West Virginia: October 6-8

Featured guest:

Brian Leaf, M.A., is the author of thirteen books, including The Teacher Appears: 108 Prompts to Power Your Yoga Practice and Misadventures of a Garden State Yogi. Brian graduated from Georgetown University in 1993 with a BA in business, English, and theology, and in 1999 he completed a master’s degree at Lesley College, specializing in yoga and ayurveda. He lives in Northampton, Massachusetts, with his wife and two sons.







About The Teacher Appears: 108 Prompts To Power Your Yoga Practice

For anyone longing to deepen their yoga practice comes The Teacher Appears, an illustrated journal of 108 prompts. Includes celebrity guest prompts from such luminaries as Krishna Das, Elena Brower, Jack Kornfield, Sharon Gannon, Shiva Rea, Seane Corn, Schuyler Grant, and more.

Acclaimed author Brian Leaf guides readers to deepen their yoga practice with dristi, mudra, and pranayama; to explore their uncomfortable edges; to cultivate intuition; and, simply, to long for the divine, as they experience the true meaning of yoga. Readers discover a new depth to their yoga practice and a new level of dedication, meaning, and happiness in their lives.

Tranquility du Jour


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A Life of Sensations

O for a life of sensations rather than of thoughts.—John Keats

When considering what to explore in this month’s Tranquil Space muse, I began by pulling images that represented spring’s simple pleasures: pink blooms, vegan cupcakes, rose tea, yoga, and journal writing. After compiling the collage, I looked for a quote that touched on life’s little luxuries and came across the above Keats quote.

You may wonder what simple pleasures or a life of sensations rather than thoughts has to do with yoga. As a teacher and practitioner who has been keen on incorporating yoga beyond the mat, I found the quote apropos. And, let’s be honest, the physical practice of yoga is filled with sensations.

Since we get the importance of infusing our everyday with beauty, I wanted to touch on the second part of the Keats quote . . . thoughts. We are estimated to have 50,000 to 70,000 thoughts per day. Considering 90-95% of them are repetitive and 80% are considered negative, yoga (and mindful living) is a balm to work with our human condition.

In the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali 1.2, Patanjali writes yoga chitta vritti nirodha. This is often translated as “yoga as the cessations of the fluctuations of the mind.” While we may consider yoga to be the physical practice of poses on a mat, Patanjali is emphasizing quieting the mind as the core of yoga practice. And Keats, also, emphasizes the connection to sensations over a busy mind.

While we need our mind to be a productive, thoughtful member of society, we also need training to focus and quiet the mind to live as Patanjali and Keats encourage. This comes through meditation, time in nature, yoga, and any other activity that allows you to get lost in the flow.

Practicing the sixth limb of yoga, dharana (concentration), offers the opportunity to quiet our monkey mind and notice the sensations within and around us. Feel the air on your skin. Notice the beat of your heart. Observe any cravings. Slow down to taste your food. Pay attention to sensations as you move through sun salutations.

As we welcome May, consider Patanjali and Keats when you find yourself stuck in rumination or worry. Similar to the life-saving technique of “stop, drop, and roll,” remember to STOP: stop, take a breath, observe what’s happening, proceed with awareness.

May we have more sensations from life’s simple pleasures and less distraction from a mind stuck in the past or worrying about the future. Namaste.