EWF blog post ~ Breathing, anxiety, writing

My next post is up on the Emerging Writers’ Festival blog this week. It’s about the relationship between breathing, writing and anxiety or distress.

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I am standing in the kitchen, in front of the toaster and the kettle, waiting for the toast to pop, when I realise I’m barely breathing. It’s a cold morning, and I can feel the cool floorboards through my thin socks and the colder-still granite bench top under my restless finger pads. My breath is shallow and quick and maybe even a little bit painful.

I start to count to four as I inhale, and again to four as I exhale — a familiar exercise and one I run yoga students through at the beginning of every class I teach. It helps, slowly. My breath begins to slow down, to feel calmer, even though I’m still aware of the tightness in the muscles between my ribs and in my belly.

This is a very distinct memory, although I’m sure it’s actually cobbled together from a number of different occasions where I’ve been dealing with some sort of anxiety and noticed it in my breathing. I know it’s happened often, because I remember so many different sets of small details. I remember exactly this situation, but with bare feet on a tiled floor, for example, and with shod feet wandering through a park. I breathe this way, and have to struggle to calm my breath, when I have deadlines looming or angsty life events.

To me, how someone breathes is one of the most intimate things you can know about a person. There are three reasons I think this: you have to be quite close to someone to notice how they’re breathing; breathing is quite literally the first and most enduring way in which we draw the outside world into ourselves; and I know enough about the anatomy, physiology and psychology of breathing to see how it’s useful as an indicator of how well someone is coping with their emotions.

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Read more here.

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A Drink with LiteraryMinded

Literary blogger and dear friend of mine, Angela Meyer (aka Ms LiteraryMinded) has just brought out the first two episodes of her new online video series A Drink with….

In her own words:

A Drink with… is a literary-minded chat show. In each episode I chat, informally, with a different writer, over a drink at a Melbourne location. Over the course of the show my co-producer Mark Welker and I will feature both emerging and established writers, and writers of different forms, including criticism.

The first two episodes, with novelist Lisa Lang (co-winner of the Vogel in 2009) and poet Omar Musa (who has won both the Australian Poetry Slam and the Indian Ocean Poetry Slam), have been released simultaneously. You can view them below, on Vimeo, or on the LiteraryMinded blog.

It’s such a brilliant idea. The first two episodes are beautifully shot, and have such a warmth to them. Almost as if you were sitting in the bar/cafe with the writers. The camera takes in both Ange’s obvious rapport with her interview subjects, and all those little details you might notice about a person in close-up — hand gestures, little smiles, listening faces. I’m very much looking forward to future episodes.

A Drink with Lisa Lang from LiteraryMinded (Angela Meyer) on Vimeo.

A Drink with Omar Musa from LiteraryMinded (Angela Meyer) on Vimeo.