Long story short, I scored a copy and loved it. The story involves Amanda, a 29 year old would-be yoga teacher and writer travelling through India for her publisher to write a guidebook for enlightenment - because it's the latest craze and all. In the midst of that, she deals with heartache, homesickness, cultureshock, and a travel companion who refers to himself in the plural sense. She struggles to find enlightment when life keeps throwing CRAZY curveballs at her. How will she handle it? I wholeheartedly recommend you read it and find out!
How did you end up at Spirit Rock?
Almost 20 years ago I began attending a weekly sitting group and talk led by Buddhist teacher Jack Kornfield in Fairfax, California. Jack then became one of the founders of Spirit Rock in nearby Woodacre, and his class moved there in the early 90s. I’ve been practicing there ever since—I think of it as my primary spiritual community. About eight years ago I began teaching yoga there, and about four years ago I taught on their first “yoga and meditation” retreat.
How does your yoga practice come to play when you are tapping into your creativity?
I couldn’t write if I didn’t do yoga. Yoga gets my creative juices flowing, and acts as a potent counterpose to the writer’s tendency to live in the head. And both yoga and writing are powerful practices that focus the lens of my awareness on the details of my embodied life, revealing its magic and mystery.
What in your life do you consider bliss?
Meditating and doing yoga outside on my deck under the oak branches, looking out at Mt. Tamalpais. Snuggling up in a hammock with my son and reading “The Borrowers” aloud. Dancing with friends in my living room. Curling up on my soft golden sofa with someone I love. Hiking through the spring wildflowers along the bluffs at Pt. Reyes.
Do you feel there is a lack of education in the West on the true meaning of Yoga?
I think the teachings are always available for those who are looking for them. If you’re not ready, it doesn’t matter how many times you’re instructed in the true dharma. If you are ready, you can hear it in the rustling of the wind in the trees.
I know the book is all fictional characters but who in the book can you relate to the most?
One of the things I discovered about writing fiction is that I really fall in love with all of my characters, even the difficult ones. For instance, in order to write the scenes with the impossible boyfriend, Matt, I had to really get inside his head and understand who he was, where he was coming from, and why he was acting the way he was. If I didn’t do that, the scenes were flat and didn’t ring true—and once I understood him on a deeper level, I couldn’t dismiss him as the jerk I initially wanted him to be.
What is your favorite dessert?
My most blissful dessert memory is of a crème brulee I ate in France, years ago, shortly after leaving a three-week meditation retreat at Plum Village, the monastery of Vietnamese Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh. The hot, crunchy burnt-sugar top...the cool sweetness of the custard...it took me straight to samadhi!