Heart Sangha, say hello to Heidi Nehring! A regular member of our community, Heidi walks humbly while holding a huge heart and an endless collection of words. She started writing as a child and is now a published author. On Saturday, November 2nd, Heidi and Team Heart Guide, Roy Grant, will partner together to share a Writing and Meditation Workshop. Heidi shares more about her personal journey and the details of the upcoming workshop below.
BK: Can you share some highlights about yourself and your journey with yoga/meditation?
HN: Hi, I’m Heidi Nehring. I’m a pretty introspective person with a sensitive soul. I really always have been. It took me awhile to find myself but I started in theater first and throughout that process, I discovered that it wasn’t necessarily being on stage that I liked so much but studying the human condition, which kind of led me into “I want to help people”. From there, the idea of teaching started to pop up. Now, I’ve been teaching for 15 years at a middle school - 7th grade language arts - which has challenges and a lot of beautiful moments too.
My book is called Under Willows. Over Flowers: A journey from the head to the heart through poetry. I wanted to use it as a tool. I took a situation in my life - a relationship ending - and used this to step up from that, to find more of myself, and find the positives in the situation versus lamenting over it. Writing was my first step in getting out of that. It shares a storyline of what it was like in the beginning, in the discovery process, and in the end, where things are more positive. Not so much like everything is fixed, but like, “Okay, how do I use this to help others?”
I’ve learned a lot about myself through the process of teaching, especially that I had to know how to take care of myself, which is where yoga came in. I tried so many other different ways, but I had a lot of high anxiety, to the point where I would shake, and my palms would sweat, and I would get massive headaches. The days moved so quick and I was really struggling to find moments to pause. Following my book opening, I started getting panic attacks again and I was like, "okay, I need to do something else because what I did before has either stopped working or it just isn’t working for me now." My friend gave me a gift certificate to Healium Hot Yoga, which is where Awakened Heart Sangha previously gathered, and I attended a circle on January 6th. It changed my life.
BK: Wow! So recent!
HN: Yes. Totally, absolutely changed my life. There must have been like 25-30 people in the room there, and I was really nervous being there because it was my first time trying something like that, but I was open to it; I was kind of excited for it too. Meg instructed the initial deep breath in and out, and it literally gave me chills, and I was like, “If there is a breath of God in any room, that was it… and this is going to be good”. So I started attending sangha regularly and taking classes at Healium and I just realized that I needed the spiritual part in conjunction with the movements themselves. The breath in yoga is awesome and yes that helped me, but the meditation practice of slowing down, sitting down, and analyzing… this led me to learning how to love myself better, regardless of what was going to happen in any situation.
BK: How has your meditation practice influenced your writing?
HN: A lot. I always just liked to write as a kid but then it became relevant during transitions in life. I graduated college and I didn’t know what to do, I moved out to Los Angeles… and eventually I was like, “I just need to start writing again because I have so much inside of me, I don’t even know what to do with it”. And that was before meditation. So I would just start. I would just make lists of things I liked and things I didn’t like, because I was trying to find out a little bit more of who I was. Now, with meditation, I’ll actually sit first before I write. I’ll do a short meditation, see what’s there, until I can kind of peripherally open my eyes and take in everything around me. Then I take my thoughts that are coming up along with what I’m seeing and inquire… If I’m in nature, I’ll ask myself, “Can I do comparisons? Can I make meaning out of what i’m seeing as well as what I’m feeling?”, etc.. It comes out a little more descriptive, since starting meditation. There’s a lot more to work with. A lot more beauty... Sometimes darkness. It brings it both out, and it flips back and forth. So in that sense, you just take what you find and use it and write it and get it out. And eventually it comes out into something - a form - which is pretty cool. Whenever I think there’s nothing there, there’s always something to find. Meditation provides relaxation, letting the words come as they come, offering the idea that it’s okay no matter what, which is helpful, because a lot of times I would try to force it before.
BK: It sounds like with the expanded awareness of surroundings and inner workings that meditation brings, as well as the patience and compassion of the practice, really make a difference not only in what is being written but in how you are relating to yourself as a writer.
HN: Right. It’s more ‘me’ now when I write. Before I’d be a little more worried, “What is it going to look like? What is it going to sound like? What’s this? What’s that?” Meditation takes that away a bit more, making it easier to be you. So hum.
BK: You’re facilitating a Writing and Meditation Workshop with Roy on November 2nd. Can you share a little bit about what participants can expect?
HN: Attendees will learn a couple different pathways to writing, such as brain dumping, creating lists, gratitude writing, and more. We want participants to find ways for it to be useful for them. You know, when you were young you used to journal, but what does it look like now? Because it’s not juvenile. It’s something that should continue throughout all of life in conjunction with meditation. I think it’s really important to write your thoughts down and process through them, because that’s how you learn, that’s how you grow, that’s how you create the awareness. It’s calming, it creates a safe place. And at the workshop, you’re not going to be judged. It’s not about being a good writer, it’s not about being an author. It’s about using these methods as a tool just to love yourself a little bit better.
BK: Who can’t benefit from an extra helping of that?! So attendees can expect to be guided on a couple different methods of writing.
NE: Yes, different methods or pathways, different exercises and different types of writing. There are some writing exercises that you might only do in certain situations, but then there are ones that you could do on a daily basis, and then there’s some that are check point exercises, where, for example, if you’re really struggling with someone in a relationship, you can investigate what it looks like on paper, and how to use that to analyze both yourself and them, just to kind of get a better understanding between two people. So not only is it working with the self but also using that to better your communication, build your relationships with other people, and grow your understanding. Some people will find that some of the methods work for them better than others and that’s kind of the whole play of the day. It’s playing. It’s digging in, seeing what you find, organizing what you find, and then reflecting on it and seeing, “Oh, this is kind of working for me... I kind of struggle with this or that.” Roy and I set it up in this way, building off of one another. And there’s some surprises in there too! Hopefully, people walk away with a sense of appreciation for words and writing and finding that it’s important to take that time - whether it’s 15 minutes a day or any other amount - to write.
BK: Is there anything else you want people to know about the workshop?
NH: To not be afraid. It’s not something to be afraid of, you’re not going to be put on the spot. Just to come with an open heart and an open mind and be ready to discover cool things. Just like meditation, surprises pop up. This is just a different way of allowing that to happen.
Heidi and Roy’s workshop, Writing for Awakening: A Heart’s Path to Paradise, will be held on Saturday, November 2nd from 9:00 AM - 12:00 PM. The exchange for this community offering is $30. Limited spaces remain; please reserve your seat soon!