Clarity Counseling Center is a Wilmington, NC–based practice. Our “Meet the Team” series is intended to take a closer look into the hard-working, dedicated individuals who support our therapists. In this series, we put our team members on the couch to learn who they are and why they do what they do. In this post, I'll be interviewing Clarity blog editor Laura Golden.
Q: How long have you been writing?
A: I started writing as a teenager, poems mostly. I wrote a book-length thesis as an undergrad—a literary interpretation—which was published, as were several articles, translations, and short stories I’ve since written. I’ve also had many jobs that included writing and editing a variety of subjects, including psychology. A few years ago, I realized that writing is what I want to focus on, so I resigned from my corporate position to dedicate myself to it full-time.
Q: Tell me more about your work related to psychology.
A: My first job out of college was as an Editorial Assistant at Macmillan Publishers in New York City. The pay was awful and competition to advance intense, which became disheartening. After a year, while scanning the Wanted Ads I stumbled across: Freudian Psychoanalysts Seek Translator. I had double-majored in French and Spanish language and literature, and translation is what I really wanted to do. They were offering nearly double what I was earning at Macmillan. I couldn’t pass it up. I spent the next five years translating (from Spanish) and editing the books, lectures, and articles of two prominent doctors. This was my first real introduction to psychology, and I found it fascinating.
Q: What are some of your other interests related to psychology?
A: I’ve been a serious yoga practitioner for nearly 30 years, a teacher for 20. Most people think of yoga as a physical exercise, but that’s just one of many branches of a much larger philosophy. The core teachings of this ancient tradition are summarized in a group of verses called the Yoga Sutras by Patanjali, a systematized “guide book” to the various practices that lead, ultimately, to enlightenment. Along this path, one moves from the self to the Self, that is to say, from a over-identification with the individual ego to the reality of the single, interconnected, universal being that we all are. I’ve studied this book for as long as I’ve been practicing yoga. Every time I read it, I learn something new about myself, human nature, and the way the universe operates.
Q: Do yoga and psychology influence your writing now?
A: Yoga influences everything in my life, and much of my fiction writing—my novels in particular—is driven by the psychology of the characters rather than action. I’ve published a couple of articles on specific yogic teachings and just started a new series of what I hope are inspired interpretations of the Yoga Sutras.
Q: Tell me more about your new yoga psychology series.
A: In addition to the Yoga Sutras, another book I read over and over again is The Prophet, by Kahlil Gibran. It’s a fictional compilation of teachings on core life issues delivered by a sage to a group of people hungry for knowledge about themselves. His writing is deep and poetic, ecstatic.
I’ve read both these books so many times that they’ve become an integral part of who I am. This series is my attempt to combine the two into an inspired, poetic presentation of the things that move us as human beings. I’ve read many interpretations of the Yoga Sutras, all of which aim to explain the dense concepts it contains. I could not possibly add to the masterful knowledge already written on the subject, and that is not my intention. Eventually, I plan to compile a book from pieces on all or most of the verses, but for now, the series will focus on the core teachings.
Q: How do you approach this type of writing?
A: I think most authors are trying first and foremost to get out of their own way, to let the words flow in and then out, to let the muse speak. On a higher level, this is also a yogic practice, letting go of the individual self to merge with the universal Self.
I started with the first verse in the book and will follow sequentially, because Master Patanjali already figured out the order that makes the most sense. (My muse once told me very clearly not to reinvent the wheel with my writing.) I read several interpretations (again), repeated the verse mentally, and mulled it over for several days. I used the verse as a mantra at the beginning of meditation sessions, asked for and opened myself up to guidance. When I felt ready to write, I sat down and let the words flow, without a plan, then put it aside without editing.
The next day, I reread it and didn’t feel satisfied; it was missing something. So I sat down and repeated the writing process from scratch, twice. By the time I approached it the third time, I knew what the format and general content would be. After that, I read it several times and stopped wherever it didn’t feel right. I’d sit for a minute, contemplate why, and the right edit would arise.
I’m not claiming to be an ecstatic writer (or yogi). The process felt like a collaboration between myself and something beyond myself but close by. It was very down to Earth and natural.
Q: Where can we read this series?
A: You can read all of my yoga writing on the blog page of my website, LauraGoldenYoga.com. The first article in the new series is called “Here and Now We Begin.” Thank you for your interest, and I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I am enjoying writing it.