In “Sleeping Beauty’s Ashram Escape” (Issue 5), writer Priya Hutner shares her journey in leaving an ashram to experience ongoing awakening. In the interview following, Hunter explores creative process, inspirations, and staying present.
Priya Hunter is a writer, health and wellness chef and consultant, and yoga instructor embracing the Tahoe lifestyle. She writes feature articles and food reviews for The Weekly and freelances for The Sierra Sun, Tahoe Magazine, and Northwoods Magazine. She also writes nonfiction book reviews for Transitions Radio Magazine in Santa Fe. Priya is currently writing a memoir about her experience living and working on an ashram with a guru for more than 20 years.
What inspired you to create this piece? Pain, loss, and awakening were at the heart of the piece. As I worked on my story, this piece emerged from the depths of attempting to make sense of living with uncertainty after my beliefs were annihilated.
How would you characterize your creative process as you worked on this piece? Coffee helps. I sit and quiet myself before I begin and allow for stream of consciousness to open me to my writing. I try not to stop until I feel like the body of my piece is on the computer. It is only then I step back and give space to the story. I return to work through the piece until I feel like I’ve captured the experience.
What writing or other artistic expression has had a profound impact on your writing? Being in nature is a key to help me write. Hiking, skiing, swimming, and being outside help me find the clarity I need to write. Breathing & yoga support my writing, as well, by helping me tune in and get centered. I also listen to music and that helps me to drop into the space.
What kind of music helps you “drop into the space”? The music I listen to that helps me drop into the into the space is very eclectic and depends on my mood and state of mind. I listen to classical, chanting and most recently I find electronic music totally drops me into the space-I turn on Soundcloud and begin writing..
Where do you create? Tell us about your workspace. I live in a small A-Frame cottage butted up against the Tahoe National Forest. My home is surrounded by Jeffrey Pines. In the spring they smell of vanilla that fills my workspace. Mule deer, coyotes and bears often walk through the yard. I have an amazing view of the mountains and I can see the ski runs of Northstar filled with snow in the winter. I work at an old desk the owner of my home left behind. It sits next to a wood stove that burns during cold weather. A Tsuchiya Koitsu Japanese woodblock print of Mt Fuji, hangs on the wall above me. I love the wabi sabi vibe, so my home has lots of Japanese accents, as well as some Hindu and Buddhist artifacts.
What do you do to help yourself get over a creative block? I breathe. Take space and pull back. I also look to my literary community to talk about where I am stuck and what ideas they might have to help me through.
What makes you happiest about “Being here in Truckee and now?” What makes me happy about being in Truckee..it’s all about the environment..looking out at the mountains every morning,the vast beauty of where I live creates a sense of awe that opens my heart. I also spend my time hiking, skiing and being outdoors which is a key to my wellbeing and happiness. I recently went on a trip and was so grateful to return here. Truckee offers me a sense of being home, not only physically but home in myself. The people here have very much become part of my growth and evolution as well. Vast beauty in all forms is so inspiring.
We asked Priya to dip into the “Proust Questionnaire” and select a few fun (less writing-related) questions to answer. This probing set of questions originated as a 19th-century parlor game popularized by contemporaries of Marcel Proust, the French essayist and novelist, who believed that an individual’s answers reveal his or her true nature.
If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be? I reincarnate as a person who had the ability to truly know what it is to be completely awake.
When and where were you happiest? Here in Truckee and now.
Which words or phrases do you most overuse? Just so you know, Perfect, Get over my cheap self
What is your greatest extravagance? Dinner parties for friends in my community
Which talent would you most like to have? Sing
Who is your hero of fiction? Yoda
What is your current state of mind? Happy and in awe of a most beautiful life
What is your motto? Breathe and stay present
This interview was curated by Erika Williams, Proximity‘s Interview Series Coordinator and a creative writing student at Ohio University.