I want to tell you about an invaluable writing asset.
It’s become a non-negotiable element of my writing process, and I hope it becomes the same for you.
Writing is hard work. It’s not hard like electrical engineering (a chapter in my past life), which was a mind-numbing, sleep-depriving, hair-pulling kind of hard.
Writing is more a sweet torture, soreness-post-crazy-workout kind of hard.
You know the routine: The words get stuck. The ideas get jammed. The mind gets cluttered, and you get discouraged.
It doesn’t have to be this way.
Sometimes inspiration strikes. A writing flow ensues. You create a beautiful piece and you hit a home run with your readers.
But what about those times when it’s not working? Where do you turn? How do you tap into your very best self?
Outside versus inside influence
There is no shortage of resources in the world of writing today; we have it covered well, from writing techniques, resources, and tools, to inspiration and endless, amazing role models.
How lucky for us to be living in a world where we have such fast access to all of the above.
Yet, that’s all on the outside. You should never lose sight of what lies on the inside.
How often are you turning inward and shutting everything else off?
How do you tap into what you uniquely have to offer the world without being pulled so many directions from the outside?
Thanks to my engineering brain, I used to be a skeptic of all things that fell outside the realm of science and logic. I eventually came to understand that skepticism is downright limiting when it comes to a technique I want to talk about today, an empowering writing tool you should embrace.
The benefits of meditation to your writing
Meditation will make you a better writer.
I am not saying that meditation is the only element necessary to turn you into a master writer, but if this practice is absent from your writing and creative process, you are simply leaving too much potential on the table.
Without a simple meditation practice, you’re not tapping into your full creative juices and you’re robbing yourself of becoming the best writer you can be on many levels.
Reading is a wonderful stimulant for your brain; it expands your horizons and increases your knowledge of the world, but what matters with your writing is how well you can access that information and express it on paper (or pixels) in your best writing voice and style.
You need to get into the right state of mind to achieve that, and meditation is the shortest path to that state.
Meditation can unlock your best writing ideas.
Meditation calms your nerves and allows the brain to process the information it has soaked up from reading and listening. Meditation allows your mind to have a genuine conversation with itself, and to make honest discoveries about what untainted and original content it can create.
Meditation fills the gaps and connects the dots. Meditation tames fatigue, purifies ideas, discards old ones and gives birth to new ones.
It awakens your inner voice and gives it courage to speak up.
It splashes drops of awareness on your thoughts and it showers you with a wealth of creativity and knowledge that otherwise tends to be trapped in your mind.
Meditation is a gift far too accessible, too easy, and too rewarding not to embrace — if you are willing to cultivate the habit.
Here are 3 effective meditation habits that will invigorate your writing …
1. Meditate On Your Own
There are many types of meditation; you can go to retreats, classes, or group meditation sessions.
You can also meditate on your own.
The most practical and effective type of meditation — and one where you can use the resulting mindfulness to stimulate your writing — is done on your own and in the privacy of your own home.
You can choose from different two routes here. You can use guided meditation technique where you listen to CDs, podcasts of experts who lead you through the meditation.
Or you can meditate on your own, and you do not need a diploma from a yoga school or an approval from a Buddhist temple, I assure you.
No prior experience is needed to follow these instructions. You only need to be willing.
- Decide to do it Tell yourself you are willing to give this a fair shake. Nothing happens without a mental commitment.
- Find a time and a space in your home that is comfortable, inviting, and quiet. That means no pets, no children, no partners or spouses. The good news is that you can even use your closet, so no excuses either!
- Sit on the floor or on a cushion Sit crossed legged but be sure that you are comfortable and if need be, have your back supported by a wall for a tall spine. Meditating on the floor has an impact that cannot be replicated on other surfaces because when seated on the floor – or on your cushion – you have a physical connection with Mother Earth. The simplicity of this act combined with a straight spine does wonders for your mind.
- Put your hands on your lap Be relaxed and receptive. When you know what to do with your hands, it immediately helps you to relax.
- Choose a mantra This is a phrase that you keep repeating to yourself during meditation. It can be a question you ask, a problem you want to solve, or a mental block you wish to release. For example: “How can I write differently about the same old topic?” or “What is my writing voice?” The answers will come to you.
- Close your eyes and begin breathing Let the meditation start. Tune into the silence. Let your thoughts come and neither reject nor acknowledge them. Repeat your mantra over and over. Just listen. Stay as little as 5 minutes or as long as 30 minutes. When you are finished, slowly come out by opening your eyes, rubbing your hands together, and sitting another minute or two before getting up.
2. Forgive yourself when you slip
Nothing works if you do it only once, or sometimes even ten times.
Meditation is a practice and you need to develop a habit around it. Habits are built over time, and with consistency.
When you sit still for 5 minutes every day for a week, you have a start. When you sit still for 10 minutes every day for a month, you have momentum. When you feel compelled to meditate and to tune into the solitude before you write, then you have a strong habit.
This is all great but we are human beings. You will slip here and there. You will miss a day now and again, so remember what makes or breaks the return to meditation: forgiving yourself instantly for those times when you slip.
Whether writing or meditating, just let it go, and then pick it back up the following day.
3. Write after meditation
Protect the post-meditation state of mind for as long as you can.
Write soon after meditation.
Even take a notebook (yes, a physical notebook) or your writing device and write while still on your cushion or on the floor immediately after you finish the day’s meditation practice.
There may be a slow return to writing, but you’ll find yourself in a different space than you’re used to. It is a reflective, creative, and productive state, free of noise and clutter, and a haven of clarity.
Trust me, try this before you dismiss it.
In fact, I say try everything at least twice, because good ideas in life sometimes deserve two chances.
We’ll never know, but would you not like to believe that the greatest writers of our time meditated before creating their timeless masterpieces?
Even William Shakespeare wrote (through King Henry VI):
Close up his eyes and draw the curtain close; And let us all to meditation.
A penny for your thoughts
What do you think about the connection between meditation and writing?
Have you ever meditated before? And, more importantly, have you experimented with sitting down to write immediately after your meditation?
Please share your thoughts with me in the comments below …