Meditation: A Practical Tool for Writers.
by Devon Miller
Whether you’re a writer, artist, or avid reader, have you considered the benefit of meditation for your creative life?
When envisioning meditation, do you see a person chanting on the side of a mountain, mind perfectly clear of thought? That practice exists for some, but they’re few and far between. Most of us meditate at a desk covered in papers, hair mangled, while buried in blankets.
I’m here to tell you what you think meditation is, is likely a lie, and hopefully show how a consistent meditation practice is the mightiest weapon a writer can wield.
Let’s start by busting some meditation myths:
1. Meditation isn’t for everyone.
That’s like saying exercise or healthy foods aren’t for everyone. Sure, maybe carrots or marathons aren’t your thing, but there are dozens of meditation practices. One of them will be your perfect fit.
2. While meditating, your mind must be clear.
False, false, and triple false! You will have thoughts while meditating. I have loads of them! If you expect otherwise, you’ll be disappointed. Meditation is about releasing expectations or judgements of your experience, but we’ll touch more on that later.
3. Meditation doesn’t work for me.
Trust me, it’s working. Believing meditation “doesn’t work” stems from having expectations of outcomes during practice. How many of you have heard: “I tried meditation but was overrun with thoughts and didn’t feel anything profound. I guess it didn’t work.” Guess what? The effectiveness of meditation has nothing to do with your experience during meditation, but rather how you’ll feel after with a consistent practice in the weeks to come. It’s like going to the gym for the first time in six months- of course you’re not going to feel like a superstar athlete, but after a few weeks you’ll feel pretty darn great!
Meditation myths busted! So, why should you give it a try? I’m not here to overwhelm you with meditation facts. If you love facts, do a little research. There’s ample information on the benefits of mediation. Instead, I’ll pose a simple question: as a writer, how important is the functionality of your mind? If you answered very important, then meditation is for you.
Meditation reduces stress, increases attention span, improves emotional health- the list goes on. I don’t know about you but keeping my emotional/mental health in check is a non-negotiable component of my creative process. Meditation is a pivotal part of that balance.
“But how do I meditate,” you ask?
Don’t worry! I’m here to help with that too. But whether you practice walking mediation, open eye, Zen, or mantra, there are a few universal truths to each and every practice.
1. Consistency is key.
Just like that vitamin you remember to take once a week isn’t doing much for your wellbeing (I know- I myself, am triggered by this statement), neither will an inconsistent practice. Meditation should be daily. Whether you have five minutes or forty, try and practice at the same time every day.
2. Release expectation.
This one is hard, but oh so important. You may find you experience a brief blimp of euphoria. Let it go. Do not cling to it for dear life. Allow it pass over like a warm breeze. You may spend the entire session overrun with thoughts. That is also okay! Just as some workouts are more satisfying than others, some meditations will be peaceful while others chaotic. You’re there to witness then experience, not control it.
3. Forgive and forget the rules.
Did you cling to the feeling? Skip your practice for three weeks? Convince yourself none of this was working? Excellent news! This means you’re human. If there are meditation gods, I promise they wouldn’t want any roadblocks to discourage you from practicing. Just give yourself a loving hug and return to meditating when you’re ready.
And now, for picking a practice.
There are many to choose from. Pick something that sounds fun! My cup of tea is a simple mantra practice:
Sit in a comfortable position with a supported back. Close your eyes and relax into your seat. After about thirty-seconds, start repeating the manta “Om” in your mind. Sometimes I’ll start by chanting it out-loud to cement the practice (I’ll even add a few chants in the middle if I have a particularly wandering mind). Don’t manipulate your thoughts or breath. If you’re distracted, simply acknowledge it, then return to your mantra. I tend to do this for about twenty minutes.
Once you sense you’re approaching the end of your allotted time, take a peek at your watch rather than set a timer. Timers create very jarring end to a mediation. Once time is up, sit with your eyes closed for two to three minutes. This is an important step- skipping this can result in headaches. And congrats! You’ve successfully meditated, and regardless of your experience, you receive an A+!
So, there you have it! Are you ready to take charge of your creative life? Smash writers block to bits? Increase your productivity? Then let’s start meditating! Remember, there’s nothing magical about it. It’s as natural as waking up in the morning. Make your practice special to you and remember it’s always there to return to.
Devon is a certified transcendental meditation (TM) practitioner of seven years. She’s taught meditation workshops in conjunction with mindfulness courses at university. If you need help selecting/perfecting your meditation practice, please connect with her on Instagram!