How Meditation Can Help Your Writing
I used to meditate. A lot. You know – that process where you sit down, light some candles or incense, and attempt to quiet your mind. Some days my “monkey mind” was all over the place with my to-do list, never in the present moment.
Other times, I fell into a zone of deep peace and the comforting “now” where I focused on my breathing, forgetting past and future. Whatever happened was OK. No judgments. I simply allowed whatever was there – to be.
Now, I’m returning to mindfulness meditation for many reasons. And one of them is for my creative writing.
How, you may ask, can meditation help with the writing process? You’d be surprised.
Availability to new insights. When I still and quiet the mind, I am listening – not only to my breathing, heartbeat and of course the hundreds of senseless, random thoughts that run amok through my brain … but I am listening to what wants to be birthed and named. I am listening to the creative source that wants to have a voice. In that silence, insights, perceptions and ideas that may have been buried beneath the chaos of daily life begin to emerge.
Being in the flow. As meditation allows me to be open to my creative self, I find that words often flow more easily than they have in the past. I just finished a novel that, although was hard work, was seamless and not a struggle. The pieces seem to come together from another place within me. And I loved the process throughout.
A safe space to take risks. As a writer, I am always a little anxious. I am always putting myself “out there” – something that’s never been easy for me. When I quiet my thoughts, I can find a safe spot to land, a place that soothes the raw edges of my insecurities and helps me become a bit more of a risk taker in my writing.
Frees us from perfection. The mind loves to judge. As a writer, I am my own worst critic. I tend to feel what I’ve written is never good enough. But when I meditate, I give myself permission to be free of my own tyrannical judgments, as well as the opinions of others. I tend to be more gentle with myself. And while revisions are necessary, I reach a point of acceptance in my drafts, knowing a future agent or editor will change my words anyway. In one of my favorite books, “Pilgrim at Tinker Creek,” Annie Dillard writes: “The present is a freely given canvas. That it is constantly being ripped apart and washed downstream goes without saying.”
Ultimately, meditation, much like writing, is a discipline. And a practice. But it’s also about letting go. And that’s difficult for many of us. As artist/author Julia Cameron states so well, “The creative process is a process of surrender, not control.” When we surrender, we allow a source higher than ourselves to express – and that can be humbling and surprising!