I've mediated formally off and on for years, usually instigated by a feeling of idling too high, an inability to focus, or acute pain resulting from my chronic repetitive strain injury. But I informally meditate all the time, a tactic I've used ever since we did "settling in" every morning of elementary school at Carolina Friends. Taking a few minutes to be quiet before or during the day is a terrific way to calm down, refocus and recharge.
How Meditation Helps My Writing
- Sometimes, I literally sit quietly in the office. Maybe close my eyes. Maybe stare out the window,
- Other times, I go sit outside or take a short mindful walk. This is also a great opportunity to detox from screens.
- Maybe I'll pop in the earbuds for a guided meditation or to zone out to calming sounds (I recommend the White Noise app).
I do this because it works for me. It keeps me on my game mentally and empowers me to manage my pain effectively (I use the Relaxation Response protocol). It also helps me get past writer's block, surface good ideas and solutions, or just have enough energy to finish that article on a topic I'm not that into.
Why writers need meditation
After reading this article on the Brevity blog by Sweta Vikram, I realized there are a lot of good reasons for all writers to meditate:
Researchers have found that writers face a greater risk of depression, anxiety disorders, and substance abuse.The stresses of the writing life — constant rejections, uncertainty, erratic highs & lows, and usually low pay add fuel to the fire of insecurity.
We all know this, I think, but I didn't realize it had been academically verified.
The post includes some tips for getting started with meditation. I also invite you to try one of the techniques that work for me.
Whatever you try, remember it's called practice for a reason. The goal is an attempt, not necessarily a "successful" execution. I think about meditation like drafting.
When we draft, the goal is t perfection, it's getting something -- anything -- to work with. When I adopted the something/anything mindset, I stopped judging myself and feeling like a failure if I didn't stay quiet the whole time or if I let a thought stick around.
Give it a shot and see how meditation can help you be a better and healthier writer.