Three Simple Meditation Practices For Writers
Fingers on the keyboard, poised and ready to write. The sun is well past the horizon and the windows have darkened into mirrors of my living space. I could jump right in and type away, finding the rhythm of writing, eagerly laying out my ideas one image at a time. Or — I could pause. Breathe. Feel my attention settle into my core. Relax into the chair and release a few (surprising) sighs like a beagle who’s settling in for a timely snooze. Except I’m not going the way of the napper. I’m reorganizing myself, reorienting myself, remembering my body and refreshing my mind.
Meditation. A versatile, deceptively simple practice of training the mind. Research psychologists have defined meditation as a practice of either focussed attention (such as breath-centered meditation) or open monitoring (such as mindfulness meditation) (Lutz et al. 2008). Both approaches are supportive in the writing process, but for the sake of keeping things focussed (yes, the double meaning is intentional,) I have suggestions of three ways to incorporate meditation skills into a writing practice.
Meditation, in my book, is a yummy and deeply nourishing way to spend time and refine the mind, so get comfy, take a moment to check in with your posture and tune into your breath, and read on!
- A moment of meditation prior to writing
It’s so simple: just pause and breathe. Rest your attention gently on your breath. Don’t force deep breaths or evenly spaced breaths. Just breathe. Taking a moment to reset yourself will help to clear out thoughts — and refresh your thought pathways. This moment of meditation can truly be just a moment. If all you have is enough time for a few breaths, take those breaths. If you can sit longer — five minutes perhaps, or whatever amount of time feels right, then take that time. Your brain chemistry and your gentle heart will appreciate it.
2. Meditation while writing
Sometimes we write and we write and we’re just off and away — yay! Sometimes, the path is not so clear, or distractions come up (or snarky negative talk from an inner censor.) Pause. Once again, just pause. Return your attention to your breath. Just one breath, one short moment without the pressure of finding the next words. This isn’t a distraction. It’s a re-Sourcing and refreshing of your creative flow. Take as many pauses as feels good, for as long as feels good.
3. Post-writing praise
One of my favorite practices is to compliment my writing three times after I complete a writing session. You can take this in any direction, from “Bravo for sitting to write today!” to a more writerly “What a fascinating use of that verb as a noun/shift in point of view/inner rhyme/play on words. I’m delighted that I took the time to allow it surface. It adds an extra dimension to the piece that I didn’t even know was possible.” How is this meditation? You’re training your mind to see the best of what arose during that writing session. You’re also training your mind to treat yourself well, something all creatives can benefit from. Our creativity is a precious gift, and is more likely to be our steadfast friend if we welcome it and cherish it every time it appears.
Meditation, of course, is a practice. There’s no such thing as perfect meditation, and if you find your mind to be busier or more rebellious one day than another, that’s ok. Over time, it will boost your ability to focus, remain centered, and refine the trajectory of your thoughts. And hopefully it will be as enjoyable for you as it is for me.