How to make blogging a mindful practice
Life is what happens when you are blogging
I am most alive and mindful when I am stringing words together on thin threads in a blog post. This is not an experience unique to me — you have felt it, haven’t you? If you are an authentic writer, then you have. Not all the time maybe, but sometimes.
The feeling in those moments is paradoxical. The heightened awareness is painful as we experience the pleasure of it. Our minds are generally not in the habit of focusing on the solely on the present. In fact, the brain resists it, preferring to multitask.
So, writing is painful because it pushes your mind to an intensified focus on the present. Your brain prefers to think about the past and future, but writing pins you to the page in the present. The pleasure and pain are closely connected, or are they the same? In blogging, the pain and pleasure are one in the moment, and yet are separate from you:
Mindful awareness has shown me that stillness, the deeper space inside oneself that is away from all of the emotions, the peaceful space that watches. I try to bring mindfulness to all I do, and the present moment is always my priority.
Mindfulness has helped me enjoy the creative impulse rather than try to block it with tension and a compulsion to be brilliant. It has helped show me that simply waking up in the morning, and being alive, is a wonderful gift.
Mindfulness separates you from the pain and pleasure of writing. Pain and pleasure both distract the mind, so the ideal place to be when writing is in a state of awareness where you are disconnected from emotion. You know it’s there, but you do not focus on it.
Mindfulness vs. Mindlessness
Being mindless and mindful bear many similarities, both emptying the mind. In fact they can be one, as Karen Maezen Miller describes:
Think less. The kind of writing you want to do does not come from contemplation or analysis, not from self-judgment or second-guessing. It comes by itself when you stare blank-headed at a blank page
Maezen Miller counsels writers to think less consciously. But, she refers to the self-conscious writing we sometimes slip into, where we force and guide our thinking. You are still thinking, but the brain must be given freedom in mindfulness. This is liberty from the past and future, the pain and pleasure, not complete mindless freedom.
Mindful writing liberates the brain to find its own focus in the present. This is the magic of writing, when it causes you to flow in a zone where you are focused but not forced. You follow threads of thoughts and words, but you cannot restrict them too much. In blogging, the words and thoughts will make their journey to you.
Writing your mind
Writing your brain on the page creates a hyper-mindfulness, thrusts you into the present moment, and when you are flowing, keeps you there. It distances you from all things other than your inner voice.
You, the words, the computer, the thoughts all become one in stringing together sentences. How does this happen? Well, practicing, writing frequently, trains your mind to find this zone. Here are a few ways you can help your brain to write mindfully:
- Relax your body and mind, consciously. You have to think to yourself that you are relaxing, letting go.
- Get comfortable. Finding the ideally suited station for your writing is essential. The place is different for everyone, and it certainly does not have to be a barren, hard landscape. You will know the right place when you find it.
- Take a minute or ten to close your eyes and do some deep breathing. Relax and pay attention to your calm, deep breaths.
- As you prepare to write, wait for the wordsand ideas to come. Don’t force your mind in one direction or another, but listen peacefully for the words that come from deep within.
- Focus on the ideas as they come by beginning to write. Be careful not to take over too much control. Let the words flow onto the page.
- Take deep breathing breaks.
- Take peaceful walking breaks.
- Slow down and resist the feeling that you have to get the words on the page before you forget them. Remind yourself that they are coming to you, and you are listening and writing.
- When tempted to flee the page, calm yourself down with relaxation and deep breathing. Maybe it’s time for a break, but maybe not.
- Make sure you have a quiet, distraction-free environment. There are lots of cool writing apps that have a focus mode, preventing the computer from interrupting you while writing.
- If you get stuck, it’s probably because you are tensing up, so relax yourself and wait for the words. Try not to exert too much force over the language.
You can come up with even more strategies on your own.
Social links: The ties that bind
When you are writing, you are never alone, and mindfulness is a social experience. Yes, you are alone physically, but your whole purpose in writing is to communicate to other people. True mindfulness, strangely, is most intense when you feel connections to others. This is an essential part of being mindful — feeling the infinite connections you have to other people.
Through practice, your inner voice will speak to invisible readers, and you will string thoughts them together on the page. This is when you are truly present, and it is when your best writing will emerge.