Sunday, August 11, 2013

How Daily Meditation Can Improve Your Writing and Your Life


By Karin Gillespie

I flirted with meditation long before I actually committed to it.  To be honest, my first few sessions were boring. I’d expected special effects (a vision of a lotus blossom or a white healing light) and when I experienced only a mild torpor, I assumed I was doing it wrong.

Luckily I kept persisting and now I couldn’t imagine my life without meditation. I especially couldn’t imagine my writing life without it. Writing without first meditating would feel as odd as showering before getting undressed. For me, it’s a way of preparing the mind to create.

Experts will give you a laundry list of why you should meditate (It reduces stress! You’ll sleep better! Your skin will look like a baby’s butt!) but let's set aside these happy claims and get to the crux of the matter. The most important reason to meditate is to learn how your mind works.

Most people are extremely caught up in the stream of their thoughts; so much, in fact, they scarcely notice their preoccupation, kind of the way a fly doesn’t notice it lives in garbage. But when you meditate, you deliberately try to pay attention to your thoughts.  It’s hard to do at first, because thoughts are like an episode of “Breaking Bad;” they’re so thoroughly engaging you get caught up in them and forget you were just supposed to be noting them.

So why is meditation important to writers?

Writers are constantly mired in their thoughts, and the best writing comes when thoughts are ego-based.  

 The ego is a menace to writers. It loves predictability, has no originality, and swings from mercilessly belittling its host to giving him or her ridiculous unearned praise. It’s impatient to finish a piece before it’s ready and thrives on fear-based thoughts of any type. It will settle for less than stellar prose, and every few minutes it wants to go on Facebook to see how many likes it got on its last post

Trust me. You do not want this entity in you head when you’re writing. It’s like sharing your office with the world’s worst garage band.

Ego gets in the way of FLOW. (There are a lot of names for FLOW; some call it the muse, some call it the subconscious. The name isn’t important. But most every writer is familiar with FLOW. It’s a state when the writing seems simple and natural and effortless, like a kid playing in a mud puddle.)

When you meditate regularly, you get much better at recognizing and banishing ego, and thus have much longer episodes of FLOW.

It’s that simple.             

And so is meditation. I do it fifteen minutes a day and keep my eyes open otherwise I’d fall asleep. I sit normally and don’t do any fancy pretzel things with my legs. I don’t say OHMMMMM or try to find my third eye. I just watch my endless parade of thoughts. I do not try to stop thinking (although sometimes that will happen naturally.) I just observe. And the more I learn about how my ego operates (it’s incredibly wily) the less likely I’m to be tempted by its crafty Tomfoolery.   

So if meditation is so spectacular, why doesn’t everyone do it?

Mainly because its results are initially subtle and people tend to give up too early as I did. Also we live in a culture of busyness and sitting around doing nothing seems dysfunctional. 

But there’s another huge reason people quit meditation:
 It freaks them out.

If you’ve been stuck in your head for a very long time, never practicing any type of mindfulness, meditation can be a harrowing wake-up call. Remember the fly I mentioned earlier? When you meditate, you're like that fly, suddenly waking up and say, “Oh my gosh! I’m living among potato peels, rotten meat and filth. This is revolting.”  That’s how it feels when you first recognize how thoroughly you’ve been caught up in ego-based thoughts.

You won’t be happy about your realizations, and you’ll want to go back to being an oblivious fly. Thus the ego will be in charge once again, and the writing will suffer

But if you can get through that initial rough period, not only will your writing improve, your entire life will get better, because FLOW doesn’t simply exist in your writing space. It’s everywhere, and it’s everything the ego isn’t: wise, generous, kind, nonjudgmental, funny, original and loveable.

Meditation helps you to tap into the FLOW. It’s no wonder all the great spiritual leaders have practiced it, and it’s likely to be the best thing you’ve ever done for your writing career.
          

29 comments:

  1. Thanks so much for this post, Karin! I'm going to try this.

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  2. Yes, Karin--I've been thinking about this for a long time, but wasn't sure how to begin, and when I do begin, I'm brain-spinning, making grocery lists and grinding my teeth--the opposite of what I'm trying to do.

    Thank you for sharing!

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  3. Wow, Karin- thanks!! I'm going to try this today.

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  4. Thanks, Wendy and Brenda. Don't resist that brain spinning, Kit. It will slow down naturally with time. Just start out with noticing it.

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  5. Karin, great post. I'm sort of flirting with full-blown meditation. Put my toes in the water with yoga, and need to get my harumphing self together to try to DO it.

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  6. Love it! I want my skin to look like a baby's butt... (or do I?) As a yogi, I reap the benefits of that practice, but I definitely want to move deeper into the meditative practice. Thanks for the inspiration.

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  8. Karin I'm a fellow blogger and meditator really enjoyed reading your article. I started a donation based daily meditation program to help others establish their daily practice. I've posted link to your article on our facebook page - please check out www.telesangha.com and let me know what you think!

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  9. Karin,
    You're inspiring me to try meditation again! I was one of those people who closed my eyes and then just got very sleepy... I'll try it with my eyes open this week and see if I can last longer than 5 minutes ;). Thanks for the terrific post!

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  10. I love yoga and have tried off and on to be good at meditating. My monkey mind jumps all over the place, but the moments of mindfulness are always beneficial. I am currently doing the 21-day meditation challenge and the past week has been truly wonderful. It definitely makes me want to continue meditating daily. Thanks for sharing the benefits of meditation for writers.

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  11. This is one of many reasons Karin is such an inspired writer... And now I feel as if "I'm in" on one of her secrets! ;-) Great post!!

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  12. I do this!! I've been crowing to everyone I know about how I love to meditate for 10 minutes in the morning, but now I'm going to work up to 15. Meditation is also good for your health. Thank you, Karin!!

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  14. Great post! Meditation is so great for creativity, writing or otherwise, if only to help clear out the clutter to get to the good stuff!

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  15. Meditation is very essential for all categories of human. It keeps a significant role in life to make it relax-full, stressless & joyful. Learn more about meditation kriya by Shri. Chamunda Swamiji, he is an experienced meditation instructor, just visit the site for deep knowledge http://www.chamundaswamiji.com/

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