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  • Writer's pictureJ. R. Erickson

Stillness First: Mediation and Writing

Writing may seem like a relatively silent endeavor. However, we need only tune into the mind’s internal dialogue to recognize it is anything but. When we are brainstorming ideas, writing an article, researching or simply chastising ourselves for not reaching our 1,000 word goal today; our brains are talking a mile a minute. In a half hour, we can move from complete confidence in our project to abject fear and failure. Despite the frightening swings of our thoughts, they are not our reality. Arriving at a deeper space of knowing shows us how to find freedom in stillness, which ultimately crumbles the many walls (or blocks) that prevent us from touching our authentic creativity.

Meditation is a process that guides us out of the chitta vrtti, as we call it in yoga, which is a sanskrit term meaning chatter of the mind, and into a space of peaceful awareness. It is not in our experience of meditation that we sit down to write, but merely to exist. Here the incessant growling recedes to a gentle murmur and then, if you really let go, ceases all together. Gone are the to-do lists, the feelings of laziness, the fears of failure and even all that existed before and all that might exist at some future point. When we connect to the infinite now in a mindful way and consciously choose to allow thoughts to merely be one ebb in an endlessly flowing tide – here and now gone – we reach the self that lives deeper than our material world. It is this self that is freed of the limitations of our dense form, our constructs of reality and our attachments to this identity whether that be a job, a hobby or even an image in the mirror. It is learning to hear the voice that is voiceless and when you return to the world of thought, the world within is much richer and more prepared to discover writing anew.

I have been meditating for several years and though I believe it’s important to not approach meditation with a goal in mind – such as being a better writer – I know in my heart that our endless determination to improve ourselves is often what leads us to meditation. The same holds true for many writers. We want to be better, more devoted, more in touch with our characters, our narrative and our audience. All in life is connected and when you integrate mediation into your daily life, connection begins to permeate elsewhere. Connection unfolds in your writing, your relationships and your interactions with the world.

So I ask only that you consider it with an open mind. Perhaps you ask the question: How might meditation affect my writing? Maybe take it further: How might meditation affect my entire life? And then try it. Find a quiet place (I love the woods) and sit comfortably, palms up if it”s comfortable and bring your awareness to your breath. Other stuff will come at you – sounds, thoughts, physical discomforts – acknowledge them and then let them go. I like to imagine encapsulating thoughts in a bubble and blowing them off of my fingertips, letting them drift away. Maybe try this for five minutes a day, more if you’re feeling adventurous. Perhaps that is as far as you go or maybe you sit down to write after your meditations – a journal entry or just a half hour on your writing project of choice – and see what new ideas appear. When we meditate, we find openings that were previously closed, inspiration that before was dormant.

Meditation is the tongue of the soul and the language of our spirit. – Jeremy Taylor

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