Meditation for writers is beneficial because writers are completely overwhelmed these days. Traditionally or indie published, we’re doing a whole lot for our careers – writing, marketing, advertising, speaking, editing, publishing – and usually we have a day job on top of it. Are you stressed out when you wake up? How about by mid-morning? I know you are by the end of the day. I am too. But there is a way to help us all. Meditation. Yes, meditation. Don’t run away!! I’m not asking you to wear Birkenstocks and go vegan. Plenty of creative types meditate.
I won’t insult you by saying here’s a list of celebrities who meditate so you should too but here’s a list of celebrities who meditate on a regular basis, so you should too:
Oprah, Clint Eastwood, Katy Perry, Nicole Kidman, Hugh Jackman, Liv Tyler, Phil Jackson, Yoko Ono, Paul McCartney, Angelina Jolie, Richard Branson, Michael Jordan, Richard Gere, Jennifer Aniston, Keanu Reeves, Kristen Bell
Ok, so they are super famous people and I have no idea how meditation affects them, but I do know how it affects me. I started meditating in 2003 after living in Korea for a year. I didn’t became a Buddhist nun and now float through space and time in a constant state of awareness. No, I still get anxious and antsy and sometimes go for long stretches without meditating. But I am absolutely more self-aware than I ever was before. I know when I need to meditate. I have a meditation cushion on every level of our house so that when I started to get angry or irritable, I could sit and breathe and then life would go back to normal.
There are some real good reasons to meditate and you as a writer are leaving stress and creativity on the table if you aren’t meditating just a little.
Studies show that even ten minutes of meditation before you start your day is helpful to your overall well-being. Before we get into the benefits of meditation, let’s define it:
Meditation is the act of sitting or walking and breathing in order to calm your mind and control your thoughts.
That’s it. Just sit still and be. Breath and focus on your breathing or whatever topic you decide to meditate on. You’ll get antsy. You will want to open your eyes. There will be phantom itches to scratch. Your brain will take you in places you didn’t want to go. But you’ll eventually stop moving, and start reaping the benefits.
Here are 6 Reasons Overwhelmed Writers Should Meditate
Meditation for writers benefit #1- Decreased Anxiety
Yes, studies show meditation can actually lower your blood pressure. Meditation teaches you how to control your thoughts. By selecting your thoughts, you give your brain something to focus on. I decide on a topic and go down the alphabet prescribing a word for each letter of the alphabet. For example, if I’m meditating on meditation, then A is Awareness, B is Buddha, and so on until Z, Zen. Sometimes I simply focus on my breathing and only my breathing.
Meditation for writers benefit #2- Increased Self Awareness and Mindfulness
Self-awareness actually lengthens your attention span because you are more aware of situations you’re in and your reaction to them. Being mindful helps you connect with people on a deeper level. I know when a topic gets me all in a tizzy, and because I know that, I can breathe and decide if I really need to engage or not. Most of the time, it’s not.
Meditation for writers benefit #3- Controlled Stress
Studies show meditation actually lowers the amount of cortisol in your system. Cortisol is the stress hormone. By cultivating the power of thought and breathing through any extreme emotions you have, you’ll feel calmer. I don’t need to tell you how your life is better when you’re calm. You get it.
Meditation for writers benefit #4- Improved Sleep
Anyone with decreased stress and anxiety is going to sleep better. Study after study shows that a calm winding down habit at night increases your chances of better sleep. No electronics, no loud music or bright lights. Just sit and breath. Calm your brain. This to me is like making your to-do list before you go to bed so your brain doesn’t do that for you while you’re trying to sleep.
Meditation for writers benefit #5- Brainstorming Time
Providing yourself time to actually think about a particular subject reduces stress and anxiety. Taking ten minutes or so and directing your brain to think only about that topic actually gives you processing time. I have been known to brainstorm character decisions and town names during my meditation.
Meditation for writers benefit #6- Removed Clutter
This one might be repetitive, but by focusing on your breathing or on one particular topic, you’ve removed the clutter from your mind. This helps your brain calm down and actually increase its ability to create. Sometimes I just let my mind wander wherever it wants for the first few minutes of a meditation, then I focus. That time actually allows my mind to de-clutter itself.
So that’s it. For the sake of your writing, but more for the sake of your health, take a few minutes when you get up in the morning and right before bed. Sit, breathe. Your writing will be better. Your relationships will be richer. And you’ll just flat out feel better.
*A Word on Buddhism*
The Buddhists teach that suffering is caused by craving and desire, and both can be overcome with mindfulness. Those cravings and desire really mean the need to control everything. Type A peeps like me suffer from this all the time. The ability to understand there is nothing you can do about yesterday – it’s over – and there is nothing you can do about tomorrow – it isn’t here yet – can be cultivated through meditation and breathing, which in turns gives you calmness. The ability to grant yourself calmness is worth the minutes spent in meditation.
I attended a talk by Buddhist Monk Thich Nhat Hanh in Denver in 2011, and it was the most amazing experience. The completely full auditorium was a silent as a church mouse with 500 people meditating as he chanted. The positive energy from other participants moved through me, and I’ve now been to Vietnam four times, and have visited a million Buddhist sites all over Southeast Asia. If meditation does nothing more than calming my crazy butt down, then I’m the better for it. So is my writing and so are my relationships. *For more reading on this, pick any book by Revered Vietnamese Buddhist Teacher Thich Nhat Hanh. I recommend Peace is Every Step.