Meditation is one of the best things we can do for ourselves as writers. Regular meditation will:
- undo the damage of multitasking
- give us clarity
- soothe the body and reverse the negative effects of stress
- increase creativity
- provide entry to the creative flow/writer’s trance state of consciousness
- reduce anxiety and therefore reduce resistance to our writing.
Meditation improves not only how your brain functions, but if you practice it enough, meditation will also change how your brain is structured. (Take a look at Sharon Begley’s Train Your Mind, Change Your Brain for more info on this.) The more you meditate, the easier it is to meditate.
So Why Do I Resist?
I ALWAYS feel better after meditation; I’ve never regretted time spent practicing it. So why do I so often think with a mental whine, “Eennggghhh, I don’t wanna meditate.” when it’s time to turn off the lights and the media and tune in?
It’s not like it’s hard to do. Well, let me rephrase that, it doesn’t take any great physical effort to meditate. I don’t get out of breath or sweaty or sore doing it.
What it requires is effort from my will, that vital part of my mind that focuses my attention. It requires consistently, repeatedly refocusing my attention on my original intention (which can be my prayers, my breath or listening to sounds). It requires training the monkey mind that wants to flit all over the place getting into mischief.
Power of the Will or Power of Habit?
In short, meditation requires will power. I’ve always said that I prefer to rely on habits rather than will power because will power has failed me so many times. If you doubt that your will has failed you, think of the New Year’s Resolutions, diets, budgets, deals about writing so many pages a week, etc. that you’ve broken.
Over-reliance of will power can lead to a downward spiral. When I most need to meditate (or exercise will power in another way), my will power is often at its weakest. That’s why I need to meditate, to improve the will I need to meditate in the first place. Habits, on the other hand, create momentum that carries us through on the days when the will is weak.
That’s why I have a self-care habit to meditate for 30 minutes a day, six days a week. And that’s also why I got so unstable when my meditation habit got fuzzy a while back. It was harder to show up for Product Time writing (which I blamed on the fact that I was waiting for feedback from my editor so I could start revising and didn’t know what else to do). My Product Time tracking got hazy and I wasn’t quite sure what I was doing with my writing time. It was harder to show up for Process and my other self-care practices, too.
I didn’t fall off the wagon, but I was bouncing perilously close to the edge of the wagon’s gate.
Reinforcing the Will
Right now it takes more will power to show up for meditation. So I remind myself how good it will feel after I meditate. I recall that I will sleep better, find it easier to eat the healthy food my wiser self wants, and be more relaxed and creative.
I am precise about what my meditation habit is and I do exactly what I’ve committed myself to doing. I’m strengthening the foundations of my habits so that I can rely on them again.
And I’m writing this blog about meditation so that someone else can benefit from this reminder. The adage is “We teach best what we most needed to learn.” Sometimes we write best what we most need to remember.
What do you need to remember? Who might benefit from reading your reminder? What are you waiting for? Go write. Or go meditate.