Nothing nurtures your mind as much as meditation, because negotiating your way through a bunch of thoughts is never as powerful as just letting them go.
Think about it, how do you know if someone really loves you?
When you set them free.
The same goes for writing. You will have increased clarity, attention and inspiration if you let go and stop trying to figure everything out for 10 minutes a day.
Believe me, I know how addicted most of us are to working and never putting the pen down. (ME!) I was always afraid that if I didn’t go go go, I’d never get where I dreamed of being. The opposite is actually true. Can you imagine how productive you’d be if you never slept?
But meditation is not resting. It is the conscious act of becoming quieter and more coherent through practice. Let me stress the comparative quieter, rather than the superlative, silent. Many people quit meditation because they say that when they close their eyes their thoughts don’t stop. That’s everybody, including me, and I’ve been meditating for years and get so much out of it.
My advice when first learning to meditate is not to try to stop your thoughts, just try to slow them down by focusing on one word or phrase. Something that brings you joy. If you try to stop your thoughts you’re just going to get frustrated, which is the opposite of meditation. I would never advise you to sit down, close your eyes and become stressed and frustrated for ten minutes every day.
Instead focus on one positive thought and as your thoughts stray, return to that one word. A mantra controls the two-year-old part of our brain that can be easily distracted and distraught. Just like the mantra I used to use when my son was two, “Ice cream, lollipops, yum yum yum yum.” It keeps him holding my hand and not running off into the street because he’s so focused. At every age and every stage of our lives, we have some version of ice cream or lollipops that can really harness our focus. It’s OK to use those to help you with your meditation.
If you actually slowed your thoughts to just one word for 10 minutes you would have an extremely blissful experience. However, your goal is not to reach Nirvana in a day, nor is it to write a novel in a day. The goal is to grow through practice in meditation, writing, and life.
Still not convinced?
Let me put it this way, you will get more clarity from meditation than an hour of obsessing in your head.
Which brings us to the other reason many people avoid meditation. If you get really quiet, all the painful thoughts and feelings that you usually distract yourself from will come up. That’s fine. It’s another aspect of meditation that makes it so transformative. If painful emotions arise during meditation just watch them move and shift. Weeping meditations are totally appropriate when necessary. It’s actually a good sign that you’re increasing your tolerance for beauty. Then outside in your real life seek out any help you need, which might be simple companionship. Whatever happens is exactly what’s supposed to happen, keep the faith and keep going back in.
If you do this for a week you will have far more clarity when your write, your process will come together more quickly and organically. Repeating a positive, forward-moving phrase can help shore up all those stray thoughts. This can be anything that’s meaningful to you.
All you have to do is start. Just like when you were a toddler, those initial learning experiences, where the teacher was just trying to get your attention, are the periods of exponential growth.