Why Writers Should Practice Meditation – And How to Get Started

2013.4.10 Writing

Meditation is usually associated with relaxation and stress release, but those outcomes are more accurately by-products of the practice.

The true purpose of meditation is to quiet the mind.

When that happens, all kinds of personal benefits ensue, including improved health and resiliency, greater awareness, and the spiritual awakening that comes from tapping into one’s true nature.

A quiet mind allows you to move beyond thought to the place where we all create, which is the space between our thoughts, and that’s a good place to be if you are a writer.

Releasing Stress and Mental Blocks

The reason we experience stress, writer’s block, and other counter-productive behaviors and conditioned responses, is that we are stuck in our thoughts. The first challenge is recognizing this, and then ceasing to fight it, because any resistance only serves to immobilize you further.

The more you struggle with your thoughts the more you reinforce your physical condition. You are literally squeezing your thought patterns down to a few, thereby dramatically increasing their intensity. This leads to even greater levels of stress, including uncontrollable anger.

Find the Space Between Thoughts

Discovering the space between thoughts is something that healthy individuals do on a regular basis. It can happen by taking a walk through nature, or when actively engaged with activities you enjoy, such as writing.

The process of writing is different for everyone. However, for most of us it brings our attention inward, where we reconnect with our true selves, thereby making new discoveries.

To find the space between thoughts you have to first give yourself permission to do so. You have to trust your capabilities for getting there, just as a meditator will trust that the mantra will effectively lead to states of greater awareness.

How to Meditate

Traditional meditation involves the repetition of a mantra – which is a sound. The word mantra roughly translates as “instrument of the mind,” and its use helps to create the desired quieting of the mind.

A breath awareness meditation is a simple and universal approach – one in which the breath serves as the mantra.

Steps for practicing a mindfulness meditation

  1. While it helps to have a quiet environment, you can meditate on an airplane just well as in the privacy of your home. If possible, it also helps to dim the lights.

  2. Begin by sitting down. Get get comfortable and assume good posture, either sitting cross-legged on the floor or in a chair with your feet on the ground. 

  3. Close your eyes and allow your awareness to go to your breathing. Innocently observe your breath as you breathe in and out. 

  4. As you observe your breath you may notice it changes – in speed, rhythm, and depth. It may even stop for a moment. Whatever happens, just continue observing it without expectation. 

  5. From time to time your attention may drift to a thought in your mind, a sensation in your body, or a noise in the environment. Whenever you notice you are not observing your breath, simply bring your awareness back to your breathing. 

  6. Continue this practice for at least 5 minutes, and for as long as it is comfortable. Over time you will be able to sustain the practice for the optimum period of 30 minutes.

  7. Keep your eyes closed when you decide to stop, and just remain silent for 30 seconds or so before getting up to allow your mind and body to stabilize.

  8. Slowly open your eyes, bring the lights up, and return to your writing.

Writing is a Process

I recently finished writing my first book: Built-In Social: Essential Social Marketing Practices for Every Small Business. I can say with certainty that I experienced my share of writer’s block, frustration, and even a bit of anger because I was holding on too tight at times.

Having never written a complete book, I had some fears about its accomplishment. What I discovered was writing well is largely a process of remembering, and then extending those ideas further. That was possible by practicing ways to maintain a quiet mind.

Writing is a process, and once you find yours, everything becomes much easier. Then it’s just a matter of doing the work.

The same holds true for just about any endeavor, including social marketing.

In fact, the promise of Built-In Social is a reliable process that takes the stress and anxiety out of using social marketing well – including, and especially, writing valuable content that attracts business leads.

Are you and your business ready to write?

About the Author:  Jeff Korhan, MBA, helps mainstream small businesses create exceptional customer experiences that accelerate business growth. Get more from Jeff on LinkedInTwitter and Google+.

Jeff is also the author of Built-In Social: Essential Social Marketing Practices for Every Small Business – Released April 15, 2013 (Wiley)

Photo Credit 

Writing to Remember

Writing, and writers block especially, are based on the idea that you are creating something. The truth is you are simply remembering, and that will happen naturally if you simply show up and start writing.

Any adult has had enough life experiences to fill multiple books. They only need to sit down and start writing and those long lost ideas and stories will come forward, at least that is what I am discovering in writing my first solo book.

How you organize for your writing will vary. Some people insist on detailed outlines while the rest of us prefer to create a structure and let   the final structure flow from the writing. I’m reminded of the line from the film The Social Network in which Sean Parker comments to Mark Zuckerberg, “You don’t what it is yet.”

That sums up my approach to writing, one that I’ve come to learn others share. To find out what this thing is you only have to show up, have a sense of where you are going, and then trust the writer – that’s you.

There is No Writers Block

There are two reasons people believe they have writers block. The first is they doubt themselves. You must have the confidence that your writing will flow and lead somewhere, and it will do exactly that when you least expect it.

My approach is to write to a question or a couple of meaningful sentences. This is only to get started. Where is goes from there is a discovery of is a combination of something remembered that comes alive in its new context.

The second reason for writers block is the idea that you are creating something brand new – you aren’t.  Human beings have experiences every day. It’s the intersection of them with different places and timelines that freshens and shapes them into something new.

Would you like another idea?  Try occasionally listening to music from your past and let it transport your mind and memory across time and to different places. It’s a great way to bring ideas forward.

Give yourself a break. Trust that your ideas are in there somewhere. Then unlock them by engaging with your writing process.

Writing for Business Lessons

Consider that much of the wisdom that you have acquired was the result of overcoming challenges, some of which were painful. Now that the memory of the pain has passed, the value of those lessons can be more readily applied to your business.

Having founded and sold a couple of successful business, I can assure you I would do a few things differently if I could.  I know that from looking back with a clear mind and no emotional attachments – and remembering.

When you are close to and emotionally involved with something like a small business it can be difficult to be objective.

Consider writing about some of your past or current challenges and you may discover the answers are right there for you – they just need to be unlocked. I’ve often used this blog to write about business circumstances where I’m trying to get more clarity. It works.

Do you need to improve your business process, or is the problem a matter of better execution? Take the time to write about it and you’ll most likely uncover solutions from your years of hard work that are now ready to be applied.

Your business and mine are constantly evolving. What was right for us 6 months ago may not be relevant much longer.

Use your blog as a laboratory. Test new and old ideas alike and share with your community. You don’t have to create a thing.

Just write to remember.

What are the essential components of your writing process?   

Leave a comment below to share your thoughts.

Until next time, Jeff

Photo Credit