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The Relationship Between Writing and Meditation

Meditation | Types of Meditation

I write because writing is how I make sense of my world. When I was eight-years-old and lived in Libya with my parents, I spotted my neighbor and his four wives one evening: the wives sat in the back of his pick-up truck and the sheep sat upfront.

When I asked why, I was told that he believed women, not sheep, were dispensable. I wrote about it. Ever since, good or bad, I haven’t known life without writing.

Why I Write

Even on days when I question the importance of writing, I write. Those moments when I get frustrated because writing doesn’t pay well and I get tired of the hustle, I write.

Moments when words betray me or the hurt from sharing stories that open up unhealed wounds gnaw at me, I take to my pen.

Writing is as important to me as breathing. And I wouldn’t have understood this connection had it not been for meditation.

Writing is hard work.

There are ideas. Outside influences. Untold stories. Scary voices. Unshared fears. A million thoughts racing through the mind. It can be a bloody torture if you don’t tame your brain.

Meditation calms the brain. When your nerves are relaxed and body is happy, you process information the “right” way. Because your brain isn’t reacting to outside stimulation, you are more tuned into what YOU want.

And the stories you want to share, not what others think you should write about.

Why Writing is a Form of Meditation

1) Show Up

When I started to meditate, I would cringe at how much my mind wandered. But I showed up everyday. 5 minutes. Then 10 minutes. 20 minutes. Thrice a week to 7 days a week. Slowly but surely I developed a daily meditation practice.

Writing works the same way. You show up everyday no matter what. One word. One page. One scene. One chapter. And you have a book ready, eventually. Yes, there is restlessness and fear of failure.

But, the more you write, the better you get at it. This is one of the similarities of writing and meditation.

2) Let Go

A few years ago, I wouldn’t be kind to myself if I had a bad writing day. I would feel like a failure. That meant I would grab that extra glass of wine or serve myself a second scoop of ice cream and repent it later.

Because of a dedicated meditation practice now, every time that I sit on the floor cross-legged, with my eyes closed and focused on the breath, I have no idea what my experience is going to be like. Some days, I go into such a deep state that I can’t hear the fire trucks on the streets of New York. And then there are days where the sound of my own breath irks me.

I am okay with this uncertainty. Similarly, when I start my laptop to write, I don’t sit down to write with expectations any longer. The minute I take the pressure off myself, my productivity becomes higher.

3) Devotion

Dr. Vasant Lad, enlightened Ayurveda teacher who runs The Ayurvedic Institute in New Mexico, taught me the importance of devotion and morning rituals. In case you are wondering, no, you don’t have to be religious. I am not.

But devotion is key to cultivating a solid writing practice. As I burn incense and bow my head to the “guru,” teachers past and present every morning, and start to write after a short meditation, I find faith — in my devotion, in my hard work, in the universe, in my discipline, in my writing.

Also, there is something humbling about surrendering yourself to your art and remembering that the world is bigger than you. Writing meditation.

4) Protect Your Magic

I used to be careless with my time. Being helpful is one thing; I was always available, never prioritizing, and showing up to everything. As a result, I never protected my writing time or days or energy.

To keep up with my deadlines and my personal life, I compromised on my sleep. Doing so negatively impacted my health. For almost a year, I contracted fever every few weeks. Meditation has trained me to find stillness and not engage in the barrenness of a busy life.

I don’t suffer from FOMO (fear of missing out) any longer. I am present in the moment and show up when my friends and family need me. But I don’t mindlessly say a YES to the million invites any longer. Doing so helps me protect my thoughts, my energy, and my writing.

5) Art of Writing

I never meditate without setting an alarm. Because my monkey brain keeps wondering Are we done yet? I have started to implement the same philosophy with my writing.

Meditation has taught me that instead of setting a word limit, I can set a time limit and write whatever comes to mind. I don't judge or censor what I write in that time. I pay attention to my thoughts and write from a stream of consciousness space.

If a few years ago you'd told me that I would rely on a daily meditation practice to elevate my creativity and productivity, I would have called you “mental.” If you'd said that I would fight for “Creativity and Wellness” to exist in the same space, I would have said, “You need a drink, dawg.”

This is because I used to believe that writers and artists thrive best under chaos. I used to think bouncing off of walls and sleepless minds contributed to the making of a successful writer/poet/artist.

I am grateful to have been proven wrong. Without a meditation practice, we probably don’t tap into the potential of our creative juices.

This month, I invite you take out 10 minutes every day. Close your eyes and focus on your breath. You can sit or lie down. Don’t judge the thoughts that arise. Don’t question any feelings. Just observe.

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