The Inner Art of Meditation
Is meditation as a creative technique new to you? If so, this isn't about adopting a spiritual belief. Meditation is just a great way to hang out with your mind and learn what it has to tell you, an invaluable tool for writers. First though, you do need to let the mind settle. This isn't about getting rid of all your thoughts and becoming a calm, peaceful, loving, compassionate, monk-like person. (Although that could happen, too.) It's more a process of becoming more yourself, and loving the person you discover.
We're not trying to get somewhere, or have a particular experience. We're just hanging out with our minds and getting to know them better by listening and observing, the way we might get to know a friend or a pet. We sit down in a chair, allow ourselves to settle, breathe and see what's going on in there. There's more to it than that, but not a lot! Simplicity is important.
Meditation's effectiveness in lowering stress and increasing focus and concentration is well documented. Its effects can be even more profound than that, though, and I encourage creative people to devote some time (even just 15 minutes once or twice a day can help enormously) engaging in a meditative practice. Simple breath meditation is a great starting place.
"To live a creative life ..." says psychologist Joseph Chilton Pearce,
"... we must lose our fear of being wrong." I believe this is the aspect of creativity many of us find the most difficult to navigate. However, when we're willing to make "mistakes," to do it "wrong," we reframe what it means to live a creative life. The fear of making a mistake is quite natural and for many of us starts in childhood. But it can block us from trying new things, or trying them in new ways. If we can stay open--through simple mind-body techniques like mindfulness meditation, breathwork and body awareness--to whatever's happening as we create, we discover that "mistakes" are actually new ways of seeing and new ways of expressing. That's the creative process.
YouTube is a rich source for guided mindfulness meditations. The following are some of my favourites, but everyone relates to meditation and teachers differently, so I encourage you to explore and find what appeals to you. To start with, search "guided breath meditations" and see what you find.
Kim Eng's 10-minute breath meditation is here. Eng is a meditation teacher and works in partnership with Eckhart Tolle.
Jon Kabat-Zinn's 10-minute guided breath meditation is here.
Kabat-Zinn is the founding director of the well-known Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction and Relaxation program at the University of Massachusetts Medical School.
An eight-minute guided breath meditation by a clinical psychologist based on the work of Kabat-Zinn is here.
Some of my favourite books on bringing a mind-body approach to creativity are any of the books of Eric Maisel, an American psychotherapist, teacher, coach and author, and the two classics Writing Down the Bones and Wild Mind by creative writing pioneer Natalie Goldberg.