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Why Your Mind’s Working Better When You Practice Meditation

Meditation is a practice, but it is so much more than that. Meditation is the process of bringing your mind into a state of peace and relaxation. Your practice of meditation may be a conscious one, which allows you to notice when you have a thought or need to work on your writing, or it may not be: you may simply start sitting. It does matter for your mind.

Meditation is an extremely useful skill to have, especially if you write fiction which often requires you to focus for long stretches of time. I’ve been practicing for a few years now (more about that here:) and I would say I’m better at writing when I am focused than I have ever been. It’s true for fiction and non-fiction as well. There is also an interesting psychological aspect: one of the very first meditation practices I learned was called “Tranquil Self-Talk,” which is very similar to the way we talk to ourselves when we are stressed out and trying to stay motivated. When we use all four meditation techniques — breath awareness, focusing on your breathing, awareness of your thoughts, and quieting or focusing on your thoughts –we create a space in which our mind can rest and work from. I recommend trying all four of those methods at least once a week.

The reason why you practice is to get better. Getting better is the thing that matters most to all of us at heart. Getting better is what makes us happy and comfortable, what we can count on to help us be more productive. I don’t recommend meditation for everybody. Everyone is different. That being said, it is important to understand the basic principles of each technique and then take some time to practice them systematically. There are very easy ways to start, such as doing a few minutes of deep breathing before you get into the writing. Practice is important, but if meditation is hard because it’s new and you don’t have good tools to practice with, don’t fret. There are plenty of resources out there and good books on the subject to help you along. This guide on breathing is great, so is this guide on Mindful Writing . If you have a Kindle you can find some great meditation videos online such as this one and this one . I’ll talk about some of the basic techniques a little later. Here I want to focus on the “big picture” approach to meditation. How do you build a meditation practice that works for you?

Meditation is the process of bringing your mind into a state of peace and relaxation. The first step is to get into a space of relaxation. If you are already into meditating, start by taking 20 minutes of slow, deep-breathing. You could even do this before you start reading this post. I know the thought of starting to relax can be scary. In fact, it may make you scared to try meditation. You’ll be more likely to get scared when you are trying to focus on anything other than your breath and your breathing. The next step was to focus on some of your deepest, most difficult-to-think-about thoughts. It may be that these thoughts seem like completely negative thoughts but they are actually a part of us all and they don’t stay negative. When I was going through my own depression a few years ago I would often have thoughts that were totally negative or self-absorbed. They would be thoughts that felt like little cracks running through walls. I would notice these thoughts and would try to push them away using what I now call the Buddha Method. Basically the Buddha Method would be to ignore all thoughts of the depression or self-absorption and simply notice them. I didn’t necessarily practice this method because I was trying to suppress my depression. Instead, I had a better understanding of myself and my situation and I could see the thoughts for what they were: tiny, tiny cracks. This was because I took time out and spent time with a therapist, and I learned to take more time out of my life. The next step is to make space in your mind where you can practice meditation. Sometimes you need to do this with your eyes open, but it doesn’t have to be. Open your eyes during your meditation and focus on breathing. You may want to focus on your breath with your hands (and maybe your feet or your torso too) while you read and write. You’ll probably be more likely to get into a space in your mind when your attention is focused and you are breathing.