I just published an article on The Write Life about how meditation can increase your ability to focus and get to work on your writing projects. Please give it a read and share your meditation experiences in the comments!
While writing the article, I recommitted to my own meditation practice. As a full-time mom and writer with ADHD, my prefrontal cortex needs all the help it can get. Stimulant medication significantly improves my productivity, interpersonal relationships, and overall quality of life, but for personal reasons I’ve been medication-free for almost two years.
For now I’ve established a regimen of coffee, meditation, and adequate sleep. It’s far from perfect, but I’m convinced — by science and by personal experience — that meditation helps.
I’m not a champion meditator. I suspect most writers aren’t. On the first day of my meditation routine, I had several long, meandering trains of thought. By the third day, I corralled my focus much earlier and more often, but encountered a uniquely writerly issue: as soon as I noticed something, I began to craft a narrative about it.
Writing isn’t just a vocation, it’s a state of being, and it can be nigh impossible to turn that off. However, in trying to direct our minds to a different course, we’re developing mental muscle tone that benefits our writing practice the moment we sit back down at our desks. If I struggle in my meditation practice, I’ll likely have a tough day focusing on writing, too. I have to be vigilant to keep my mind from skittering off track and bouncing between five different tasks.
If nothing else, meditation taught me what it feels like to pause and be present. I get so sucked into my own frenzy of thoughts and internal monologues, I shrink away from the outside world. However, down time is especially nourishing for writers. When we’re attuned to the external world and our minds are quiet, we notice the tiny details that bring our writing to life.
Meditation felt remarkably similar to a physical endurance exercise. My feelings echoed times when I’ve created running habits in the past: I eventually find my sweet spot, the place where my feet feel light and my stride hits just the right length and my breath is strong. My body feels like a perfect machine. I don’t know how I get there or why some days my breath is short and I beg time to pass quickly, but at least I know the feeling I’m chasing.
In meditation, I chase the moment when my mind feels light. My thoughts settle, the rest of the world comes into focus, and I just coast.
If meditation is like running, then I figure I’d better keep it up. I’ve never been a great runner, and I’m not a great meditator, but my brain is my livelihood. The least I can do is give it a daily workout to keep it in shape.