Meditation and Writing: (how) can they co-exist?

by Starla J. King on May 18, 2012

A couple months ago, I stumbled across an excerpt by Elizabeth Gilbert (author of Eat, Pray, Love and, admittedly, a writer crush of mine) suggesting that meditation diminishes her writing process. *Gasp*

Then this week the mighty Danielle LaPorte writes a blog post called “Why I stopped meditating: acts of rebellion + intention.”  Oh dear.  

And it just so happens that I’m deep into month 5 of a yearlong Meditation Study.  Uh oh.

SjK’s writing prep routine apple cart upended.  

But I admit — I’ve been futzing around for a while now with this notion that maybe writing and meditation don’t mix.  *Ouch* 

That, as Liz (yes, I pretend we’re friends) Gilbert mentioned, maybe there’s advantage to an unquiet mind for the process of creating.

That when our thoughts are scrabbling over each other to be first arrivals on our writing page/screen, we are more productive (better?) writers.

That when words are running intertwining laps in our head, the creative combinations are more plentiful, artful, unusual, and ready to be expressed.

Yet just now, as I was trying to untangle that last sentence from the exuberant word party in my head, I automatically stopped, closed my eyes, took a deep breath and took a moment to calm my mind.  Giving the sentences a chance to arrange themselves into neat little rows.  And one sentence stepped to the front of the line and said Ok, I’m ready… write me down.  So I did (the one about “intertwining laps”).

But what about the time I simultaneously “wrote” 3 blog posts in my head while working out at the gym, then lost them all when I meditated before writing those thoughts down?

And the time I was SO jazzed to pour out an essay or poem or blog post that I could barely sit still… but did anyway in meditation … and calmed the jazz right out of me?

It happens.  

Words fade in the stillness of a profoundly quiet heart.

Sentences lose their urgency in the deep calm of OM.

And not for one moment would I give up that grounding, awe-inspiring, clarifying, omg-inducing daily meditation impact.   And not for one moment would I give up a life committed to full writing and the furthering of creativity in myself and the world around me. 

But I would (and I did) re-arrange my process. 

On those days when my words are begging to be let loose in an unbridled ink cascade, meditation waits til later… becoming then the quiet after the storm…the shavasana of the writing practice.

On those days when my words are quiet, asking instead for space to incubate and re-form, meditation comes first… becoming then the spark of feeling that climbs its way from my heart … to my mind … to the page.  (Turns out meditation can also stir sh*t up.  Bigtime.  The stuff of novels.  And blog posts. And poetry.  And painting.  And creative expression.  Oh yeah).

And on all days I continue the dance between quiet and loud(ish), restful and active, input and output, warm up and cool down… with two golden intertwining threads through it all.  Yep, you guessed it:

Meditation & Writing.  Coexisting. Happily. 

(By the way… turns out Danielle’s blog post isn’t actually a nudge to stop meditating.  *phew*)

What’s your practice? 

Facebook Twitter Email

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Branáin May 23, 2012 at 10:59 am

As a writer and meditator, I struggle with finding balance between the two. My meditation practice involves stripping away the delusions that keep me from seeing the world clearly, but many times I feel like writing fiction gives me the exact opposite.

I have started to focus more on using mindfulness meditation as part of my writing (or my writing practice). I also make a point to keep my mind focused on my writing, rather than jumping to Facebook or the sounds of the neighborhood.

Notice the distractions, come back to the words on that I’m putting on the page.

Mindful writing.

Reply

Starla J. King May 23, 2012 at 11:36 am

Branáin,

Mindful writing — what a powerful phrase and concept. The use of meditation “techniques” to stay present to the writing. I love it!

Thanks for sharing here; I’ll take this “mindful writing” with me for sure.

Reply

Sylvie May 27, 2012 at 1:12 am

hello, I use journaling as a meditative practice. It helps quieting my mind down to write just as “watching the thoughts as cloud floating by”. Because when you are writing them down naturally your flow of thoughts becomes slower : it takes time to write ! and you focus to one idea at a time. But THEN if you need to come back to what you were thinking about you have notes !

Reply

Starla J. King May 28, 2012 at 5:09 pm

Sylvie, I love applying that meditation concept (of watching thoughts as clouds floating by) to writing. You’re so right about writing taking time, and the value of that. I make sure to use pen and paper regularly to slow my writing down more than flying fingers on the keyboard.

I think many people see journalling as a way to stay heavily IN one’s thoughts, so seeing it as a meditation in and of itself brings a beautiful energy to the concept of journalling.

Having notes about our own thoughts = priceless.

Reply

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: