Sunday, June 5, 2016

writing is a meditation

If you practice meditation you know how hard it can be to quiet your mind while sitting in silence. Our minds like to be busy--thinking back on things that have happened, thinking ahead to what awaits us, guessing, planning, judging, fretting--when our goal in meditation is to let go of all those thoughts so we can remain calm, mindful, and compassionate.

When our minds wander during meditation, we are encouraged to simply acknowledge the interruption and refocus on the body. When thoughts arise, we label them "just thoughts" or "just thinking" and move our attention back to the next breath--in, out, in, out. Letting go of intrusive thoughts helps mitigate the impact of negative emotions such as anger, anxiety, bitterness and resentment that may have a strangle hold on us.

This, I believe, is a practice writers should embrace. We are accustomed to labeling our own negative thoughts as "voices" we hear. It's an interesting metaphor. We are advised not to pay attention to the voices of negativity that discourage our creative efforts...voices that insist we're wasting our time, that we have no hope of success, that our work is meaningless or inferior. Voices that make us feel guilty for indulging in something we enjoy when others are so hard at work.

The voice of a parent might come back to us...something about taking life seriously, earning a decent living or keeping up appearances. It might a teacher or boss or co-worker, all of them with your best interests in mind as they scatter aspersions and dissuasions and conventional expectations along your path as if your journey weren't difficult enough without them.
The point is that those negative voices are just thoughts. Just echoes from the past, not worth arguing about. They are opinions, and they do not have your best interests in mind at all. Banish them! Return to the breath. Or take a walk. Or call up a friend--someone who encourages you and supports your dream. Someone who understands how hard this is and respects you for trying. Someone whose friendship isn't invested in your success or wealth or fame.

Do whatever it takes to stay on the optimistic side. Turn your attention back to the truth: 
When we choose to pursue something as fleeting as a creative urge or as elusive as a dream, negativity is intrusive. Think about it. Meditate on it. Learn how to let it go.

For more on writing and meditation visit my friend Madhu Wangu, at .

She's the expert.

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