A consistent meditation practice infuses and informs everything life, offering you a creative freedom quite unmatched by any other practice. Through stilling your mind and relocating your centre, in as little as five minutes a day, meditation offers a plethora of benefits to both your life and creativity.
Even the greatest authors and artists can experience resistance or find themselves stuck on a creative cul de sac. When creativity feels thwarted or inspiration dries up, it’s natural to look outside ourselves for insight, be it through the work of others, a walk in nature, or some other kind of stimulation for our work.
Yet frequently the key to being more creative is inside us. To truly flourish in our lives and world, we must alter our inner conditions. Meditation helps liberate a writer or artist’s creativity through the act of turning inward in stillness and contemplation, which is as nurturing to the soul as it is to your writing and art.
Deep inside of you there is always stillness and tranquillity, but in our non-stop whirl of existence, it’s easy to forget that you can access it whenever you choose. No matter how much attention you pay to the environment you live and work in, the company you keep or the food you eat, if your mind cannot be still, you can never truly relax. If you can’t relax, you’ll find your ability to be creative is greatly diminished.
By turning inward, and being mindful and aware – of your breathing, your posture, your own immaculate being, and allowing everything else to drop away – you find yourself free to express your own truth and trust yourself, and in turn trust your innate creativity. “Meditation will make you a better writer,” says author Farnoosh Brock. “Without a simple meditation practice, you’re not tapping into your full creative juices and you’re robbing yourself of becoming the best writer you can be on many levels.”
Meditation is food for the soul and fuel for your creativity. You cannot be fluid and therefore creative if your mind is chaotic or head heavy with thoughts. Equally when under stress, inspiration can become all the more elusive. Yet the serenity and sense of detachment experienced when the body is relaxed, the restless mind at peace, and our entire being in a blissful state, which the Buddhists describe as being ‘in the world but not of it’, naturally enhances creativity.
Many different styles exist but all involve focusing the mind in order to develop states that are calmer, clearer and more peaceful. Meditation is often associated with the philosophies of the east because these traditions have developed it as a spiritual discipline but it is merely a state of mind, a natural and beautiful way to tap the limitless potential of your being, and explore the inner life of the unconscious.
A consistent practice can dissolve any internal barriers between you and your writing, allowing you to drop any resistance, creating the ideal conditions for creativity. “If you’re a writer, you should meditate,” says Orna Ross, novelist and author of Inspiration Meditation: A Guide For Writers Artists & Everyone.
“When we take silent time to meditate, a shift happens within. Our consciousness expands, our awareness deepens, and we come into the presence of what Albert Einstein described as the most beautiful emotion we can experience, the [underlying] power of all true art and science,” says Orna. Increased inspiration, vision, understanding, and perception all flourish with greater ease, which are wonderful qualities for writers and artists.
“These are the human qualities that mark out the good writer from the mediocre, the great writer from the good. For centuries, it was thought that such qualities were the innate gifts of a special elite — born not made. Now neuroscience is showing through brain mapping that such qualities are available to all who meditate regularly, creating the mental and emotional conditions in which they are most likely to flourish.”
Clarity and Focus
In accessing the place wherein you fuse with your inner self in serene stillness, you quieten the internal chatter of your mind. Just as it’s harder to work at a cluttered desk and office, your mind also needs to be regularly cleared, cleansed and renewed so in turn, your writing and art can reflect that inner clarity too.
“Meditation cleans out the brain clutter,” says writing coach and author, Lauren Sapala. It gives your mind space and energy to encompass a wider field of consciousness. And writers—as modern-day artists in an online world—need the most spacious field of consciousness they can possibly command.” Just 20 to 30 minutes of meditation has been shown to increase focus, reduce stress and anxiety, and even lessen physical pain.
When writing you have to create the circumstances for your creativity to come through you. “Meditation trains your mind to let your heart speak up once in a while too,” says Lauren. “By strengthening your connection to your heart, your intuition will kick in more powerfully than ever before. You’ll get solid gut feelings about which creative ideas you should pursue, and the inner bedrock of spiritual confidence to support the follow-up work on them.”
Meditation helps you connect with your inner self – your soul – awakening you to who you really are, behind the protective layers and masks that hide your glorious being. Supporting you as you clear away the blocks or stories that fragment and stifle your expression, whether they come from an imbalance in body, mind or soul, in turn allowing you to facilitate creativity with equanimity and ease.
When you open the gateway to your soul and nurture your inner self, a natural sense of grace ensues, lightening your very being. That aspect of your psyche, that enlightened, transcendent state allows you to embrace the magnificent fullness of your being, complete with any [illusionary or real] blemishes, insecurities, inadequacies, limitations, imperfections and all. As you find your own sacred truth through even the most humble of meditation practices, your true voice as an artist emerges of itself.
Freedom from Unhealthy Thinking
Meditation cleanses and nourishes the spirit. It helps us to experience calmness from within and let go of feelings of fear, sadness, and anger, which can make us emotionally weak and unbalanced, in turn negatively affecting our creative expression. Even our self-control improves, allowing us to assess things rationally and feel less nervous or compulsive.
“Meditation cultivates an awareness of what is happening in the present moment. This is how we become more conscious. This is how we wake-up,” says Jon Kabat-Zinn PhD., founder and Director of the Stress Reduction Clinic in Massachusetts. “You will soon realise that your mental burdens are dropping away one by one, and that you are gaining an intuitive power you could not have previously dreamed possible.”
Another utterly delightful consequence of tapping into your own unlimited supply of inspiration through meditation, is that it naturally fuels your motivation – goals become more attainable, dreams move within reach and we are undeniably more creative. “Here’s where you have an opportunity to meet your own mind, to examine what it does, its ploys and shenanigans,” says author Natialie Goldberg.
“This continual practice expresses your true determination, signals to your unconscious, to your deep resistance that you mean business (and then your resistance roars loader and you roar back).” Even when tough times or situations threaten your equilibrium, meditation can be a source of both power and calm in your life if you allow it, reaffirming your purpose and keeping you moving forward in the direction of your goals and dreams.
Research published in the journal Frontiers in Cognition (Colzato et al., 2012), found that an ‘open monitoring’ style of meditation can promote ‘divergent thinking’, that is those wonderful moments of creative insight where new ideas are generated, which is a crucial at the start of any creative process.
Another study by Ren et al. (2011) looked at another crucial area of creativity: problem-solving. Revealing that those who learned a simple meditation technique involving focusing on the breath, solved more of insight problems, offering more reasons to get your Om on.
Beginning a Mediation Practice
In order to dedicate yourself to any practice, you’ll find it far easier if you actually enjoy it. Just as going to the gym is irksome for those who prefer to exercise outdoors, of the many different styles of meditation, it’s important to find a meditation practice that suits you. From mantras to mindfulness, tonglen to Taoist inner alchemy, Native American spirit walks to Zazen, there are as many styles of meditation as there are ways to express yourself creatively so make sure you enjoy the process or you’ll find it far harder to motivate yourself to meditate.
Just as the brain craves activity, the mind doesn’t like to be still and drop its resistance to the moment but if you begin gently, kindly, allowing yourself to break through any initial resistance or discomfort, you will find that meditation becomes a blissful, enjoyable experience, which is dynamic in its stillness.
Within a short space of time instead of resenting, or even avoiding your practice, you’ll look forward to it. Like your writing and art, consistency is always preferable to sporadic bursts of practice. Even if you simply relax your body, slow and even the tempo of your breath for a few minutes on waking, or before you begin your creative work, it can dramatically affect how you feel and in turn enhance your creativity, no matter how humble it may be.
This simple act of resting in aware stillness, and allowing your brain shut off for 10-30 minutes in the morning and again at night may not seem like much but offers a plenitude of benefits. The most beautiful of all is how a dedicated practice – no matter how slight – allows your normal moment to moment awareness and conscious state to swiftly replicate your meditative state. Whereby your entire life becomes your meditation.
Do you meditate? Share your experiences in the comments.
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