Meditation for Writers

Cats and Buddha

I had the good fortune to meet the spiritual teacher Cheri Huber in person. At the time, I didn’t know who she was. I just bumped into her at a book festival in San Francisco where I was a volunteer. Our chance meeting changed my life in ways I’m still discovering nearly 20 years later.

How to Earn a Darn Good Living as a Writer…

My job at the book festival was to move through the crowd and help people. Usually, all I did was tell them where the bathrooms were.

The building that housed the book festival was huge and most of the excitement was up at the front where cookbook authors were putting on cooking shows. When the crowds became too much, I slipped away to the back of the building where very few people went. That’s where the cheap booths were for authors on small budgets. And that’s where I bumped into Cheri.

Turning Off  Mind Chatter.

Dressed in a simple robe, she sat at a folding card table with a few paperback books on display. There wasn’t another soul in sight. I didn’t know it at the time, but later realized she was meditating when I disturbed her. She looked up at me with joy-filled eyes and the kindest smile. She positively radiated love. For the first time in my life, I felt like I was completely accepted.

Cheri introduced me to the beautiful simplicity of meditation. Before then, as a writer, I would sometimes find it difficult to turn my mind off. Essentially, meditation is the practice of watching the mind.

If you try meditation, you’ll quickly realize how crazy your mind can be. Some call it the “Monkey Mind” because it jumps around like a crazy monkey. The truth is, we’re all a little mentally unstable. When you make meditation part of your daily routine, you’ll learn to let your thoughts drift through your mind like clouds across the sky. This is the beginning of accepting the present moment, a very powerful and fulfilling way to live.

Meditation has dramatically increased my ability to concentrate and focus. It has also helped me manage anxiety, depression and PTSD.

If you are not particularly religious or spiritual, meditation is a phenomenal tool for being more fully human. If you are indeed spiritual or religious, meditation can be an amazing journey to a deeper spiritual life. When I meditate, I feel complete and in the presence of a power far greater than I myself.

MeditationWhen a Good Imagination Goes Bad.

Through a daily practice of meditation, I learned to watch my thoughts. One of the first things I realized from watching my thoughts is that I really freak myself out. Sometimes it was just imagining scary things, but often I would mentally fixate on past hurts or screw-ups. It’s really sick when you think about it because I was actually torturing myself with my own imagination.

Living with Zen Masters.

“I have lived with many Zen Masters, all of them cats.”  Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now.

After meeting Cheri, I discovered other spiritual teachers too, including Eckhart Tolle, Steve Hartman and Tai Sheridan. They all have a more casual approach to meditation. It was Tolle who pointed out that I was actually living with Zen masters. There is much truth to this. Cats have a natural ability to sit quietly in a relaxed and heightened state of awareness, in other words, to be in the moment. That is meditation.

There are countless ways to meditate and many videos online that explain it well. My favorite meditation technique is to close my eyes and watch my breath. Soon the rhythm of my breathing is much like a slight wave rolling onto the beach and hushing out again. Meditation reminds me that I really don’t need much to be happy.

Keeping it Simple.

Depending on where you look or who you ask, meditation can seem like an exercise in futility, because while you’re meditating you aren’t doing anything. That’s the point.

Some teachers would have you believe that meditation takes a lifetime of practice and that you must meditate for an hour a day or longer. That’s really not the case.

For years I took my mediation practice very seriously and would formerly sit crossed-legged on a meditation cushion at the same time each day, sometimes for hours. However, the little feline Zen master I lived with forced me to lighten up when he pissed on my meditation cushion. I got the message. That was a turning point for sure. Now, I meditate without props or ritual. Some purists have described my meditation practice as homemade, half-ass Taoism, but it works for me.

I particularly like to start my day with meditation, but it isn’t formal, not by long shot. I just sit under a tree behind my house and sip tea. In the evening, I’ll close my eyes as I sit on the edge of my bed until my mind is quite.

SIT QUIETLY

This is the most important Zen practice.

It is the classroom for living a wise and kind life.

Sit anywhere and be quiet…

Excerpt from Buddha in Blue Jeans by Tai Sheridan

You Are Not Your Thoughts.

Fresh bamboo leaves over waterPerhaps the most amazing thing I’ve learned from my casual meditation practice is that we are not our thoughts.  We are so much more…

Give a Dog a Bone.

Apparently, our minds are much like my black lab Zack. Zack chews on everything, sticks, rocks, dog bowls, even the plastic bumper of my car. It’s just his nature. Yelling at him doesn’t help. The trick is to give Zack something benign to chew on like a toy made for big dogs. He’s happy then and will carry it around for hours. If he loses it and starts chewing on the car, I just have to find his toy and he’s happy and well-behaved again.

Our minds are a lot like that. We have to give our mind something to fixate on or it will chatter away or fixate on past hurts and imagined fears. Meditation is a way of giving our minds a bone to chew on. When our mind chatters away about the same stuff it chattered about yesterday and last week and last year, Or when it worries about imagined fears or some long ago insult or loss, focus the mind on your breathing.

An Essential Skill.

Meditation is an essential skill for a writer. It’s so simple and so powerful.

When I’m stuck on a writing project, I know if I meditate I usually find the solution to move forward. The science behind this is well founded. The more tense we are, the less creative we will be. Tension and stress trigger the fight or flight respond in our brain. All systems are then geared toward survival, not creativity or problem solving.

Sunset over sea with reflection in waterLikewise, when we let our mind run away we can really freak ourselves out. The truth is, most of our fears are self-generated. With a little meditation, you start to see through that ruse.

A Zen Thing.

Robert M. Persig, the author of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, was an early member of the San Francisco Zen Center and Green Gulch Monastery in Marin County.

I once read that Persig was in nearly constant meditation as he wrote Motorcycle Maintenance. He would meditate until he had insight and then write until depleted and meditate some more.

How to Earn a Darn Good Living as a Writer…

The Secret of Meditation.

It’s important not to try when you are meditating. Meditation is not about achieving anything. It’s about simply existing in your body and the present moment. It’s about being.

Many schools of meditation have accumulated excessive rituals around the practice. If ritual helps you use them, but I find rituals burdensome and complex.

To meditate, all you have to do is sit quietly.

 An Easy Introduction to Meditation.

Here’s a pleasant video that describes a great way to meditate.

Do You Meditate?

If you meditate, I’d love to hear about your experiences. How do you meditate? Does it help your creativity?

Comments

  1. Great Post Gary,
    I have always wanted to get into meditation but can’t ever seem to get the time to. I know that if I did mange to I would be able to let a lot of my stress go and become a better person. I think that it sad that I can’t find 10 ten minutes of quiet throughout my day. It is what it is. Again great post

    • Hi Chad!
      Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment. I encourage you find a moment each day just to sit still. That’s a good way to start. At it’s core, meditation is about learning to be instead of doing all the time. Just be. It really has so many benefits and will change how you see the world.
      All the best…
      Gary

  2. There is a popular video, non-Zen related that has similar methods. I think it is called “The Secret” about the Law of Attaction. Seems we know little about our own minds.

    • Hi Bill!
      Thanks for taking a moment to comment. Yes, I’m familiar with “The Secret.” And I agree, we truly know very little about our mind. However, in reading the Bhagavad-Gita, which was written more than 6,000 years ago, I was astonished at what ancient people did know about the mind and how to best fulfill our human potential. All the best…Gary

  3. Interesting article. Meditation is definitely a great habit to learn! I have learned to meditate throughout the whole day. It really helps me to focus on my tasks. Meditation has helped me be more productive, for example, last night I meditated on an article and that motivated me to get up at dawn and start writing; I am very happy with the way it turned out.

    I will continue the practice.

    -Travis

    • Hi Travis!
      Thanks for stopping by. Meditation has helped me stay focused on my tasks too. In the past, I would lose a large part of my day to emotional states and moodiness. Meditation has taught me that all this comes from inside me and that I have control over my inner state. Isn’t it amazing what our subconscious mind can do when we let? Thanks again for taking the time to comment. All the best…Gary

  4. I LOVE Eckhart Tolle and his #1 book The Power of Now!

    I meditate regularly mainly before but sometimes after I write. This is an awesome post thank you for sharing! 😀

    • Hi Colton!
      Thanks for commenting. Yes, I’m a big fan of Eckhart Tolle and “The Power of Now.” I was introduced to “The Power of Now” about ten years ago when I was going through a horrific divorce. I was struggling with depression and thoughts of ending my life. Through “The Power of Now,” I learned to just focus on the present moment. Oddly, in the present moment there was no pain, no depression and no thoughts of suicide. The present moment is perfect. I know you understand this, but it still amazes me. Thanks again for taking the time to comment. All the best…Gary

  5. Hello Gary, there is indeed power in meditation, especially if you know how to go about it before writing. I really flow with your writing style, it not boring at all. That is to say, you have mastered how to concentrate and connect with people when writing. This is a good one Gary.

  6. I have thought about trying this meditation thing. But what are the real advantages to it.

    • Hi Patrick!
      Thanks for stopping by.

      Meditation has many advantages. It allows you to take control of your thoughts instead of letting your thoughts control you. It reduces stress and blood pressure, and it allows you to act with deeper understanding instead of merely reacting. I think most of all, it helps you understand who you truly are beyond your body and mind. Most people live their entire life without knowing themselves. Meditation is a doorway beyond the conditioning we have all received from our families, culture, media and jobs.

      This rewards do not come immediately, but over time. If you practice sitting quietly and simply focusing on your breath, you will quickly realize how your thoughts run off. You might get bored and think of all the things you should be doing instead of sitting there watching your breath, but if you practice it day after day for a week or two, you begin to see the space between your thoughts grows larger. You will begin to feel that you are so much larger than your body or mind. In time, you might experience profound understanding that goes beyond words.

  7. Taking at least 15 minutes out of your day and meditating is really important and healthy for the body. Hardest part is just finding the time to do it. If you have a hectic schedule at times you can forget about it. Writers must mediate because it allow them to produce great content for books or articles. Thanks for sharing!

    • Hi Tony!

      Thanks for stopping by.

      Yes, sometimes it can be difficult to find the time to meditate. But, when I make it a priority, I find I’m well rewarded with a calmer mind and better decision making. Really what could be a higher priority than peace of mind? Thanks again.

      All the best…
      Gary

  8. Hi Garry, I find your article really helpful. I find many news things especially physical and mental advantages of meditation. I hope it will help me in future especially during writing.

  9. Hi Gary,
    I really enjoyed this post. You reiterated all the known benefits of meditation. I have been trying to get back into a daily routine of it but haven’t quite achieved that yet. This may be the catalyst I needed! Thank you for a well written and informative article. Sheila

    • Hi Sheila!
      Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment. I hope I have helped you get back into a meditation routine. it really does have so many benefits.
      All the best…
      Gary

  10. Hi Gary,
    Great article! I used to try on meditation but couldn’t concentrate. Will keep trying….

    • Hi and thanks for stopping by. It’s important not to try, but just relax and let your thoughts slow down. An easy way to meditate is to simply close your eyes and focus your attention on your hands. When you do this, you will actually feel the life pulsing through them. It’s amazing.

  11. Stephen says:

    Great point on meditation Gary, I work in the fitness industry and we exercise so much and although I know the great benefits of meditation I need to remind myself to do it more often especially when I feel I’m over doing it!

    I read the Power of Now by and it’s a great read but I’ll have to check out Robert M. Persigs stuff as I heard so many great thing but have never read any of it!

    Cheers again for a great read and looking forward to your next one, Stephen.

    • Hi Stephen! Thanks for commenting. You know how important concentration is to physical fitness. A regular meditation practice will greatly enhance physical performance. Persig’s work is fiction but based on deep spiritual truths.

  12. Florence Ki says:

    I am not sure what I have done is considered meditation. What I did was stare at something without knowing I am actually staring. Then my mind went completely blank until something disturbed me. And I feel great after it. Does this considered meditation? I was told that meditation is dangerous if not done properly, is this true?

    • Hi Florence!

      Thanks for your comment. Meditation is really simply allowing the thought process to stop. So, yes, I think you did experience meditation. Honestly, I don’t think meditation can be dangerous. It’s a mental process where thoughts slow down.

  13. FreestyleSnowboarder says:

    Hi Gary,

    I’m an owner of a snowboarding blog and am really into my health and fitness, and looking to get more into my spirituality, too.

    I have been getting writers block and have had trouble focussing on the point of my articles and connecting with my reader.

    I googled this and thankfully ended up here! I watched your youtube vid for simple steps into meditating and at genuinely helped calm me and connect with my readers more, I found myself enjoying my article writing again.

    Thanks so much.

    Best
    Olie

  14. Eric Thompson says:

    Hi Gary.
    I love your page on meditation it cleared up some intellection questions I have about meditation, but I still have a question. What is meant by following my thoughts? What I’m confused about is if I’m watching my thoughts, how do I focus on a specific thing or idea? To me they seems like two different things.

    I would love to hear from you.
    Eric

    • Hi Eric!

      Thanks for stopping by.

      About following your thoughts…Imagine lying in a grassy field and watching the clouds pass by. Let the clouds represent your thoughts. You can choose to either watch a single cloud as it floats across the sky, following it with your mind from one horizon to the next, or you can relax and focus on the blue sky as the clouds drift in and out of your awareness.

      You can do the same thing with your thoughts, but as you might imagine, thoughts are trickier than clouds.

      When meditating, thoughts will drift into your mind. You can chose to focus your awareness on a single thought, or you can focus on something else in order to keep from being pulled into thinking. Other things to focus on might be your breathing or the flame of a candle or, ideally your awareness, the simple feeling of being alive.

      By focusing on something other than your thoughts you begin to see that you are not your thoughts. That’s a life changing insight.

      For me, the most powerful aspect of meditation is that it saves me from getting pulled into my thoughts. Once you become aware that your are not your thoughts, you begin to see how your thoughts will kidnap your awareness and run away with it.

      For example, you might be having a wonderful day, all is well and you’re happy to be alive, then a thought enters your mind about how your were abused in the past. If you chose to let this thought drift from one horizon of your awareness and out the other side like a cloud, it cannot hurt you.

      However, if you do as most people do and follow that thought, you mind with fixate on the abuse from the past and you will relive it again although that is ancient history and your abuser may well be long dead. By fixating on that thought, you have caused yourself pain.

      It’s human nature to follow our thoughts. Fortunately, meditation gives us a tool to free ourselves from them. So, getting back to the analogy of watching the clouds, when we focus on the sky and let the clouds pass by our awareness is free from being dragged away by clouds. When we meditate, even for an instant, our focus is on our breath so we are not dragged away by our thoughts.

      Another way to look at it…our mind is like a dog who needs a bone to chew on. Our mind needs something to focus on. If we neglect to give it something benign to focus on it will attach to our thoughts, usually the most emotionally charged thought that enters our mind. This can cause us pain. So meditation is simply the practice of focusing our mind on something benign, like our breath, the flame of a candle or just a spot on the wall. This lets our thoughts pass through our mind like clouds across the sky.

  15. That was quiet an interesting article about writing and meditation. I never knew the powers of meditation before I read your article. I plan on meditating more because of you. Thank you for that. I have a quick question although, if i was to meditate everyday would that be beneficial or would it be counter productive from trying to achieve more through meditating even when I might not necessarily feel like it.

    • Hi Mark!

      Thanks for stopping by. I thinking making yourself meditate when you didn’t feel like it might be counter-productive. Just sit quietly and let your thoughts slow down.

      All the best…

      Gary

  16. I agree with your points about meditation. The mind is a very wild place at times and quieting it down is very important, especially in the hub-bub of the modern world. In addition to sitting and meditating, I also like to practice “walking meditation.” If your lucky enough to live near a quite park or woods, it can be a vey refreshing experience. Have you heard of it or tried it?

    • Hi Mike!

      Thanks for stopping by and also for bringing up the subject of walking meditation. Yes, I have tried it and still practice on occasion.

      When I lived near San Francisco, I would attend weekend meditation retreats at the Green Gulch Monastery which is associated with the San Francisco Zen Center. Typically we would sit in meditate for 30 minutes to an hour and then get up and practice walking meditation for about 15 minutes, then return to sitting meditation. After a day of that, my mind was amazingly clear.

      For me, one of the most profound results of meditating is that I come to realize how very little I need and that I am enough just as I am.

      All the best…

      Gary

  17. Hi Gary!
    I do not know how to correctly meditate, but have you mentioned a cat. There were such moments when I sit opposite my cat as calm and relaxing. So I meditate? Why I sitting in front of my cat? What I realize that I doing this when bad things have blocked my minds. I try to get rid of them.

    • Hi Andrejas!

      Thanks for sharing your experience. You remind me of a story Eckhart Tolle tells in one of his lectures. He tells of a Zen master who learned to meditate by watching a cat watching a mouse hole. Eckhart Tolle also writes in his book The Power of Now: “I have lived with many Zen masters, all of them cats.”

      All the best…

      Gary

  18. Superfoodfamilies.com says:

    I love being reminded of the virtues of meditation. I had a friend in India who was a healer and he mediated for hours every day on his own. I’ve never had the desire to take it that far as I believe in moderation, but every time that I let myself mediate and let myself enjoy the moment, it is always a wonderful moment for me. It helps me prioritize what is truly important to me and what I truly care about. It actually helps me sleep better too. Thank you for reminding me of the best ways to take care of my mind.

    • Hi!

      Thanks for stopping by. I’m glad my post was a reminder for you. I rarely meditate for long periods of time and I’m in awe of those who do. Usually, I’ll meditate for short periods of time throughout the day. It helps me maintain a healthy perspective and to access my creativity. However, I do lose perspective from time to time, particularly when I’m pushing myself to meet a deadline.

      All the best…

      Gary

  19. Gary,

    I keep hearing about the power of meditation, but I have only tried it a few times. I will have to make a point to try it out before I write. What do you think about waking up in the morning and meditating for 30 mins? Would it be better to meditate in the morning or at night?

    -Aaron

    • Hi Aaron!

      Thanks for stopping by. You ask a good question.

      When it comes to meditation you want to avoid striving or pushing yourself. Meditation is the practice of being. It’s the opposite of trying to reach a goal. This concept might seem strange at first, but in time it becomes very liberating.

      I suggest you simply sit quietly without interruption. Turn you attention to your breathing, just watch your breathing. Watch how your mind wanders and then pull your attention back to your breathing. Keep doing this until you feel restless and then do something else. That’s meditation.

      All the best…

      Gary

  20. Very interesting.

    I have tried meditation techniques in the past and in yoga class, and it is surprisingly difficult. Just to try and empty your mind for more than a minute is a task and a half on its own.

    I will take some of your and Cheri’s advice and try and do it casually, maybe at night before I go to bed – should help with the insomnia hopefully.

    • Hi Michel!

      Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting. Over the years, I’ve found that too much caffeine causes my mind to race and makes meditation difficult. It seems everyone has their own threshold of caffeine tolerance. I quiet my mind throughout the day in mini-meditations and then sit quietly at night as part of my bedtime ritual. It really does help me sleep better and leads to wonderful dreams.

      All the best…

      Gary

  21. Hey Gary,
    This is one of the most simplest article on how to meditate and yet it touches really deep.

    I really struggle with writing and it seems like my mind is running into a thousand different directions at the same time and yet reaches no where.

    I tried meditating for 5 minutes as part of my morning routine and I realized that earlier as was very fast to respond and overly defensive and seemed to have calmed a bit. Even so, I always thought that I was doing it wrong or maybe not a 100% right. You example of the Zen Master (the cat) basically opened a new perspective on how to view meditation and with this information I wish to start meditating again.

    • Hi Josh!

      Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment. I’m pleased you found my post helpful. The trick to meditating is just to give yourself time and space to not think, just be. When starting out, it’s tempting to “try” and meditate and then judging how well you did. That is counter productive. Just be still.

      All the best…

      Gary

  22. Hi Gary

    I never thought about meditation being helpful for writing but after reading this the benefits of mediating are pretty obvious for writing.

    I’ve always known that being tense is no good for a creative flow – so the fact the mediation puts you in a relaxed state, well, enough said.

    I have never mediated for the purposes of relaxing my mind for writing (though I will now!) but I have mediated in the past. I have done so using audio technology to help me to get into a meditative state. I find this a good way to do it. I have trouble sitting still and quiet otherwise!

    • Hi Nate!

      Thanks for stopping by. I like to use audio to meditate and relax too. Sometimes my mind is so active or I’m so stressed that I can’t talk myself down. This is when an audio guided mediation really helps. I appreciate your comment.

      All the best…

      Gary

  23. Norman Tay says:

    Hey Gary, thank you for introducing meditation. I known about the benefits of meditation but it never occurred to me that I should use it for my writing. I can see the rationale here. I think I have the problem of focusing on my writing…too many distraction. I am gonna try this out sees it help with disciplining my mind.

    Thanks Again!
    Norman

    • Hi Norman!

      Thanks for stopping by. I think meditation is the answer to all the craziness of the modern age. It’s a habit well worth the time it takes to practice.

      If you are having trouble concentrating when you write, take a look at my post How to Stay Focused When Writing . In that post, I show some tricks for focusing in a distracting environment.

      All the best…

      Gary

  24. I like that you explain what meditation is and how it can be done. I was a little thrown off about meditation not having to be a religious thing. The way it’s worded seems derogatory toward religious/spiritual people.

    I like your honesty about your personal meditation life and the things you initially thought. I think when we first start meditating it is Monkey Mind. Then once we settle into it we can allow thoughts to come and go freely without being fixated on one thought.

    I appreciate you explaining that meditation does’t have to be ritualistic or done for hours a day. A former professor of mine would meditate while showing us a 15-20 minute video. She would sit in her chair with her eyes closed and focus on her breathing. When the movie was over she would open her eyes and resume class. She said it was a great way to feel refreshed in the middle of the day.

    One more suggestion I would like to give is to add more visuals for your readers. There are a lot of words with little color. Your readers may get bored and stop reading and miss out on all the wonderful information you’re sharing.

    Great site.

    • Hi Rawl!

      I appreciate your comments and suggestions. I didn’t mean to be derogatory towards religious or spiritual people. Thanks for pointing this out. I’ll rewrite that portion.

      My concern is that people who are put off by religion might avoid meditating if they think it is a religion or that people who are devoted to a particular religious tradition will avoid meditating because they might think it is a betrayal of their religion or beliefs.

      As you know, while many religions include meditation, meditation is not a belief or a religion. It’s simply something we humans are capable of doing that enriches our life and clarifies our mind.

      Great suggestions. Thanks so much.

      All the best…

      Gary

  25. I’ve tried meditating on many occasions, but just can’t seem to quite get in the zone. I realise it takes practice, and maybe for me a lot of practice.

    I’m a writer (not just website content), so I found your post very interesting. I think I need to reread it a few times so I can really grasp the idea of truly being able to meditate.

    Some people can do it easily. I’ve always struggled with it, but I’ll get there. Thanks for your insights.

    • Hi Darren!

      Good to see you on my website again. It seems the busier our mind is the harder it is to meditate. It might be helpful not to take it too seriously. Try just focusing on your breath. Watch as your breath enters and leaves your body. When your mind wanders, simply bring your attention back to your breath.

      Watching your breath is really amazing. When we enter the world, we draw our first breath. When we leave the world, we breath out our last breath. It is as if each breath stitches us to this life.

      It took me a long time to learn to quiet my mind. Also, if I’m overly caffeinated, meditating is more difficult.

      All the best…

      Gary

  26. Anh Nguyen says:

    Gary,

    I write and meditate daily so this seems like a post for me.

    It’s a great chance encounter you have there with Cheri, I am happy to hear. For me, it was a tedious process, I was interested in Buddhism since I was 5 – 7, and the idea of overcoming your emotions and obtaining a state of eternal peace and void like the Nirvana. That’s when I started meditation.

    In retrospection, maybe it was hard for a kid to sit still, I have a lot of problems and almost though it was not for me. Then I got older and with the stress of life, I needed to find some peace. I started using an app called Calm and realize a lot of my previous though about mediation were probably the reason I couldn’t do it before.

    Meditation is a state of awareness, you don’t need to deny your thoughts or emotions but being present with them.

    Thanks for sharing!

    • Hi Anh Nguyen!

      Thanks so much for your contribution. Yes, my meeting with Cheri was a true blessing. I was middle-age at the time and ready for a better way.

      All the best…

      Gary

  27. Hi Gary,
    I guess I don’t have that superpower … YET.
    I have taken courses on freelance writing but when i get to writing the content itself, i freeze up. I always blame it on English-is-not-my-first-language alibi. But I know deep inside it is because i fear criticism and havent really developed that confidence in writing. I do have a couple of websites up but writing content is always my problem.
    I will try and meditate more. How do you shut out distractions when meditating? I have very short attention span and my mind always drifts to mundane things, or i switch to day dreaming and then finally give up and reach for my kindle. I shall read more about your site. Thanks and Kudos!
    Ann

    • Hi Ann!

      Thanks for visiting.

      I think a lot of writers are afraid of criticism. It seems to come with the territory and is probably related to an obsession with perfectionism. When my first novel was being edited, it would sometimes take me months to work up the courage to read the editor’s comments.

      When I accepted that the editor was only trying to help me write my best and to create the best experience for the reader, I relaxed into writing and became much more productive, although I still sometimes struggle with my obsession with perfectionism.

      When you have a writing project, it’s important to get something written and then improve on it. It helps if you have someone who can serve as a beta reader and editor and give you feedback.

      With regards to meditation. My girlfriend and I rescue abandoned animals. I live in a house with 19 cats and 9 dogs. There are always distractions. Sometimes it maddening.

      The trick to meditation is to practice it regularly. Distractions come. Thoughts come. Sometimes they will carry you away into a fantasy or worry. That’s natural. When this happens, gently return your awareness to your breath. Over time, the space without thoughts will increase, but even if it doesn’t, meditation is a priceless practice.

      All the best…

      Gary

  28. Hi Gary

    I would love to know how to meditate because my mind is a dancing guerrilla LOL. I cannot stop thinking and I always worry about the past and future.

    I know nothing about meditation and would like to give it a shot. I have anxiety and I also struggle to sleep at night. Thanks for an insightful article.

    • Hi Viljoen!

      All of our minds are dancing gorrillas!

      Learning to quiet our mind takes practice. I’ve been at this a long time and my mind still runs away at times. I still get caught regretting the past and agonizing over the future. It’s part of the human condition, but with practice we can find moments of quiet in our head.

      Make time to practice sitting still and simply watch your thoughts. Pretend they are clouds floating through your awareness.

      I find that too much caffeine and too much chocolate will cause my mind to race and their’s nothing to be done. So, in the beginning it might be helpful to dial back on the stimulates.

      A final trick I like to use when I can’t sleep or if I’m anxious, is to deliberately slow my breath down. It’s uncanny how the speed of our thoughts are directly linked to the speed of our breath. If you want to slow you thoughts down then deliberately slow your breathing. Try it.

      You can slow you thoughts down even more plus ease your fears and anxiety by making the out breath longer than the in breath. It doesn’t take long to feel better. At night, if I can’t sleep, I’ll do this until I nod off.

      Thanks for stopping by.

      All the best…

      Gary

  29. Geleesa says:

    Good read! I used to meditate but lately i’ve been so determined my mind chatter has decided to take a back seat with my help lol meditation does help bring clarity and self awareness which in turn makes writing to and connecting with a group of people much easier. Sometimes anxiety can be the number 1 culprit and meditation gives way to zen out.

    • Hi Geleesa!

      Thanks for taking the time to comment. You mentioned mind chatter, so true. There’s a reason Zen masters call it ‘monkey mind.’ Sometimes I sit in formal meditation, but usually, I’m more more casual about it.

      I’ve been re-reading “The Power of Now” by Tolle. He promotes an organic approach to meditation by gently focusing on the body. It’s a simple method, but it quickly quiets the mind.

      I’m in the process of outlining a novel and laying out the storyboard. Meditation helps me access the creative juices. While I’m working out the details of a story, I’m constantly switching back and forth between a state of meditation and a state of thinking.

      If not for meditation, I would have lost my mind a long time ago. My family thinks I did.

      All the best,

      Gary

  30. Hi.Thank you for your insights on meditation. I too believe meditation is an effective tool to open our consciousness to who we truly are.I have practiced meditation for a couple of years with great results but know that with practice much more can be achieved!
    Do you enjoy guided meditation? If so which ones ?
    Cheers!
    Johnny

    • Hi, Johnny!

      Thanks for stopping by. Meditation has been a tremendous life enhancing tool for me. I think everyone should make it part of their daily schedule.

      I do enjoy guided meditation and have several audio files on my iPad of guided meditation, plus several CDs. It would be impossible to pick a favorite. It often depends what mood I’m in or what challenge I’m facing.

      That said, I’m a big fan of Eckhart Tolle and Steven Hartman. In addition to teaching ancient spiritual truths and the importance of living in the moment, they also have powerful guided meditations. Tolle is famous for his book “The Power of Now.” Steven Hartman is not as well known, but has two CD sets published by Nightingale-Conant, “The Simple Secrets of Inner Peace,” and “The Essence of the Bhagavad-Gita.” Both of these CD sets are powerful and I revisit them often.

      The great thing about guided meditation is if my mind is so busy I can’t quiet it, I can listened to a guided meditation and just follow along. This is always helpful, but it can be a life-saver when my thoughts are stuck in a negative or destructive cycle.

      All the best,

      Gary

  31. Hey Gary:

    I totally agree with you that meditation should be in a writer’s toolkit. Since we build our worlds from our thoughts, it is a good thing to be able to quiet the silly monkey that keeps ooking and screaming in there so you can actually see what you’re thinking and move the pieces around to make a better fit.

    Your post is a lovely introduction to the subject of meditation. Thank you….

    • Hi, Netta!

      Yes, the monkey mind is a real chatter box. Meditation is my most valuable skill. For anyone who lives in their head, it can be a life saver.

      In the beginning, as I learned to meditate more deeply, I was astounded to see how I had been conditioned to think in particular ways that were actually self-destructive. As my meditation practice progressed, I naturally simplified my life. In the process, negative people who complicated my life drifted away and positive people who blessed my life appeared. Living became so much easier and my writing improved substantially.

      Meditation has reminded me of the magic of our existence.

      Every day is not magic, however, and I still lose my Zen from time to time, but with meditation, I know how to get it back.

      Thanks for stopping by,

      Gary

  32. Hey Gary:

    Thanks for the meditation thoughts. It is a truth that if you’re able to quiet your mind some really cool thoughts start bubbling up.

    I personally prefer the moving meditation of ch’i kung. Writing is oftentimes a lot about sitting, sitting, sitting….which has never been my favorite. Breathing, visualizing, doing the dance, and waving your arms around seems to help a lot with that.

    Taking a meandering stroll also works especially if you just work on noticing stuff without the commentary.

    • Hi, Netta!

      Thanks for your wise insights. Yes, writing is all about sitting, yet, by nature, I’m a very active person, so I usually pace a lot when I’m working on a writing project. For someone just starting out, it might take some experimenting to find the right balance of sitting and activity.

      I live in a rural setting and have a well worn path I walk around my property. I’m in the habit of focusing on the here and now as I walk this path. This practice helps to quiet the mental chatter which makes room for some wonderful ideas.

      Thanks for stopping by,

      Gary

  33. I started meditation a while ago, but only recently have I started doing it just about everyday. I meditate by a creek on a hiking trail that I go on. I know that everyone says to focus on your breathing, but to me it seems easier to focus on the sound of the rushing water from the creek. When I meditate I allow my mind to just fill with the sound of the rushing water and relax. When I come out of this type of meditation I usually have answer. Sometimes I am looking for it, sometimes it is unexpected, but I always find that whatever worries or baggage I bring to the creek, I leave happy and knowledgeable in where to go and what to do next. I think meditation is a perfect way to really get to the root of your problems. For me, it opens my mind to thoughts and instances I either 1) would have never thought of before or 2) did think about but was over-taken by so many other thoughts that I didn’t have the time to focus in on the important one that would make me happy or solve my problem.

    • Hi, Hailey!

      I appreciate your comment. You express beautifully how meditation benefits us.

      Eckhart Tolle might describe your meditation practice as natural meditation and that the practice of watching your breath is an attempt to get where you already are. I think he might also say, it doesn’t matter what you call it. My daily meditation practice has morphed into sitting quietly beneath a tree. For me, it feels like I’m connecting to the source of life.

      Ultimately, I think it is about learning to be fully human and authentic.

      Thanks for stopping by,

      Gary

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