We live in busy times – and the To Do list for authors is never-ending.
So how do you cope with achieving all you want to as a writer, as well as living a full life and enjoying your family and friends, without feeling overwhelmed?
It's all about perspective and that's something meditation can help you with. It's certainly something I have found useful as part of my yoga practice. In today's article, Ange de Lumiere shares how meditation can help you as an author.
I have been a long-term meditator, but I never clicked together how my meditation practice served my writing practice until ten years ago.
It took me going through a ten-year writer’s block, then training as a clinical hypnotherapist to get it. I did not train as a clinical hypnotherapist to unblock myself. It was just one of those wonderful unexpected side effects. It helped me to understand how the mind works.
Until we understand how our minds work, we are slaves to our thoughts. Meditation is one of the paths that can help us become aware of what is going on in our heads. Writers spend a lot of time in their heads and maybe that is the reason why, they have more risks of getting stuck in there.
So what are the five ways in which I believe meditation can help authors.
1. Meditation helps you become aware of your thoughts
It might seem insignificant but until we become aware of the constant stream of thoughts that populate our minds, we tend to believe everything we think.
Only by doing a regular meditating practice can we become aware of this constant stream of thinking and detach ourselves from the content of our thoughts.
I like to compare it to clouds in the sky. If each thought is a cloud and the sky is full of clouds, then it is easy to forget that there is a blue sky behind all those clouds. We need a reminder that the clouds are not actually the sky. They only pass through.
2. Meditation helps you train your ego
This is a vital part of meditation. As authors, we can only improve our skills if we are open to constructive criticism. If our ego is wounded, and a lot of authors have wounded egos, then the smallest criticism about our work can send us into a spin.
This is what is holding a lot of writers from publishing their books, sometimes even from getting started in the first place. “What if my mother does not like it?” “What if my first-grade teacher ridicules it?”
Ego does not only come out as an aggressive overconfident energy. It often manifests as doubt and fear. By observing our fears and not getting sucked into the drama, we slowly put the ego back into its place.
By doing so, we open the door to improving our work by plucking the courage to write and then when the work is done, to submit it to an editor or a friend and get the feedback that we need.
The more we meditate, the easier this process will be, as the ego will lose its strong grip on our lives.
3. Meditation helps you access creative energy
Hypnotherapy teaches us that creativity happens when we reach a state of trance. Trance is not the scary thing that a hypnotist does to a volunteer on a stage where he makes someone act like a chicken to make an audience laugh.
Trance is something very natural that happens every day in our lives. It is an act of relaxed focus that we step in whenever we perform a repetitive activity such as driving, washing the dishes or having a shower.
Creativity does not happen so easily when we sit at our desk and force ourselves to write, unless of course, we have practiced trance and meditation at other times in our day and we consciously tap into that energy to do our writing. That is what is called getting in the zone.
The more you meditate, the easier it is to get into the zone. And the wonderful consequence of that is that your writing becomes easier and easier.
4. Meditation helps you build discipline
When talking about meditation, a lot of people imagine sitting in a silent room with candles and incense, sat in the lotus position for hours. Sadly, this puts us Westerners off as we brush off the idea as not only being impractical but also impossible to fit into our daily lives.
For someone who has not only practiced meditation in groups but also taught it, I need to debunk this myth right away. Building a meditation practice is best started in five-minute chunks every day, rather than in a weekend retreat once a year.
It is the discipline of meditating, and here we can make the parallel with the discipline of writing, that enables us to get results. And if you think of meditation as five minutes to clear your mind before you write, it becomes a lot easier to integrate into your writing routine.
Routine is the highway to becoming a professional, published author. Discipline does not sound sexy. Waiting for the Muse sounds way more romantic, but it does not get the job done.
5. It helps you tap into a bigger consciousness
We do not write our books alone. Whether we are open to the idea or not, we get our ideas from somewhere outside ourselves. This is not a new idea. Jung entertained the idea of a collective consciousness nearly a century ago.
I love how Elizabeth Gilbert has given it a modern flavor in her book Big Magic. In it, she writes about a novel that she neglected as life took over. And after two years, she finally acknowledged that it was time to let it go.
She no longer felt connected to the energy of her book. By a series of circumstances, a novel with almost the exact same plot was written and published by another author she admired after Elizabeth met her in person and “handed over” the book to her, unknowingly.
I love that story and the reason I love it so much is that it confirms my own experience. Many authors write the “wrong” book because they write the book they think they should write as opposed to the book that wants to be written through them.
By connecting to the energy of the book that is ready to be born into this world, you can make the whole book journey that much easier because you are not working alone. You are working in sync with your book. And this was the catalyst for me to create my meditation box set.
If you are a habitual meditator, you can do that by imagining going on a date with it to a park or a café and starting a conversation. Why not go to Paris, in Montparnasse? Take a notebook and write down what your book says to you.
What genre does it want to be written in? What structure? Who is its main character? If you need a little help, one of the meditations in my box set can help you do just that.
These are the five ways in which meditation can enhance our writing practice. It has helped me tremendously and my wish is that your practice will be enhanced by it too.
Do you have a meditation practice? Please leave your thoughts below and join the conversation.
Ange de Lumiere is a transformational book coach, mentor and strategist. She writes a weekly blog on her website ICanHelpYouWrite.com. She is the author of two published books, the Journey of the Slim Soul and My Father Who Art In Heaven.
You can find her on Facebook, and on YouTube as AngedeLum.