How Writers Can Use Meditation to Build Focus and Productivity “he prefrontal cortex is the part of your brain right behind your forehead — the area you smack when you do something silly. As it turns out, there may be a good reason for this: the prefrontal cortex controls executive function, otherwise known as the power to connect your actions with their future consequences. That includes resisting temptation and working toward a previously-defined goal — like finishing that first draft.In short, the prefrontal cortex makes sure you’re doing the right thing, even when the right thing is hard to do. How does meditation fit into all this? Here’s the thing: meditation actually increases the gray matter in your prefrontal cortex. That’s right, meditation will strengthen your self-control, just like regular exercise will strengthen your heart.”
I’m one of the people who would say they are bad at meditation. Although I have never used it for creativity per sa. I have been trying it for chronic pain. And it is one of the long list of things you try for chronic pain that might work but doesn’t seem to work but could possibly work if you combine it with many other things. Just the way it is. In fact the first time I tried it I was in my early twenties. I sucked at it then. Also had little patience. I now attempt to keep on trying simply to keep on trying. Just to say I did. Just to have an impressively long list of things I do for chronic pain that rather suck. However, that is just how complicated that problem is. I like to imagine tackling creativity will be an easier problem if I need a boost. If I get writers block there are any number of things I can try. Like try to sleep. Just as I am about to drift off, right when I am about to fall asleep, on the cusp as it were… Bam… inspiration. Problem solved. Not quite the cure for insomnia I’m afraid.
The first is the breathing exercise. Inhale the good shit. Exhale the bullshit. I found the deep breathing to be a bit of a pain really. That is to say when I had a migraine taking a deep breath in was literally a pain. Therefore, not entirely relaxing. I had to do a more shallow breathing version. And it is relaxing. My thoughts always tend to drift but I get them back on track to the breathing thing. I am told to do this when not actually in pain. Finding the time in the day when not actually in pain is the key apparently. I am not in pain… and the moment is gone sort of deal. I find writing to be far more relaxing while in pain than anything. So there is that. Either way, just try sitting there and breathing for twenty minutes. Just try. And find how many thoughts pop into your head. It will happen. Weird thoughts. The thoughts that pop into your head when you are trying to sleep really. Hell, that might help with creativity right there because that is what happens when I try to sleep. Massive amount of creative thoughts. Maybe this is something insomniacs can relate to.
The idea of meditation though is to gently not think.
To focus back on the breathing.
And then apparently randomly start thinking if you go to the edge of the universe what is beyond that? Another universe maybe?
No. Just breath.
What was before the Big Bang? I mean nothing begets nothing. There had to be some fundamental constituents to reality in order to create the framework.
Breath damn it!
Did I leave the stove on? Yes, yes I did.
I have a little better luck with the visualization forms of meditation. You sort of walk through a scenario and since you are visualizing my mind is less likely to drift into an entirely different area. However, you do begin to imagine and create. Paint a picture rather than focus on what you are supposed to be thinking about. Like calming your mind. Or relaxing your muscles. Or whatever. Often I have these tapes I listen to that have been given to me that interfere with the images I begin to develop. Like they say imagine a staircase but they do not specify outside or inside. And I imagine this elaborate staircase for inside and then the next sentence suggests it is outside and then my brain erases the image and has to create this new one… all the while I am supposed to be relaxing as I am descending the staircase. Sometimes I imagine something at the bottom and the voice says no there is a lake with a pier. Fine. Lake. Pier. Then they always say to imagine your perfect place to go to and I have only a couple to choose from. One is this massive library. As soon as I imagine it I begin to imagine the details of it. What sort of things would I find in this library? Would it be two stories high with a balcony? A domed ceiling with a mural on it? What sort furniture would it have in it? Anyway, I get a little sidetracked by filling out the details of the room and less on what I am supposed to be thinking about while in there. Like… letting my worries go or whatnot. So I don’t know if that is effective but it is a distraction for my brain anyway.
It is this aspect that I find makes me unable to be hypnotized. I had tried that as well. And I found it exactly the same as the visual meditation. As in, exactly the same. Someone guiding you through visualizing scenarios. Then they get to this point where they want you to go Deeper and I think ‘I think this is supposed to be where I am going to be hypnotized’. It is usually the whole staircase thing again with the key word deeper in there but have no idea how that is supposed to actually do anything. I sort of felt amused by it actually. Even though I follow the directions I feel no change. I was intrigued because I kept waiting for something to happen. Curious to know if I would just blank out or feel some sort of altered consciousnesses. Sort of disappointing to be honest. And then I am supposed to visualize that perfect place again, which I do, and once again I go to my library and start designing it to the point of temporarily forgetting what I am supposed to be doing. Because in fact, the whole process is rather boring. I got back on track and followed along with the rest of it. Focused and everything. Seemed to be a lot of positive reinforcement. And I suppose had that been implanted to my subconscious it would have been a good thing. But I was alert and rather uncomfortable at that point. I can only sit in one position for so long comfortably… so I was discretely tensing some muscles and shifting around. All in all it reminded me a great deal of regular meditation. Slightly boring, got a little sidetracked in there and got a bit uncomfortable physically but overall it is in general relaxing. In the end, no, I did not quit smoking, which had been the plan in that case. It was worth a go. That is directly telling my subconscious to stop being a moron. Apparently only a fraction of the population can be easily hypnotized. Others are more difficult. Either I am difficult or cannot be. Since the concept both intrigues me and freaks me out at the same time I suspect that might be why. I slightly over think things while listening and then I am also a little freaked out that someone else would be in control while I am not.
They key work to meditation for me is relaxing. I have seen no actual benefit to it but there might be some. Just not one I can perceive. I have read a great many studies on it so I know that it has the potential anyway. However, it doesn’t seem to have any direct affect on chronic pain. Perhaps an affect on coping with chronic pain, which really is a benefit in the long run. There are a lot of benefits to the practice. It is just quite hard to get into the routine of it to be honest. They are not benefits that can be seen as far as I can tell.
But you never know maybe getting your meditation on helps with creativity. I had heard a long time ago there was a form of mediation where you just let your thoughts go. Whatever came to you. That would seem to be a more effective form. But being as my memory is what it is I doubt that is a real valid source. I bet that is what you would call brain storming really. Let’s just breath and brain storm and see how that goes.
2 thoughts on “Meditate that”
Thanks for sharing our post on how meditation can help writers!
TWL Assistant Editor
The idea it could help with my creativity did intrigue me for sure even though I have been attempting the practice for other benefits. 🙂