Today we’re talking about mindfulness meditation—what it is, how to do, and the 5 reasons that every writer should make it part of their writing life. We’ll start by talking about how I discovered it, explore how to try it if you’re unfamiliar with it, and then learn the powerful ways that it can help you in your writing.
Brad mentioned a few books in today’s podcast:
Why Buddhism is True by Robert Wright
Mindfulness: An 8-week Plan for Finding Peace in a Frantic World by Mark Williams and Danny Penmen
The five reasons mindfulness meditation should be part of your writing life:
- It’s a great cure for procrastination.
- It makes you a master of noticing the kinds of details that breath life into stories.
- By understanding how the mind works, you can create more believable and realistic characters.
- It can help you control negative self-talk that undermines your writing.
- It’ll help you recognize when the “story is writing you” rather than “you writing your story.”
Mindfulness meditation is not a one-and-done experiment. Just like so many things in life, the benefits come from a sustained, consistent focus on it.
Jon Kabat-Zinn is an American professor emeritus of medicine at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. He also wrote the forward forMindfulness: An 8-week Plan for Finding Peace in a Frantic World by Mark Williams and Danny Penmen that we mentioned earlier in the show. He says,
“The best way to capture moments is to pay attention. This is how we cultivate mindfulness. Mindfulness means being awake. It means knowing what you are doing.” ~Jon Kabat-Zinn
And isn’t that what we’re always trying to do as writers? Capture moments? Learning to capture them in our own lives–in vivid and nuanced detail–can only serve to help us do it more effectively in our writing.
If you have a favorite quote about writing, I’d love to share it with the show’s listeners here on the podcast. Go to www.BradReedWrites.com and click the Talk to Us link to find out how. You could even leave us a voice message and hear your voice on a future podcast!
Our challenge this week is to do a sort of modified mindfulness meditation. I’d like you to find a place as similar to a setting for a scene of your current work-in-progress as you and spend some time there. Not writing time, just “noticing” time. Now, this will be easier for some of us than others. If we’re writing a scene in a coffee shop, for example, this is a pretty easy challenge. If you are writing a space opera, on the other hand, it might be harder to find a place that feels like the control room of a massive space cruiser. But could you come close? Could you find a place that at least has some similar elements? Anyway, once you’ve found your place, go there and spend at least ten minutes delving as deeply into the details of the place as you can. Close your eyes for awhile an begin to notice the sounds “behind” the sounds. What is there that you’ve never really noticed before? What rhythms or musical qualities might be there? Notice the smells… all of them. Notice the detail of small smells. When you do open your eyes, try to see the place as though you’ve never been there before. What textures do you notice? What colors? What movement? How do things feel? What is the texture of the seat you are sitting on? How does the floor feel under your feet? How does the air move across your skin? Once you’re done–and not UNTIL you’re done–jot down some notes about what you noticed. You’re sure to find some compelling details that can bring your setting to life in a way that wouldn’t have been there before.