Meditation just involves sitting on the floor, searching for nirvana…doesn’t it?
There are many different types of meditation, depending on what you want to get out of them.
But in this post I’m only going to focus on two, both of which I think can help you improve not only your storytelling, but your approach to life in general. This post is the last post in my 52 Dates for Writers series, inspired by Claire Wingfield’s book of the same name!Guided Meditation
Close your eyes and get comfortable on a chair. Listen to the rhythm of your breathing for a few moments. Feel yourself relax. Now imagine that you’re standing on a dock, a boat bobbing in the water beside you. Climb into the boat, noticing the weather around you. Is it warm or cold? Night or day?
This is an example of a guided meditation. Someone else will lead you on a journey through your imagination, and your mind will fill in the blanks for you when prompted.
How will this help my writing?
Guided meditation can help improve your storytelling in two ways. First, you’ll get used to following mental paths. A good guided meditation includes some kind of journey, and you can use those designed to help with mental road blocks to clamber over writer’s block instead.
Second, you can even try doing a guided meditation as one of your characters. How would you protagonist react to the guide? What would your antagonist think about?
It’s a great way of really getting inside their head.
Mindful meditation, also known as mindfulness, has seen a huge boom in the last few years. There are hundreds of books and apps designed to help you bring mindfulness into your life. There’s even a Mindful magazine (which pours scorn on some of the apps).
It’s general principle is to stop your mind racing, bringing it to the present moment to notice what is going on right now. Not what has happened, or what might happen, what is happening.
It’s pretty much a ‘present tense’ way of thinking.
I took it up some months ago as a means of combating anxiety and the occasional bout of depression, and it certainly brought more zen into my life.
I particularly recommend Calm by Michael Acton Smith. This is an affiliate link but that’s because I love the book! It’s full of excellent ways you can bring mindfulness into your life, and they’re also brilliant as writing prompts.
If that’s not enough, there’s a companion app that I also find really useful.
Claire Wingfield describes mindful meditation as a “method you can use to keep your consciousness scrubbed clean”. Part of it is around making time to meditate. Make time to still your mind, and spend time with yourself. You can make this your writing time!
But are mindfulness and writing even compatible?
I had a discussion with Sarah Brentyn about this. On one hand, it would appear that they aren’t. After all, mindfulness requires you to be “in the moment”, while writing requires your mind to be somewhere totally different.
On the other hand, mindfulness as a practice isn’t really intended to help you work through plot points, or come up with ideas. It’s designed to calm the mental chatter, and ease some of the stress you feel on an everyday basis.
If that isn’t beneficial to harried, frantic writers, then I don’t know what is!
On top of that, being encouraged to stop and pay attention to your surroundings is something writers are often advised to do. Make a point of taking a few minutes out of your day to really look at what’s around you.
You’re not only reconnecting with the present, instead of worrying about the past or future, you’re also spotting hundreds of potential story ideas!
Give meditation a go!
So mindful meditation will help improve your storytelling by helping you de-clutter your mind, and pay closer attention to the world and human interactions around you. It can help you reconnect to your environment, opening you up to new experiences that definitely will help your storytelling.
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