Spiritual practice

Why Writers Should Practice Meditation – And How to Get Started

Meditation is usually associated with relaxation and stress release, but those outcomes are more accurately by-products of the practice.

The true purpose of meditation is to quiet the mind.

When that happens, all kinds of personal benefits ensue, including improved health and resiliancy, greater awareness, and the spiritual awakening that comes from tapping into one’s true nature.

A quiet mind allows you to move beyond thought to the place where we all create, which is the space between our thoughts, and that’s a good place to be if you are a writer.

Releasing Stress and Mental Blocks

The reason we experience stress, writer’s block, and other counter-productive behaviors and conditioned responses, is that we are stuck in our thoughts. The first challenge is recognizing this, and then ceasing to fight it, because any resistance only serves to immobilize you further.

The more you struggle with your thoughts the more you reinforce your physical condition. You are literally squeezing your thought patterns down to a few, thereby dramatically increasing their intensity. This leads to even greater levels of stress, including uncontrollable anger.

Find the Space between Thoughts

Discovering the space between thoughts is something that healthy individuals do on a regular basis. It can happen by taking a walk through nature, or when actively engaged with activities you enjoy, such as writing.

The process of writing is different for everyone. However, for most of us it brings our attention inward, where we reconnect with our true selves, thereby making new discoveries.

To find the space between thoughts you have to first give yourself permission to do so. You have to trust your capabilities for getting there, just as a meditator will trust that the mantra will effectively lead to states of greater awareness.

How to Meditate

Traditional meditation involves the repetition of a mantra – which is a sound. The word mantra roughly translates as “instrument of the mind,” and its use helps to create the desired quieting of the mind.

A breath awareness meditation is a simple and universal approach – one in which the breath serves as the mantra.

Steps for practicing a mindfulness meditation.

While it helps to have a quiet environment, you can meditate on an airplane just well as in the privacy of your home. If possible, it also helps to dim the lights.

Begin by sitting down. Get get comfortable and assume a good posture, either sitting down on the floor or a chair.

Close your eyes and allow your awareness to go to your breathing. Innocently observe your breath as you breathe in and out.

As you observe your breath you may notice it changes – in speed, rhythm, and depth. It may even stop for a moment. Whatever happens, just continue observing it without expectation.

From time to time your attention may drift to a thought in your mind, a sensation in your body, or a noise in the environment. Whenever you notice you are not observing your breath, simply bring your awareness back to your breathing.

Continue this practice for at least 5 minutes, and continue for as long as it is comfortable. Over time you will be able to sustain the practice for the optimum period of 30 minutes.

Keep your eyes closed when you decide to stop, and just remain silent for 30 seconds or so before getting up to allow your mind and body to stabilize.

Slowly open your eyes, bring the lights up, and return to your writing.

Writing is a Process

I recently finished writing my first book: Built-In Social: Essential Social Marketing Practices for Every Small Business. I can say with certainty that I experienced my share of writer’s block, frustration, and even outright anger because I was holding on too tight at times.

Also, having never written a complete book, I had some fears about its accomplishment. What I discovered was writing well is largely a process of remembering, and then extending those ideas further. That was possible by practicing ways to maintain a quiet mind.

Writing is a process, and once you find yours, everything becomes much easier. Then its just a matter of doing the work.

The same holds true for for just about any endeavor, including social marketing.

In fact, the promise of Built-In Social is a reliable process that takes the stress and anxiety out of using social marketing well – including, and especially, writing valuable content that attracts business leads.

Are you and your business ready to write?

via Why Writers Should Practice Meditation – And How to Get Started | Business 2 Community.

 

How meditation makes us much nicer people – The Ecologist

New research proves that a spiritual practice, such as meditation, leads to a kinder world. Hazel Sillver explores a number of different types of meditation. Mindfulness increases creativity and reduces stress, depression and loneliness

It is well established that meditation reduces stress and improves concentration, but now researchers have found it affects the way we vote.Last month February 2013 scientists at the University of Toronto published the results of studies that compared the political views of ‘religious’ and ‘spiritual’ Americans. Religiousness was defined as ‘devotion to a set of principles or code of conduct’, while the spirituality was termed as ‘a direct experience of self-transcendence and the feeling that we’re all connected.’ First it was found that religious types tend to be conservative and fond of tradition, while spiritual people are more liberal and regard equality and social harmony as important. Then, after inducing a spiritual experience, via guided meditation, the researchers discovered that both groups conservatives and liberals became a lot more liberal in their outlook, expressing inclusive and egalitarian views.

Meditation comes in all shapes and sizes. If you fancy giving it a go, here are four of the most common types practised in the UK:

Metta

Metta also known as Metta bhavana and ‘Compassion meditation’ is the practice of cultivating of loving-kindness. It involves sending love from the heart to four people: first to yourself, then someone you love, a neutral person such as a stranger and, finally, somebody you find very difficult. After this, you flood your heart with love and send it out to all beings. A monk practising Metta meditation during neurological research in the US produced the happiest brain waves ever recorded.

Mindfulness

Now recommended by the NHS, mindfulness involves observing the inflow and outflow of the breath, in order to still the mind. Thoughts are observed like clouds passing overhead, but not entered into. Over time an ability to exist in the present moment develops, so we are less likely to be swept into thoughts of the past and the future. Research shows that Mindfulness increases creativity and reduces stress, depression and loneliness. The various mindfulness books by Thich Nhat Hanh are highly recommended.

Chanting

Arguably the easiest form of meditation, the repetition of a sacred word or ‘mantra’ stills the mind by giving it something to focus on. Meditators use a simple word such as ‘peace’ or lengthy mantras, such as the Buddhist ‘Om tare, Tuttare, Ture, Soha’, which is said to bring healing. Many people move their fingers over a bead necklace such as a mala or rosary as they chant, to aid focus. Research shows that mantra meditation can reduce the risk of heart disease and strokes.

Visualisation

Visualisation involves selecting thoughts that are beneficial, in order to reduce negative thinking patterns. This was the practice used by researchers at the University of Toronto who were investigating how spirituality might affect political views. Participants were asked to imagine themselves in a natural setting and then encouraged to cultivate a feeling of being connected to their environment. Another common visualisation practice is imagining yourself fit and well, if you are ill.

All the meditations above are best performed straight backed with a relaxed jaw and neck, to allow free breathing. Sit cross-legged on the floor or upon a cushion, or sit on a firm chair with feet flat on the floor. Either shut the eyes or let the gaze rest downwards to the floor in front of you. Hazel Sillver is a freelance journalist and a contributor to the Ecologist Green Living section; email: hazel@theecologist.org

via How meditation makes us much nicer people – The Ecologist.