Willpower, discipline, and hard work may squeeze your blog post out. But if you want to produce words and ideas with ease, if you want to revel in the joy that makes it all worthwhile, and if you want to be as good as you can be, you need to know how to nurture inspiration, detach from daily distress, and cultivate creative mind states.
For all of this, meditation is the best tool in your pack.
What is meditation?
A meditation is a moment—long or short—when the thought traffic that normally marches through our minds slows or ceases. To meditate, in the sense that most people interpret the word, is to deliberately focus attention in a way that makes this happen. We minimize surface thought to help our mind slip into stillness.
Meditation does not, as some people seem to think, make you withdrawn or oblivious. On the contrary, it fosters a deep awareness of what is being created in any given moment.
It moves us from being caught in surface thoughts and life circumstances towards the condition that Buddhists call Big Mind—an alert, relaxed, creative, present-centered awareness. This ancient understanding of how the human mind works is now being understood in a new way, and validated, by contemporary science.
Meditation offers enormous benefits for everyone—and particular benefits for those who are engaged in a creative activity like blogging.
1. Meditation opens creative space
Neuroscience is showing, through brain mapping, how meditation affects brain wave activity. The most striking difference is a shift, in the meditator, from the stress-prone right frontal cortex to the calmer left frontal cortex.
Regular meditation also shows increased brain activity in areas associated with the creative and the mystical.
This is the shift that Albert Einstein described as “the most beautiful emotion we can experience…the [underlying] power of all true art and science.” What it means for the blogger is experiencing more ideas, insights, and connections—the currencies in which we trade.
2. Creates conditions for insight
Insight, perception, revelation: these are the qualities that mark out the good blogger from the mediocre, the great blogger from the good. Meditation creates the mental and emotional conditions in which they are most likely to flourish. For centuries, it was thought that such qualities were the innate gifts of a special elite—born not made. Now brain mapping shows them to be available to all who meditate.
3. Meditation eases blogger’s block
It’s not easy putting yourself out there, day after day, post after post. It can make us edgy—vulnerable, raw, a little crazy sometimes. Brain scans show that meditation reduces activity in the amygdala, where the brain processes fear. It blunts our edginess, creating a place of safety from which we can take risks. It allows us to become, as Flaubert suggested we should, steady and well-ordered in life, so we can be fierce and original in our blog.
4. Meditation gives us roots
With that steadiness comes what Buddhists call “solidity,” a calm acceptance of self (see also #5), and a centered belief in what we have to offer.
5. Meditation quietens the critics
This steady solidity makes us very much less vulnerable to critics and to the pressures and persuasions of others. And it also muzzles the meanest critic of ‘em all: the great fault-finder within.
6. Meditation claims the essential self
“Be yourself,” Oscar Wilde once said. “Everyone else is taken.” But it’s not always easy, especially if you’re trying to do it in print. Consciously quieting the chatter of our surface mind helps us to claim, and express, our unique self—the indefinable essence that makes us different from anyone else who ever lived.
Also, by detaching us from our surface, chattering mind and the sticky grasp of personalized emotion, meditation allows us creative distance to observe ourselves, others, and life itself with clarity. This makes our blogs more original and compelling.
7. Meditation improves attention and concentration
Essentially, meditation is focus. Practicing it daily helps us to have it and to be able to draw on it when needed—an essential when negotiating the distracted and distracting online world.
8. Meditation makes us mindful
Blogging is a never-ending game. As soon as we finish one post, we’re thinking of the next. Regular meditation develops our ability to appreciate what we’re achieving and getting right, as well as what still has to be done. To enjoy what we are making in the moment of its making. To value process as much as product.
9. Meditation fosters flow
For bloggers, flow is that delectable condition where words seem to appear of their own volition, where all we have to do is turn up at the page and dictate ‘em. Analyzed in depth by creativity theorist Mihály Csíkszentmihályi and others, flow has been found to induce similar brain states as meditation.
10. Meditation makes us happy
The transformations induced by meditation and creative activity decrease stress, early depression, and anxiety. This brings about a long list of proven physical and emotional benefits, from eliminating insomnia to easing addiction.
Against this long list (which grows longer as each tranche of research turns up new benefits) bloggers regularly cite one problem. They’d love to meditate but they “can’t”: they don’t have time. For all the reasons outlined above, it’s clear that for bloggers, meditation doesn’t take time, it makes time.
What’s your experience? Have you ever meditated for creative benefit? What happened? Would you like to try? What’s stopping you?