Breathe, Meditate, Write

Mandala image copyright shooarts, 2013. Used under license from

Image copyright shooarts, 2013. Used under license from

Being present when we write can open us to our creative centers, draw us into the eternal moment—that experience of total absorption when time does not seem to exist. One way to practice presence is simply to focus on breath. Breathing is one of the simplest, smallest expressions we make. It’s the creative, life-giving activity we are always engaged in and rarely notice.

Doing a short breath meditation is a good way to begin a writing session, to warm up to writing, and to be present with yourself. You might find meditation especially helpful during times when you feel racy and need to slow down, or when your head is doing all the talking and you want to get closer to your feelings. Breath meditation can help you center your awareness in your body and open you to a more relaxed, compassionate, and authentic way to write.

If you’ve never sat in meditation before, you may find it challenging to do so for even a few minutes. That’s okay. After a little practice you’ll get more comfortable with meditation.

At first you may find that your mind won’t stop chattering. Aches and pains and itches may cry out for sympathy or attention. Small noises may be annoying. Don’t lose heart. If you stick with the practice and gradually sit for longer periods of time, you’ll probably notice that your mind gets quieter and more relaxed as you meditate. Just remember that meditation is not about turning off thoughts or feelings, but about being aware of whatever is going on as you focus your attention on your breath.

There is no right or wrong way to meditate. You’re not out to achieve something. You just want to stay present with whatever you’re experiencing. Whatever happens is fine. Try this:

Find a quiet place where you won’t be interrupted. Sit in a comfortable position, with your feet on the floor so that you can feel your connection to the earth, and with your back straight so that your breath moves more freely through you. Let your eyes close and pay attention to your breath. Notice where you feel it in your body. Notice whether it is shallow or deep, loose or tight. Notice how it changes. Sit and breathe and pay attention to your breath for a few minutes. If your mind starts to wander, gently bring your attention back to your breath.

When you finish your meditation, slowly open your eyes and write for a few minutes.

Write about your experience with meditation. What happened as you sat and breathed?

Write about what’s going on for you right now, about what you’re aware of in the present moment. Put down everything that’s on your mind—all the things that concern or distract you and the feelings you’re experiencing or anything you you want to write.

Notice how your feelings and your approach to writing change as you allow yourself to acknowledge and express your present condition.

How has this practice worked for you?