Writer’s block can happen to the best of writers, and meditation can be a powerful panacea.
BY DESIMA BEUKES
You know the feeling – the words just won’t come and your article deadline is looming. The more you stress about your writer’s block, the worse it gets.
Scientists have discovered that meditation can be a powerful way of minimising writers’ block. Not only can meditation lessen the panic from staring at those blank pages; it also leads to mindfulness and restored creativity.
The word ‘meditation’ probably conjures up an image of monks dressed in ochre yellow robes, sitting cross-legged and chanting “om”. But the Buddhist tradition of meditation, while worth pursuing, is not the only form around.
Any activity that calms you down and turn your awareness inward, will do.
Excessive stress can cause writer’s block
Some stress, or healthy tension as scientists describe it, is good because it enhances performance.
Excessive stress, on the other hand, obstructs thinking – and there is scientific evidence for this.
Dr Virginia Cleland studied the effects of stress on nurses at an American hospital many years ago. She wrote that too much pressure “represents the difference between thinking based upon an IQ score of 115 and that based upon an IQ of 85”.
Not much help when you are frantically trying to unblock your writer’s block!
Why meditation helps your writing process
When you meditate, you consciously slow down your breathing and empty your mind. The aim is to clear your thoughts of all the back-chat that is going on, such as: “So, you think you’re a writer. What a joke. Ha-ha. You’re a fraud.”
Meditation helps you to focus. It awakens your inner consciousness and helps you to be mindful and in the moment.
It helps you recognise your writer’s block for what it is – a temporary setback – and before you know the words start flowing.
An example of “traditional” meditation
Perhaps you’d like to try meditation as it is more commonly understood. A good place to start is The Meditation Podcast at www.themeditationpodcast.com.
A basic meditation takes about 25 minutes, and an added benefit is that it uses binaural beats to induce relaxation.
You come out of the meditation feeling refreshed, refuelled and aware.
“Alternative” meditation forms
A great trick is to do something repetitive, like knitting or simply washing the dishes. If all else fails, grab your kids’ crayons and colour a mandala.
The Internet abounds with sites where you can download and print mandalas in an instant. Try www.printmandala.com or, if you prefer the old-fashioned way, buy Tiddy Rowan’s book Colour Yourself Calm at your local bookstore.
If visual meditation is not your thing, listen to drum music.
You can even get on your feet and dance a few steps!
On YouTube or iTunes you can choose anything from African to Japanese drum music.
Meditation works for writers
You will have creative insights, whatever the form of meditation that you choose.
The simple act of taking your mind off the immediate problem solves the problem!
Writer’s block? What writer’s block?
About the Author
Desima Beukes chose lifestyle over the rat race. She lives in Cape Town and the Northern Cape village of Nieuwoudtville, where she shares her life with one partner, one son, two poodles, two horses and 57 chickens (at last count).
Photo credit: Flickr.com_Sebastien Wiertz