Do you find yourself having writing days where the last thing you can think of is the next word on your page? You are distracted by the cars driving by in your window, the email on your phone, or the dog barking in the background. Distractions are everywhere; however, they do not have to control you. Mindfulness is the ability to be present where you are and fully engaged in what you are doing. Meditation and mindfulness are skills that writers will benefit from mastering. With a few minutes each day, these skills will help you manage distractions and have you leave a writing session feeling accomplished.
What Is Mindfulness and Why Is It Important?
Mindfulness allows us to be fully present, aware of ourselves and our surroundings, and enjoy the beauty of life. Practicing mindfulness outside of your writing will help you to be a stronger writer. When you can be fully aware of yourself, your thoughts, and your environment, your writing transforms into a deeper and more emotional connection. Life in the modern world causes heightened emotions, stress, and anxiety. If writing is a part-time enjoyment for you, worry and emotions from your life may bleed into the writing on your pages. There are a number of ways mindfulness can benefit you and your writing; consider the following benefits, and see how you could implement more mindfulness into your life.
Benefits of Mindfulness
Increase Focus and Concentration
Mindfulness intentionally involves being fully present at the moment. The more you practice, the more you build a tolerance for resisting distractions. As your mind becomes familiar with sitting in the present moment, it allows you to increase your focus and concentration on the immediate task at hand. When you practice mindfulness, you are training your brain to calm down. You are training your brain to concentrate on what is happening in front of you, and connecting your mind and body to the present moment. When you are writing, it is beneficial to be immersed in your creative thoughts, free from the distractions of the outside world. When you can increase your focus and concentration in the present moment, your writing becomes more efficient, authentic, and deep.
Reduce Stress and Anxiety
When you are able to focus on the present moment, you are less likely to worry about previous or upcoming life stressors. As a writer, it is important for you to focus on your creativity, making the pages come to life. When there is an abundance of stress looming over us, there is an increased risk of writer’s block. Mindfulness combats stress and anxiety by reducing the stress response, making you less reactive and fearful.
Mindfulness has the ability to reduce reactiveness and fear of judgment. When it comes to writing, being able to write what flows through your thoughts, without fear of judgment from your readers, allows you to be more creative. When you are more mindful, you are less likely to experience writer's block which allows your train of thought to flow onto the page. The best authors and creators in the world are the ones who stay true to their authentic selves. When you practice mindfulness, you are more equipped to refrain from worrying about what others think and unlock your creative potential.
Tools to Practice Mindfulness
We have discussed a number of ways that mindfulness is beneficial for writers, but where do we go from here? If you have never practiced mindfulness before, you may be confused about where to begin. There are a handful of ways to develop a habit of mindfulness, so below are a few tools to try out.
It can be difficult for some to practice mindfulness by setting a timer on their phone and meditating for 15 minutes. The thought of sitting in silence for more than a minute is daunting to some. Utilizing breathing techniques may be helpful when doing a mindfulness meditation because it gives your brain a small thing to think about in the present moment.
4-7-8 Breathing Technique
When you begin meditating, sit on the floor with your back in an upright position. Place your hands where comfortable and use a pillow or a blanket for extra support. The 4-7-8 breathing technique has you breathe in for 4 seconds, hold the breath for 7 seconds, and breathe out for 8 seconds. Repeat this process however many times in the meditation session that makes sense to you. Not only does this technique help you to remain in the present moment, but it also calms your nervous system.
Second Breath Technique
Another technique is the second breath technique. This technique is very simple. Set up in your ideal meditation position, close your eyes, and begin when ready. Take a normal breath in, immediately take another breath at the top to fill the rest of your lungs, hold the breath for 2 seconds, then release slowly. This technique helps you focus your mind on your breath and reduces the CO2 levels in the body and slows your heart rate. This breathing technique produces an immediate calming effect, so it can be beneficial to do when you need a reset during the day, or during a writing session.
Practicing mindfulness can be a difficult feat on your own, especially if the practice is new to you. There are a handful of resources and guides available to assist you in your mindfulness and meditation practice. Two popular apps that include guided meditations, guided visualizations, and guided breathing meditations are Headspace and Calm. These are subscription-based models with a few free features to test out. These apps can help get you started to learn about mindfulness and teach you how to implement more of it into your day.
Developing a mindfulness habit will benefit you as a human and as a writer in the long run. It may be difficult to jump into a mindfulness meditation habit right out of the gate. If you would benefit from more habit-building content to assist you on your mindfulness meditation journey, check out the Habitizied Life on Instagram to learn more about habit formation.