I don’t like meditation. I wouldn’t go as far as to say I hate it but I know I don’t like it. And before you start with well-meaning suggestions and tips, I need to say that I have tried the apps, the guided meditations, the “sit in silence somewhere” basics, and everything in between. The actual act of meditation? I get antsy, I tune out the voice, and my thoughts wander despite all the efforts to curb them. Meditation the act is just not for me and it’s not for everyone
Instead, I find certain actions and rhythms meditative. The feeling that people describe when they talk about meditation is what I get when I’m an hour into a yoga class, gardening outside and listening to music, and writing all my thoughts down without stopping. The few minutes of making coffee in the morning put me in a meditative state.
Flow is hard to come by. In case you’re unfamiliar, creative flow is a state of mind where you are able to immerse yourself completely in an activity and shut out all outside distractions. If you’ve ever gone deep into research or shaken yourself out of focusing on a creative activity, that’s creative flow. It’s rare for me to get into the flow state but every time it happens, I make a note of what I was doing so I can try and replicate it again.
“Are you really a writer if you haven’t written anything recently?” asks my inner critic. There’s work writing and then there’s creative writing. Personal essays like this one can be difficult to come by for me. I sometimes need a kickstart or a limit (like today’s issue deadline) to force the words out of my head. I am not in a creative flow while I’m writing this and that’s okay.
Back when I was trying to get into running, one of the tips that worked for me was to make it as easy as possible beforehand to actually run. If I ran in the morning, it meant that I had my socks and shoes ready and my running clothes laid out. Eliminating that initial hurdle helped me get out the door.
I use the same approach with things like writing. NaNoWriMo
is about writing an entire novel in one month. Fifty-thousand words in 30 days. Here, you don’t have the time to self-edit, you need to get the words out, however they come out. One of the best strategies I learned was to just start writing. That means opening up a document and literally typing out whatever comes into my head. It might just be thoughts like, “This is ridiculous, I am not writing anything, what am I going to write about,” but getting those cobwebs out of the way eventually leads me to what I wanted to write about in the first place.
Sometimes, getting through that first blocker gets me into a creative flow. Other times, I’m staring at the screen and questioning every other word. The writing takes a while but it eventually gets done. I have found that the more I write things that are challenging to me, like personal essays, the more I start to think about ideas to write about.
Mindfulness has become something that companies capitalize on. Superfoods, meditation apps, and products of all types claim to help in your quest for mindfulness. I wish that lighting a candle can put me in a flow state but I know it won’t. I guess I’ll just keep on chasing that flow with what I already have on hand.