Written by Tom Evans
I started meditating in my mid-40s after someone told me I looked stressed out and haggard. I’d just left a company where I had been worked to the bone. My initial reaction was that I was far too busy to waste 10 or so minutes a day and that I would never be able to make my overactive mind go blank.
Anyhow, I found a teacher, as there were no apps in those days, and I persisted and ended up being pleasantly surprised. After just a few weeks of daily practice with some simple breathing and visualisation techniques, I felt the layers of stress slip away. Something else happened though that piqued my interest as an engineer.
On days that I meditated, I seemed to get more done and my days went more smoothly. If I missed a day then I often felt I was pushing water uphill. The inquisitive engineer started to research the neuroscience and meta-science around the meditative state.
Roll on 17 years to now and I have published 17 books and become an internationally recognised meditation guide, all without stepping inside an ashram. My meditations can be listened to for free and have already been listened to over 4 million times. They follow the same theme, exploring how meditation can be used to help us have better days by helping us create a life of ease. As a prolific author myself, let me share with you five ways us writers can use meditation to make our task much easier.
1. Get more written in less time
The normal human brain is only capable of having one thought at a time. So think about what you are thinking about right now and you will see what I mean. If you are sitting down to write and start to wonder about what readers will think, or if your mind is drawn back to a conversation that went badly yesterday, then your efficiency drops as your attention wanders.
One of the first things you learn when you start meditating is how to quieten the inner chatter of your so-called ‘monkey mind’. After just a week or so of regular practice, for just 10 minutes investment of time a day, you will find you become able to gain control over your thoughts. If an unwanted one pops in when you are writing, you then simply ask it to go away and come back later when you’re aren’t so busy.
It is amazing how creative people can be about avoiding being creative. Excuses come from left, right, centre and behind. Now my second book was all about dealing with writer’s block. I wrote it after helping 100s of authors get over and through their blocks. In every single case, and without exception, there was an underlying life block that merely resurfaced because an author was drawn to write. There are many reasons for this but here’s the three main ways I helped authors banish the bandits of time:
- Thank the block for coming along and actually write about it (even if that doesn’t make it into print)
- Discover a better time to write like evenings rather than mornings or in Spring rather than in Autumn.
- Make appointments for your chapters in your diary, as if you are meeting a client. The chapter then comes to meet you.
Get ideas literally from the top of your head
The other big learning you get from meditation is the realisation that most thoughts aren’t really what we think of as our own. The outer cortex of the brain generates self-talk and gives us the ability to speak out loud. There are other types of thought form referred to as light bulb moments. These were the subject of my third book, as I had had them all my life and started to research them.
Such flashes of inspiration come from outside space and inside time. Newton probably had one when he got the whole theory of gravity. Some people get them in the shower and there’s a metaphysical explanation for this. What I discovered is they don’t have to be random. There is a specific breathing technique called the ‘spinal or inspirational breath’ which stirs them into existence and we pick them up with a quiet mind.
Connect with Your Muse
If you have ever felt your strings were being pulled, there is a possible reason why this happens. Some give this a spiritual attribution, saying they are guided by angels, their dear departed Aunt Ada or the faeries at the bottom of the garden. I don’t have any problem with those who take that world view, each to their own, but I have a much more plausible, yet possibly equally outlandish explanation. That said if we just imagine something is true and it helps us achieve something, then that works in ‘my book’.
In the future, be it a second or a year ahead, there’s a version of you who knows the words you are about to write. So, in meditation or just while out walking, ask for advice and guidance of this version of you and you will connect with your Muse.
The benefits of a quiet mind extend out into our days such that we become better at noticing signs, coincidences and picking up on serendipities. This is because our minds can only experience one thought at a time so a busy mind often misses those chance encounters that others seize upon. The other reason daily meditation helps an author so much is that your Muse does much more than provide your words. Your future you ‘knows’ how you are going to get published, how to find your readers and the best people around to help you promote and market your publications. The writing of this article itself is a testament and proof of this principle.
More From Tom Evans:
Tom is a UK-based writer who, after a 25 years as a techie in the broadcasting industry, became an author, an author’s mentor and meditation guide, all kind of by accident. He is now one of the most popular meditation guides on the free Insight Timer app. People like his British accent, his left-field approach, the practicality in his guidance and, not least, his sense of humour. His view is that meditation doesn’t have to be dull and worthy but can be fun and edutaining.
These days the revenue from his eclectic portfolio has given him freedom to devote 100% of his time to generating his creative output. He has latterly morphed into a novelist and ambient music composer. He is currently creating his 18th book called Soulwaves : The Duadex. He is serialising it in the Charles Dickens tradition but as an audiobook in interlinked set of what he calls MediTales : a synthesis of his meditations, out-of-this-world storytelling and ambient music.
He lives in Wiltshire in the UK with his life partner and a writer’s best friend, a labradoodle who takes him out for walks if he ever hits a creative block, or needs a pint.