Article 5: Writing
Meditation Walking for Writers
by Patricia Fry
Meditation is in the news again. And so is exercise. In fact, for some, exercise is a form of meditation. I've been combining my workout and my contemplative time for years. I meditate during my daily three-mile walk.
I use Meditation Walking to head off writer's block, to unlock the flow of new article ideas and to work through a problem with a story, for example. I also use a meditation technique while walking to rehearse speeches and to adjust my mindset.
There's no special training required to enter an altered state of consciousness. It's just a matter of quieting your mind, entering the stillness and experiencing the moment. Once there, you can perform the work to achieve the results you desire. The following will help you get started:
First comes the will and then the way. Once you commit to doing this, it will be necessary to establish a schedule. I suggest setting aside 45 – 60 minutes every day for your meditation walk. Dress sensibly and choose a quiet area in which to walk. Set a comfortable, steady pace. Next, release all thoughts from your mind and begin focusing only on your senses. Hear the sound of your shoes hitting the pavement, a rainbird sprinkler in the distance and birds singing. Feel the air against your skin and the tightening of your muscles as you walk. Become aware of the scents in the air—dry pine needles, a fresh mown lawn and damp pavement, for example. When you focus on your senses, you are experiencing the moment. All thoughts related to anything outside of this moment, are gone.
Come up with New Ideas
Once you clear the clutter of everyday thoughts from your mind, you can accept new thoughts. Often, ideas will flood in and other times you might have to invite them. I sometimes ask a question to prime the pump. I might say, "What articles could I write on the topic of kids' sports?" or "What's a good topic for that new home business magazine?" The ideas are there, you just have to create a space for them to materialize.
Solve a Problem
Have you ever tried to work out a problem or come up with a fresh idea by forcing it? Did it work? Most likely, the solution to the problem or the great idea became obvious when you least expected it—while peeling potatoes for dinner, painting a wall or riding your bike down a country path. The help you were after came, not while you were struggling to find an answer, but when you became relaxed. Meditation Walking provides an ideal arena for problem solving.
As an example, several years ago it was necessary for me to get a day job. I was very unhappy about this—in fact, despondent. One day, while Meditation Walking, I suddenly accepted the fact that I may have to work in a traditional job for the rest of my life. I knew I had to figure out a way to write no matter what else was going on in my world. I began getting up at 4 every morning and writing for 2 hours before getting ready for work. I also wrote on weekends. I finished a book on this schedule in 8 months. From there, I began building my freelance writing business and within a year, I was able to quit the day job and focus all of my attention on writing.
Change Your Mind
Sometimes it's necessary to direct our thought processes. When I'm feeling a little overwhelmed or unsure, I'll use Meditation Walking to change my approach, thus the results. In this case, I will visualize the situation and the outcome that I desire. I will see myself tackling the work with confidence and accomplishing tasks with expertise. Add affirmations to the mix and you'll experience a greater measure of success. Say, for example, "I am a professional." "I am self-assured." "I am more than capable of meeting this challenge." When you have a negative thought, replace it with a positive one. Once you believe it, it becomes a reality.
Use your Meditation Walk to rehearse a promotional speech or a sales pitch to an editor or publisher or to come up with some good interview questions. While rehearsing isn't actually a form of meditation, if you've developed the habit of walking and you are accustomed to using this time for a purpose, rehearsing during the walk can be a natural activity. Several years ago, I was cast as a Kit Kat Girl in a little theater production of Cabaret. I practiced the complicated dance/acrobatic routine in earnest at the physical level, but I also rehearsed it in my mind every day while walking. I'm sure this is why, at the age of 50+, I was able to learn and execute the moves fairly quickly.
Meditation walking is a way to relax and increase your awareness while getting some of that fresh air and exercise you know you need.