Writing As A Meditation Device

By Jamie McSloy / March 11, 2018
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Writing As A Meditation Device

Writing is a tool which you can use to increase your mental abilities.

One of the ways you can do this is by using writing as a form of meditation.

Now, there are a ton of writers who say things like, “writing for me is like meditation” and what they really mean is that they day dream and pretend to be a writer so that they can avoid doing any real work.

I don’t mean that. When I say “use writing as a meditation device” I mean actual, hardcore meditation.

Like a Buddhist monk in the Himalayas, but with a laptop.

How Am I Defining Meditation?

A bunch of people have written about a million volumes on what meditation is and how to do it.

Here’s how I define the practice. I split meditation into three activities with three goals.

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  1. Thought Observation
  2. Thought Control
  3. Void Meditation

Thought observation is simply the act of observing your thoughts. If you’re anything like me, then your brain works at what seems a million miles an hour, and thoughts constantly pop in and out of your head according to their own rhythm. Thought observation is the act of observing those thoughts as they occur – purely to see what’s going on.

Thought control is the act of keeping to a specific train of thought. This is the most useful meditative skill in day to day life, because it’s essentially concentration. This article is an example of a thought control exercise, because I’m keeping the pattern of thoughts going through my head concerned with writing this article as opposed to watching cat videos on YouTube or whatever.

Void meditation is what people traditionally think of meditation as.

In void meditation, you seek to empty your mind of verbal thoughts. This is a good exercise to master because it helps you perform when things are toughest. When people enter a stressful situation or experience strong emotional conflicts, their brains tend to get the better of them. Void meditation allows you to quiet your mind when you need to.

How To Use Writing To Build These Skills

There are three corresponding exercises for each of the above.

Exercise 1: Thought Observation

This is simply a case of sitting in front of your computer, or better yet, writing with pen and paper.

As your thoughts come into your head, put them down. It doesn’t matter if they make sense, or whether there’s any meaning to them. Nor does it matter whether the thoughts are long-lasting or fleeting.

You aren’t judging. You’re just observing and cataloguing your thoughts at this stage.

Exercise 2: Thought Control

You sit and set a timer for fifteen minutes. Modify that figure if you have a long concentration span versus a short one. You’ll get better, so don’t worry if you can only do five minutes.

With this, you’ll pick a subject and you’ll write exclusively about that until the timer is up. This might seem easy, but it’s quite difficult. The whole point is that you don’t think of anything else until that timer runs down. A bonus thing which I do for this is to not allow yourself to stop typing.

So no sitting and thinking about what you’re going to write next. Bonus points if you ban the use of your delete key and backspace key so that you don’t permit yourself any mistakes.

One train of thought is allowed until the timer runs down. No excuses.

Exercise 3: Void Meditation

This exercise shouldn’t involve much typing. Set your timer.

This is an inverse of the first exercise. For fifteen minutes you try not to think any thoughts. When they occur, you write down the briefest description you can give.

E.g. “Thought about lunch.”

Then you push the thought out of your mind actively.

You do this until the timer finishes.

By doing this exercise, you’ll come to appreciate the most persistent thoughts you have. After the exercise, you’ll be able to see what they are and hopefully act on them.

Final Thoughts

The above forms the basis for a meditative writing session. You can take the exercises in many different directions, but the above are useful to start with.

They’ll also increase your effectiveness if you ever try to write anything. But for purely meditative gains, you can expand these into creative visualisation exercises which’ll be heightened by learning these base skills.

Go to it.