Friday, February 13, 2015

Writing as a form of Meditation

I’ve always been shitty at meditation. As a kid there was something about the practice that seemed attractive to me. I don’t remember what it was. I tried to make a meditation cushion one time. I did not succeed.

I went to a weekly zen meeting for a month or two once. It was mostly a failure: I wasn’t sure what to do with myself and the blissful effects wore off after the first go. The people were kind but somewhat cloying and they lost it when a Nepali Lama came through town and that sort of clinched it for me. I’ve tried on my own, but honestly it was not much better.

But this got me thinking. The method or goal of meditation is to allow thoughts to arise as they will, then to identify those thoughts and let them go with the end goal of clearing one's mind. It seems to me that writing is just another form of this, that writing is another kind of meditation, or a substitute for meditation, or just meditation itself. At least in the way that I do it, I suppose I can’t speak for other writers.

But it is the first thing I do every day, every weekday. I do it at least for forty minutes, often up to an hour. When I do it I just begin to write the thoughts in my head. Sometimes these thoughts connect tightly or loosely to an ongoing story, sometimes these thought are another story or idea and sometimes these ideas are totally unrelated, or are just the thought that ‘writing is hard and I hate it’.
The writing always starts slow, can be slow for ten or fifteen minutes even, but then things always seems to pick up and I hit something of a groove and the words just sort of flow out of me. Time seems to slow down and I pretty much interface directly with the computer. This state can last anywhere from five minutes to half an hour then things will generally taper off or I will have to go off and do something else.

I can usually achieve this once a day, twice if I am feeling really dedicated. A few times I have sustained this for more than an hour, for two hours and one time I did this for I think four or five solid hours.

Not having ever reached a true meditative experience, but having read about them a bit this sounds similar. In fact the complaints of the difficultly of getting into meditation and getting into a writing habit sound very similar. And the pay offs sound similar as well, the state of loss of mind, the state of flow, the state of empty awareness, something that is sort of vaguely euphoric or pure.

I guess that is all there really is to say about that.

Breifly considered getting a 'Silence, Cunning, Exile' tattoo. Turns out Johnny Depp has that tattoo so there's that our the window...

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