Meditation and poetry are best buddies. The more you meditate, the more your poetry can flourish because you have practiced being present, and this practice will attune you to inspiration and creativity.
On the flip side, poetry can make your meditation better by allowing you to express what it means to be alive: Being aware of your existence and mind enhances meditation. That’s why meditation and poetry are perfect partners.
Read on to discover the ways meditation can aid your poetry practice.
MEDITATION HELPS YOU FOCUS
Meditation is an experience where you learn to be present in the moment with any feelings, thoughts, or sensations that occur in your mind and in your environment. Meditation is not about thinking: It’s about being. You are present with anything that arises even if it’s difficult. While peace and relaxation can be a natural result of meditation, meditation itself is about embracing any feelings or thoughts that surface and allowing them to be there until they leave. Paradoxically, by experiencing the mind exactly as it is, you can eventually relax and enjoy the benefits of meditation which include helping you focus.
In her MasterClass on writing, Margaret Atwood says a huge block to writing is interruption. Whether you get interrupted by someone knocking on your door or your mind becomes distracted by thoughts that interrupt your flow, meditation can help you relax, which in turn will help you focus when you sit down to write.
A wealth of research exists on the benefits of meditation, including research done in universities: “Researchers at the Columbia University Medical Center claim meditating can change the structure and function of the brain through relaxation, which can: reduce stress, anxiety, and depression, increase focus and learning concentration, improve memory and attention span, build stronger immune system and greater physical/psychological resilience, and allow better sleep.”
Additionally, according to the Headspace website as well as scientific research, “studies show that meditation can help you stay on task longer, switch between tasks less frequently and enjoy your tasks more.”
MEDITATION THAWS WRITER’S BLOCK
Open up any poetry magazine or journal, and you will notice that in almost every issue, writers and editors address or mention writer’s block. Some describe it as perfectionism, others as fear, some as mental health barriers, and some deny it even exists, but for many poets, writer’s block is a reality.
While writer’s block is usually described as a creative roadblock, for many, it can also be as simple as a distracted mind that is unable to focus. In this article in Writer’s Digest, Dr. Julie Rosenberg details how meditation can thaw writer’s block: “With a consistent meditation practice, it will become easier for you to get ‘in the zone’ so that your full attention is focused on the task at hand; your writing will seem effortless and your words will flow with ease. In these states of flow, I have found my writing itself to be a form of meditation. I can write for hours on end, and time seems to stand still.”
MEDITATION HELPS YOU EMBRACE THE MOMENT
Sometimes you’re writing about palm trees and butterflies, and who doesn’t enjoy writing about a beautiful scene in nature? But there are times when you will have to write about things which aren’t easy such as the death of a loved one or the loss of a friendship. Painful emotions can and will emerge if you’re writing about something raw and real, and it’s important to stay with those emotions and not run away. These emotions can be painful, but that is where the deep and valuable writing will begin, and these are the moments your reader will remember when she puts down your book.
Imagine if Maya Angelou decided to put down her pen instead of writing about trauma, racism, and child sexual abuse when creating, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. We wouldn’t have this valuable treasure of literature. Of course, this doesn’t mean you can’t take breaks when writing about a difficult subject, but it does mean that eventually, you’ll have to face painful memories and emotions, but these are the universal feelings that will make your work relatable and that will make an impact on readers.
In the book, A God in the House: Poets Talk About Faith, poet Jane Hirshfield discusses her time in a Buddhist monastery and how it helped attune her to her craft. “When I returned to poetry…I brought with me two things I now can see would be useful to any young aspiring writer: the monastic model of non-distraction and silence, and the experience of calling oneself into complete attention. The ability to stay in the moment, to investigate immediate existence through my own body and mind, was what I most needed to learn at that point in my life, and to learn to stay within my own experience more fearlessly.”
Writing poetry takes courage, but the rewards are worth it, and with a regular meditation practice, we can train our mind to be more present and in the moment. Start with a few minutes a day of meditation and then pair the practice with a poem afterward, and see where the journey takes you.