In Vogue, and With Good Reason
Mindfulness is fashionable right now, and with good reason.
It's often suggested that its roots are linked to Buddhism -- though I would suggest its roots are linked to the history of humans and go back further than the two and a half thousand years since the Buddha lived. There is something deep within our psyche, I believe, that is sensitive to the transient (some might say superficial) way we live now, and that wants to wake up to a different reality.
Whatever the cause, whatever the 'root', the mindful button is being activated.
Mindfulness Isn't Some Fuddy-Duddy Ancient Approach
My passion for mindfulness isn't about creating a way of life, or an approach that harks back to the past, some bygone era. It's about living a life that is mindful now.
Mindful meaning present, where we aren’t driven by the past or fear of a future.
Mindful meaning 'in the now' so we can be the best that we can be with every new opportunity the moment of now creates.
Yes, it can be said easier than achieved, and that is because the principles of mindfulness and how to apply them are so often misunderstood. Mindfulness is more than meditation, and more than a faux peace.
I can recall times when I tell myself that I am in a ‘not writing’ phase. And yet I know as a blogger and passionate messenger it beings me such grief when I have allowed myself to fall into the illusion of that fear.
It becomes a prison. Imagine you're not allowed to smile -- can you imagine how silly that would be…? Even the thought of not being allowed to smile makes you want to smile, I bet.
Writing is as much a part of me -- and of you -- as writing. We can't not do it.
When the Writing Doesn't Flow
Yet, the words 'writers' block' are thrown around as if it's a natural and expected part of the process. I've experienced it myself, trying everything to overcome those times when I was in a desert of letters with no words.
There was a writing quote that I tried to live by that was about showing up at my desk at 9am. It just didn't work for me because when I was in that place of writing inertia brought on by fear, my mind resisted everything. I could sit at my desk and pretty much while time away doing everything but the writing.
Naming Makes It True
Writers' block is a brilliant distraction, a way to play small and a way to stop yourself from truly stepping forward. Just by naming it, by accepting that it happens is giving it justification.
You're validating as real what is only an illusion. It becomes a perpetual cycle of
I will underperform.
I can't perform at all.
When you apply mindful writing practices, however, your so-called writers' block disappears quickly and easily.
What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is about being present in the moment and being open to possibilities without judgment. It's about having the power to respond, and not react.
When you respond you are in alignment with your purpose, which means what you do -- your activity -- and who you are -- your 'being’ -- are at doing their best for your greatest good. You're moving towards the outcomes you wish to achieve, create and experience in life.
Sounds good doesn’t it? It is!
Putting it Into Practice
How can you be ‘present’ with the writing when the writing feels so hard? How can you eliminate writers' block and get back that desire to write? Let's have a look...
Practice #1: Acceptance
A mindfulness principle is acceptance.
We create struggle and strife in our lives when we can’t accept what is going on. In fighting it, or avoiding it, we are simply feeding the beast -- which in this case is writers' block.
Acceptance isn’t a white flag of surrender; it's simply acceptance. You become mindful through your breathing, and by affirming,
Yes, I have writers' block. It is what it is.
Because it is what it is.
Practice #2: Breath
I teach a breathing exercise, which is also a pattern interrupt. Writers' block is a pattern, or a habit, it isn’t a reality.
You need to interrupt the illusion like this: breathe in for 4 seconds, hold for 4, breathe out for 4, hold for 4 and repeat. Repeat this 4 times.
Practice #3: Visualisation
Simply visualise yourself writing. Bring up the feelings and the experience. You've done it before, so what's natural for you? Is it on a laptop, is it into a Dictaphone to be transcribed or typed later?
A visualisation is like exercising every part of you to get back on the writing train.
If you can visualise success you will have it. If you can’t visualise it right away, just try, even for a minute, and then extend it.
If you aren’t even trying, and are instead seeing the "I can’t write!" part manifesting, then you are visualising, therefore making true, exactly what you don’t want.
If visualisation feels like it's in the realm of woo-woo, then another way of describing this is the power of positive thought. Don’t get caught up in language -- go beyond it to the action.
Practice #4: Make a Date
The old quote I used to try and live by about showing up at my desk at 9am and sitting there until something came out was like being in prison.
That's the thing about time: it can be torture.
If you're not writing, all you're doing is feeling bad because you're not doing it. You're being distracted, feeling guilty, annoyed with yourself and so on…which is torture.
And torture starts a cycle so that, when you feel writers' block so much as knocking on your door, you step into an illusionary pattern where time feels like it is in short supply or too much. You feel off balance.
But you can stop it as easily as it starts. You can be present in the moment; a practice you can develop.
Instead of showing up at your desk and waiting for inspiration to come, feeling like a prisoner of time, make a date with yourself. Do short bursts of writing, 15 minutes at a time. Write fast. Stop. Don’t edit.
Make a date an hour later and, in between, give yourself permission to do something else. Go and have fun. You know inspiration comes when you relax. Lighten up as the saying goes.
Practice Makes Perfect
Using these four simple and powerful mindfulness practices as part of your writing ritual will support you to hone your craft and become a better writer.
Your message is important. It isn’t some choice you accidentally stumbled into, it's purposeful, very much yours to own and share.
So get over the archetypal and old-school slog that is the writer's journey and make it fun from the inside out.
Over to You...
What do you think about the tips?
What would you add?
Why not share your thoughts, questions, and comments with us on social media?
And do share this post with anyone who wants to develop a mindful writing practice.
Mindfulness is ancient and its resurgence is significant. That I know.
P.S. I applied all these practices to this post which is over 1000 words. When I invited mindfulness in it took me 30 minutes to write, because this mindfulness stuff works.