I was so mad when I discovered that meditation for creativity -and meditation in general- actually works.
I used to hate meditation. I spent so much time resisting it. It seems so silly, looking back. There are tons of scientific studies that tell us that meditation is an effective tool. There are programs to teach mindfulness in prisons, and in my experience as a kindergarten teacher, some schools are incorporating meditation into their curriculums, even for very young children. When it came to my students, I loved it. For me? Absolutely not. If you have anxiety, everyone in the world has probably told you that meditation can help. Despite all this, I was always resistant to trying it out for myself. I’m a very active person, and the idea of just sitting alone with my thoughts terrified me. It’s not that I never tried it: when I closed my eyes to meditate, my head filled with anxious, racing thoughts and I quickly became totally overwhelmed. I was the type of person who would go to a yoga class and then leave before savasana (sorry to all my yoga classmates). But one day, I was in a creative writing class and we did a group meditation. This teacher was different; she told me it was okay if keeping my eyes closed made me anxious, and encouraged folks with anxiety and trauma to lay on the floor to feel more grounded as we meditated. With these tips and her gentle guidance, the difference was night and day. Not only was I able to participate in the meditation, I was happy to do so, and I left the experience feeling lighter and more grounded than I’d been going in, a far cry from how dysregulated I’d felt in the past. Now I am, unfortunately for everyone around me, a hardcore fan of meditation.
I think you should be too. Let me break it down for you.
Not only is it good for your mental health, I truly believe meditation is an amazing tool for artists. It helps you clear your mind, regulate your nervous system, and find inspiration. It creates a happier, calmer, more centered version of yourself, and allows you to create more freely. It’s not a coincidence that I found the first meditation that worked for me in a creative writing class; it genuinely is a tool that allows me to be a better artist. If you’re a meditation skeptic or newbie, read on and learn more about how you can get started with meditation for creativity.
If I had to give just one piece of advice about meditation for creativity, I’d tell you that you can try a lot of different things until you find something that works for you personally. My therapist recommended I try the (free) app Insight Timer, which I’ve absolutely loved. They have guided meditations for every occasion, created by a wide variety of practitioners of different backgrounds. They have meditation music and nature sounds to help lull you to sleep, or you could use the music to do your own meditation, if that works for you. If you search the word creativity, hundreds of tracks come up that are expertly designed to help you get in touch with your creative side.
Of course, one app isn’t the be-all end-all of meditation. I know plenty of people who use websites like Youtube to meditate. Just like with my beloved app, you can look up specific mediations (like for meditation for creativity, focus, or even getting through your Saturn return) or you can listen to meditation music to create a spa-like experience wherever you are. Some people pay for subscriptions on sites or apps like Headspace, Calm, or the paid version of Insight Timer. All of these are worthwhile options, but you should feel free to explore whatever works for you. You might find that, like me, meditation actually makes you more anxious. Take the time to pinpoint why. If you don’t like being alone with your thoughts, try a meditation for creativity that holds your hand the whole way, allowing you to focus your thoughts on what the teacher is saying. If you find yourself getting distracted, try reminding yourself that meditation is a skill and it’s okay if not every meditation session feels totally “successful.” It feels weird, but you literally cannot fail at this! If anxiety or trauma makes it difficult for you to relax, try keeping your eyes open and laying on the floor to feel more grounded. If it makes you feel sleepy, try to meditate just before you go to bed; that way, there’s no issue if you doze off.
Meditation is a lot of things; a skill that can be learned, a tool that can be employed, a method through which you can learn to regulate your emotions. Stick with it, and see what impact it has on your life and creativity; I promise that if you keep practicing and experimenting, you’ll find something that works for you. Think of the process of meditation as similar to finding a therapist. Not everyone is going to take your insurance, not everyone is going to specialize in the same thing, and not everyone is going to be a good fit on a personal level. Just because one therapist doesn’t work for you doesn’t mean that therapy is a bad idea. Meditation for creativity is the same way. Focus on strengthening your meditation muscles and exploring new things. Meditation for creativity is a powerful tool if you find the right fit.
- Choose a platform, like Insight Timer or Youtube. Don’t pay for something right away.
- Pick three meditations you want to try. Make them totally different; maybe try whale sounds, a meditation for creativity, and a sleep meditation. Make them all from different practitioners so you get a wide range of experiences.
- Over the course of a few weeks, set aside ten minutes or so for meditation. Don’t go all in at once and start meditating every day, or try to dive into a 45 minute meditation the first time. That might pay off, but it also might make you feel stressed, rushed, or like meditation is a chore. Eventually, you’ll find a cadence that works for you.
- Take a moment to write down how you feel before and after each meditation. Once you complete your session, do you feel tense? Relaxed? Inspired? This is valuable data that will help you decide if meditation is working for you. It may feel extra, but taking the time to jot down your thoughts will help you pinpoint what specifically is going to work for you.
- The next time you’re feeling stressed or overwhelmed, find a quiet spot and try a quick five-minute meditation and see if it helps. If it doesn’t, that doesn’t mean meditation isn’t right for you, it just means that in this particular moment, that particular meditation wasn’t what you needed.
- Remember to be creative and keep trying. Mindfulness is a lifelong journey, and you can’t expect to “arrive” at some perfectly self-actualized state just because you meditated a few times. Temper your expectations and be gentle with yourself. Like I said before, you can’t fail at meditation.
Thanks for taking the time to read about meditation for creativity. I’d love to hear from you about your journey with mindfulness and how it impacts your work. If you’re a seasoned meditation practitioner, reach out and let me know what tips you’d offer to folks who are just starting to learn about meditation for creativity!