The problem? My “noisy mind.” One of my “goals” for 2015 (and it was one for 2014, 2013, etc, etc.) is to meditate more. Or meditate at all. Out of all the “self-improvement” type things that I study and “practice,” it is the one I struggle with the most. It is also, I believe, the one I need the most.
I have a very “noisy” mind. I know that I am not alone in this, as I’ve heard friends complain about the same thing, and it is particularly true with us “addict types.” (And, if you are wondering what is up with all the quotation marks in this post, you are not alone. What is up with that? I’m not sure, but that’s what feels right, so I’m going with it.)
(See what I mean about a “noisy” mind. It just constantly goes and goes in so many different directions.)
Where I went to look for help? Podcasts!
I’m sure I have mentioned once or twice about my love of podcasts and audiobooks, and most of those are on the subject of self-improvement. Ever since I entered recovery, I have pursued change like the good addict that I am, meaning that I’ve acted out obsessively and compulsively, but fortunately for me (and those around me), that obsession has been channeled in a (MOSTLY) positive direction.
Back to the podcasts and audiobooks (oy vey with the random asides…), time after time people I admire and follow, such as Tim Ferriss and Marianne Williamson, and even Oprah, stress the importance of meditation as an essential practice in the development of inner peace. And, really, isn’t that what we all want? Just to be at peace with ourselves and our place in the world?! I know it is what I really want, but, yet, I struggle mightily with meditation. I blame it on my “noisy mind,” but really it is a PRACTICE just like anything else, and the more you practice it, the better you get and the easier it becomes. Or, at least, that’s what “they” say.
BUT, there is light in this tunnel of noise and confusion, also known as my mind. On a recent episode of one of my new favorite podcasts, Life on Purpose with Gregory Berg, the guest, Charles Francis, mentioned writing meditation. The episode is #8 entitled “Finding Inner Peace Through Mindfulness Meditation with Charles A. Francis,” and it is certainly worth a listen. I heard a lot of great stuff about meditation in that episode, including the idea of writing meditation. As someone who struggles with “sitting still” in general, and struggles with it in such a serious way when it comes to sitting in quiet for meditation, it occurred to me that the one time I don’t fight “sitting still” is when I’m writing: either while writing in my journal, or in this blog. Maybe writing meditation could work for me, I thought, and so I checked out Mr. Francis’ website, the Mindfulness Meditation Institute, for more information. What I found were instructions that you can download and print (which is what I did) for “loving kindness writing meditation.” I read and followed the instructions and started the same day.
The solution? Writing Meditation! Loving Kindness Writing Meditation & the Online Journal, 750words.com
I sat at my writing desk and set the timer on my cell phone for 10 minutes and began copying the sentences from the Loving Kindness Writing Meditation instructions onto blank pieces of paper. The sentences are broken down into groups, wishing love and peace to yourself, your house, your neighborhood, your city, etc., etc. The instructions tell you to just copy those sentences, as many as you can, for 10 minutes. And, that is what I did. And for 10 minutes, my mind stayed focused on those sentences. There was a brief moment when I started to go down the “to do list” path (I need to check into Crossfit, I have to return those things to Marshall’s, etc., etc.), but I had to quickly refocus on the sentences in order to copy them correctly. I will tell you that the 10 minutes flew by. I did it again the next day. And the day after that. I began waking up a little earlier each morning to do the writing mediation before going to work. I’m not sure how much things changed for me in those 5 days, but I do know for sure that for those 10 minutes, I felt peaceful and my mind was quiet, and that is amazing.
But, like the classic addict type that I am, the next day I was back on “the Google” looking for more information about writing meditation. (Because God forbid I just stick to one thing when I find something that works. Ugh, I am so annoying.) I found a pretty cool article about writing meditation with a link to an even cooler website called 750 words. I then began using the 750 words website to do my writing meditation every morning. Although I really like the website and the idea (and LOVE the stats they compile after you have written — stats about YOUR “thoughts”), I have, however, found that the “free writing” encouraged by that article and the website, gets me into that “to do list” mentality, which I’m not sure has the same effect as the strict copying of the loving kindness sentences. BUT, I did feel more grounded at the end of the 750 words sessions – somehow just getting out all those “to do lists,” and all the random ideas floating around my “noisy mind,” made the moments immediately following the writing session QUIET, which is the goal, right?
Sadly, by the end of that week, I had fallen off the “writing meditation bandwagon” I had been on in favor of the “Crossfit bandwagon” (blog post upcoming about starting Crossfit). I decided to write this blog post in hopes of getting back on “the writing meditation bandwagon,” because I did start to notice some cool results, and it did give me at least 10-20 minutes of quiet mind time, and for me, that is a gift.
My goal is to take 20 minutes each morning to do writing meditation. The first 10 minutes I will go to 750words.com and do the free writing meditation to get all those to do lists and big ideas out of my head and onto paper, so that I can then do 10 minutes of loving kindness meditation, and go into the rest of my day (hopefully) with thoughts focused on kindness and service to others. Because that is where true peace and happiness comes from for me these days —- when I get out of “self” (ego), and get into being of service to others.
I hope you guys check out those links and resources and try writing meditation out for yourselves. I would love to hear what you think, too. Please leave me some comments about your experiences with meditation. Or whatever.
Wishing you peace of mind … for at least 10 minutes per day 😉