What is Writing Meditation?

Very basically, writing meditation is mindful meditation while writing. It is about the practice of focus, loss of focus, and the return to focus. Writing meditation is a state of heightened mental awareness and inner peace that brings mental, physical, and spiritual benefits. Writing meditation can be practiced without adherence to any religion or philosophy.

Meditation usually conjures up an image of a hermit sitting on a mountaintop, for hours, in the lotus position, eyes closed and in silence. In reality, meditation can be practiced while walking, chanting, working in the garden or writing at a desk. It can be done on one’s own, or with a group of other people. A session can last a few minutes a day to several hours per week.

Anyone can use this method, whether you consider yourself a good writer or not, is irrelevant. Typical writing meditations are short, 5- to 20-minute focused writing sessions that encourage creativity and facilitate problem-solving through mindful, diligent concentration. It helps you to reflect on important tasks or decisions and to think about things from different perspectives.

Focused Meditation vs Free writing Meditation

There are many different types of meditation but the two we use most often during our mindfulness meditation retreats here in the south of France are Focused Meditation and Free writing Meditation. During focused meditation one concentrates on something specific, like your breathing, a candle, a horse or a mantra. During free writing meditation, one attends without attachment or aversion to whatever thoughts, feelings or sensations one experiences. Writing meditation can be a wonderful source of insight. .

Copying a script, for example, a loving-kindness script, can reprogram our subconscious much more effectively than if we were simply reading, hearing, or reciting the words – and with very little conscious effort on our part. Free writing is different. It involves writing down whatever comes into your head for a set period of time or for a specific number of words.

If you find traditional sitting meditation difficult, one of the most useful types of meditation to try is writing meditation. Writing gives your busy mind something to do as you cultivate awareness of the overall experience. Writing meditation is not necessarily therapeutic. Therapeutic writing differs from simple writing meditation in that it involves writing about a specific emotionally charged episode with the aim of arriving at a therapeutic outcome, whereas the aim of simple writing meditation is purely to meditate, or to familiarise oneself with the practice of meditation or to try a different type of meditation.

Writing meditation is really very easy. All you have to do is find a quiet spot where you will not be disturbed, take a few deep breaths and write. If you want to do a focused writing meditation, one of the easiest ways to do this is by copying a Loving Kindness script. You will find a full Loving-Kindness Meditation Script as a pdf here: Loving-Kindness Writing Meditation

More about Free Writing Meditation

If you prefer free writing, just write whatever comes into your head for a set amount of time. And if nothing comes into your head, use a prompt like “My favourite way to spend the day is…” Or you could write a “letter to an ancestor”. This letter could be addressed to a grandparent or great-grandparent, or even someone from many generations back who you have never met. Write them a letter about your life, ex. an explanation of who you are, your current life situation, achievements, skills, talents and aspirations. Your mind will wander, and each time you realise that you are thinking about something other than the letter you are writing, just return your focus to the writing meditation

Free writing prompts

I reflect on the people in my life who have made me feel loved and supported. These people are my family and/or my friends. I reflect on how they affect my life and how I feel when I spend time with them. I feel grateful for …..

I spent time today being fully attentive and engaged with someone I care about. This is how I spent my time with him/her, and how this time together made me feel……

I am grateful for the food that I have eaten at various times of my life. I reflect on the meals that I have shared with friends, families, and colleagues. I am grateful for……….

I am aware of my strengths and skills, which have helped me on my path to where I am today. I feel grateful for…

Keeping a Meditation Journal

While we are on the subject of writing, if this sort of meditation works for you, you may want to consider keeping a meditation journal – journalling your meditation practice. One day you may write something like: Free writing meditation. 10 minutes. Couldn’t concentrate. Struggled. Needed to use several different prompts. Felt a bit disappointed. On another day, you may write something completely different: No time for writing meditation last night. Will have to try morning meditation. And yet on another day: Started with a breathing exercise. Copied loving-kindness meditation script. Felt completely refreshed after. Breathing thing useful. A meditation journal can motivate us to practice meditation because we are keeping a record and record keeping can lead to insights that we may otherwise have missed. We can also see if we are making progress or not. Example of a Mindfulness Journal

During our Horse-Guided Mindfulness Meditation retreats, we often make time, after the scheduled equine-guided meditation, to discuss writing meditation and its various possibilities with our workshop participants and then encourage them to find a quiet spot and to sit down and write a few lines. Wherever they write, remains between them and the page, although should they get stuck, help will only be a prompt away.

“Note that this journey is uniquely yours, no one else’s. So the path has to be your own. You cannot imitate somebody else’s journey and still be true to yourself. Are you prepared to honour your uniqueness in this way?” Jon Kabat-Zinn

If you would like to find out more about writing meditation, please consider buying my book, Mindfulness and Meditation Options. (available since mid-Dec 2016  from Amazon). The book covers mindfulness and meditation in detail. Each chapter starts with a letter from a potential retreat guest, explaining her personal problems. Each chapter offers a potential solution based on mindfulness and meditation. You may even recognise yourself in one of the letters!

This book is the accompanying and complementary workbook to my retreats. If you would like to find out more about my retreats, you can e-mail us on welcome2gascony([at]gmail.com or fill in the form below:

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