Don’t Just Write. Sit! Meditation improves creative thinking and focus

Woman writing in a notebook.


Don’t Just Write. Sit! Meditation Improves Creative Thinking and Focus

I sometimes surprise my students when I ask them to try meditation during my adult writing classes. “What’s meditation have to do with writing?” more than one has asked over the twenty years I’ve taught. When I first began to teach, meditation was seen as a hippie, woo woo, new age thing. Some students even feared it might interfere with their religion.

But things have changed.

Now, most students are at least familiar with some meditation technique and many have a regular practice. I find that encouraging, especially as evidence through scientific study continues to show temporary and lasting physical, emotional, and creative benefits.

In  the article “30 Evidence-Based Health Benefits of Meditation” Patrick Zeis organizes his list into those categories. I read the piece as part of the 200-Hour Meditation Leader training I’m taking through Sage Institute for Creativity and Consciousness. I joined this intensive training so I might offer a more thorough meditative experience to all types of creative people, not just writers.

While the benefits listed in the article inspired me to deepen my own practice, two stood out as especially helpful to writers and other creative people.

First, meditation improves creative thinking skills.

People seek me out when stuck. They want to tell their stories but can’t find the deep well of creativity inside. I offer meditation as part of the solution. Zeis writes, “Science has shown how untapped creative resources can undoubtedly be found within us all.” It builds creative thinking skills needed to do this work.

The article cites a study from Leiden University in the Netherlands. The research found that “practicing open monitoring meditation techniques resulted in higher divergent thinking test scores.” And practicing “focused attention meditation techniques resulted in higher convergent thinking scores.”

I offer different meditation practices to boost the mind’s natural ability. These same methods enable me to complete projects and helped me find a publisher.

Second, meditation increases focus and productivity.

A vast majority of my clients lament their lack of focus. Some can’t finish projects or get started at all. Zeis explains that a University of Washington study showed the effectiveness of meditation. Participants who meditated as part of the study could concentrate longer without being distracted. Meditation improves the skills needed for doing this work.

Since meditation improves creative thinking and focus, I will continue to use it in my classes. If you haven’t considered meditation, add it to your writing toolkit. The results might amaze you!

The original version of this article appeared in The Innovation.