“Meditation practice teaches you to [keep writing] and not get carried away by either good days or bad.”
Susan Piver is a best selling author of books on meditation, relationships, and creativity (get her books here) and teaches meditation at retreats around the world. One of her most popular retreats takes writers through meditation exercises to help them explore their creative selves. Susan told us how she’s seen meditation help writers hone their craft and shared insights on the link between creativity and meditation.
Can you explain how meditation improves creativity?
I have found that meditation and creativity are not different from each other. Each practice combines two characteristics that seem to be at odds but definitely are not.
Meditation requires a lot of precision. You focus on breath…breath…breath. Anything that is not breath is considered thinking so in this way you shrink your world down to a single point: breath. At the same time, awareness expands and you see how enormous your mind is. Insights arise. Wisdom is revealed. The space of your mind becomes much more spacious. So meditation is simultaneously (not sequentially) one-pointed AND panoramic.
Does meditation have any unique benefits for writers?
I’ve taught dozens of meditation and writing retreats and I have found that the same benefit arises for everyone. Writing involves so much uncertainty, waiting, becoming confused, and most of all, self-doubt. It takes courage and patience to hang in there. Meditation practice teaches you to stay and not get carried away by either good days or bad but to simply keep coming back to the work.
Why did you start meditating? What was your goal?
I didn’t really have a specific goal. My intuition told me to do it.
What is your meditation routine?
I meditate from 0-7 times per week for 0-60 minutes. I try to practice everyday, in some way. Discipline is not my strong suit—going on lengthy retreat several times per year helps me to recommit, which I always have to do. That said, there seems to be an overarching, unchanging commitment to practice that has been there my whole life.
Do you think meditation gives you a competitive edge?
I don’t really know so much about competitive edges so I’m not the best person to answer this question. I can say, however, that it very much helps me to stay on task and to cope with the fears that threaten to hold me back.