Sunday Read: Book Extract: Frequently Asked Questions About Inspiration Meditation

Meditation for Creativity Below are some frequently asked questions about the connections between meditation and creativity (Meditation for Creativity FAQs) and how to best enjoy the benefits of Inspiration Meditation. (from Inspiration Meditation, Book Four in the Go Creative! series for creative entrepreneurs).

As you embark upon the practice of Inspiration Meditation, lay down all expectations or demands and allow what is to be.

There is no such thing as a bad meditation. Any time spent in silence is (in)valuable, even if thoughts keep twirling throughout. Fold away your judgments — of what is happening in the session, of what should be happening, of what would be better if only… Just observe.

Rather than adding thought to thought, let it all go.

That open, welcoming awareness of what actually is, whether you want it to be so or not, that is the meditative state, that is your creative consciousness surfacing. You enable it to arise by being gentle and easy with yourself. You cannot chase it or force it. You can only allow it to be.

Meditation is a practice, not an accomplishment. The only way you can “fail” is by choosing not to do it. But there will always be days we don't make it. If you don’t meditate today, just gently bring yourself to practice tomorrow.

Meditation for Creativity FAQs: When Should I Meditate?

Zen masters recommend that the moment you open your eyes, before the first conscious thought has time to harden in your min

That said, meditating first thing in the morning has many benefits, not least that it sets the tone for your day.

Meditation for Creativity FAQs: How Often Should I Meditate?

Meditation is simply an altered mind state to the state that is most usual for most of us: thinking.

The meditative state can take two forms:

  1. That of not thinking, of finding the space between the words and concepts and ideas that are constantly rising in our minds.
  2. That of full awareness of those words and concepts and ideas. Another dimension of mind, most commonly known as mindfulness (but also called awareness and, most relevance to creative entrepreneurs, creative presence).

This mind state can be enjoyed at any time throughout the day. What we refer to as “meditation practice” is when we put time aside to practice being in this state, this

[Our Go Creative! morning flow practice uses a technique that encourages resting from our thoughts. It is a technique that's especially useful for febrile creative minds]

So how often should you meditate? As often as possible. And you should practice once or twice daily, morning or evening, to encourage this mind state.

Meditation for Creativity FAQsHow Long Should I Meditate For?

Any time spent in silent contemplation is better than none but some research is indicating that 15 minutes is optimal, with diminishing returns setting in after that.

You may be more comfortable starting with ten, or even five. Aim to build day by day, just as you would build the fitness of any other “muscle”.

Build slowly, no pressure. In these matters, infinite patience delivers instant results. And the more you meditate, the more you like meditating–so most experienced meditators like to do longer.

Inspiration Meditation FAQs: How Should I Breathe?

Breathe in and out through your nose. As you move into meditation, your breath will naturally slow. Don’t try to make this happen. Just notice it. You will also find the mantra in your mind is likely to synchronize with the breath. Again, don’t work for this. Just enjoy it as it arises.

Meditation for Creativity FAQsWhat Posture Should I Adopt?

In theory, meditation can be done in any position, sitting, standing or lying down. In practice, many people find the freedom meditation offers is most easily accessed through a little discipline.

This is your body demonstrating your intention to your mind.

The classic, cross-legged, seven-point posture is a favored position for meditation because it encourages alert wakefulness but Inspiration Meditation can be done sitting in a chair with the feet flat on the floor, or lying flat on your back.

In all positions, keep your spine straight and your shoulders, neck and face relaxed; your eyes gently closed; your lips in a half smile; your teeth unclenched; your jaw released; your tongue loose in your mouth; the muscles of your face at ease.

Make adjustments with small micro-movements to ensure that you are comfortable.

If sitting, your hands can be cradled, one on top of the other below the navel, elbows held slightly out from your body. If lying, keep your arms by your side in a relaxed position, palms turned upwards.

  • If you really need to move while meditating, because of pins and needles or a cramp or any other discomfort, that’s fine. Move slowly and quietly, if possible, in harmony with the breath, retaining mindfulness.
  • A slight anxiety or wish to move or itch is best observed rather than acted on. It will pass.
  • If you find yourself falling asleep during meditation, it means that you are sleep deprived. You will find that regular meditation induces more, or better quality, rest.
  • If you need a certain posture, or cushion, or to be with a group in order to meditate well, ensure that you have it. Know yourself. Meet your own needs.

Meditation for Creativity FAQsI Can't Stop My Thoughts

Thoughts are the breath of the mind; we cannot stop them for long. But we can slow them. We can become aware of them. We can learn to observe them.

Meditation for Creativity FAQs: Should I Practice Alone or in a Group?

Mental distractions are harder to overcome when practicing alone. For some people, closing the eyes or being quiet produces anxiety and increases mental agitation. In such situations, it can be better to undertake meditation practice — whether physical yoga or sitting meditation — with other people, a group with whom one can feel comfortable and easeful.

Gradually, as we see more and more clearly their roots, the fears and the imaginings will diminish.

Meditation for Creativity FAQsI Don’t Always Feel Like Meditating.

No, neither do I. Neither does the monk in the monastery. This is con-mind resisting its own demise.

The thinking part of our brain is astonishingly creative at throwing up reasons why we should give today’s meditation session a skip or, if we’ve started, why we should stop. This syndrome is not unique to meditation. Runners don’t feel like running every day, and every writer knows how washing the floor can sometimes seem preferable to sitting down at the blank page to do what we most love to do.

A runner is someone who runs anyway, a writer is someone who writes anyway, a meditator is someone who meditates anyway.

The good news is that regular meditation minimises the resistance. One of its effects is that it decreases the power of con-mind’s confabulations.

Meditation for Creativity FAQsI Don’t Like What Surfaces When I Meditate.

When you start meditating, you may feel restless or bored, anxious or upset, perhaps even angry or anguished. Meditation doesn’t produce these feelings; quieting the ruminating mind just makes you aware of what’s there, underneath.

This is one of the reasons that we resist meditation. We sense what lies beneath our surface thoughts and feelings, and we’re fearful of engaging with this submerged energy, of finding out what it means, of what it might ask of us. We’d prefer to be busy and distracted, or drunk and disorderly.

Sometimes we find that on sitting, that the monster of the deep turns out to be a cuddly toy. Sometimes, usually when we are most resistant to meditation, it’s not that easy. Something lurks there, a grisly knot of emotion that, yes, is painful.

Stay with it: carry on meditating, holding yourself in the arms of your own awareness as you face the feelings and knowings.

Here’s how:

  • As you feel emotion rising, don’t deny what you are feeling. Be aware of it.
  • Continue to use the phrase, to enter the space, to sound the sound of “All”. These will protect you as you allow the emotion to arise and witness how it feels.
  • Be gentle with yourself, insulating yourself with the mantra, as you journey through the experience, keeping your eyes open to what’s arising even if you find tears fogging your vision.
  • See the emotion for what it is — but without labelling it or adding to the pain.
  • Ride the wave of the feeling in you, observing its beginning, middle and passing. For pass it will, and you will land in the peace that lies beyond, the peace that, in the lovely Christian phrase, “passeth understanding”.

Over time, often a surprisingly short period, you find the feeling has dissolved. It’s no longer there, niggling at the back of your mind or unconsciously directing your decisions and behaviours. You are free.

This is the most common psychological trajectory for those who meditate, but occasionally a person can be swamped by an upsurge of painful emotion: feelings of being violently angry, overwhelmed, out of control or even suicidal, or with physical symptoms of panic. If this is you, or you suspect it might happen, you must seek pycho-therapeutic help and support — whether you meditate or not.

A good therapist will facilitate your understanding of these emergent feelings and how to integrate and process them while protecting yourself from their onslaught. You should also do some F-R-E-E Writing. More on that here.

Meditation practice can continue under such guidance, and in time, you too will come to treasure the peace and freedom that is found in meditation.

Meditation for Creativity FAQsI Don’t Like the Idea that Meditation will Change Me.

Meditation does change us at the emotional, spiritual and creative level, much as exercise changes us at the physical level.

Like exercise, meditation makes us stronger, lighter, livelier and more in touch with our own well-being. It also connects us with our innate creative intelligence so that our life decisions become more expressive of the essential, “real” us and less driven by convention or other people’s expectations.

This can sometimes make other people, our friends and family, uncomfortable, but, just as I have yet to meet anyone who regrets the fitness benefits they derive from regular exercise, I have never known anyone to bemoan the creative, emotional and spiritual “fitness” meditation delivers.