meditation: a balm for the imagination


to imagine is one of life's greatest wonders. i've been writing fiction since I was a very young kid, and stories always seemed to simply flow like water. i could write as fast and as much as i could imagine - and that was a lot. i was raised on imagination, and because of that i am able to create the worlds i've created and write the stories i've written.

you may be bobbing your head in a nod right about now, your own craft or creative medium coming to mind as you recall all the things that helped spawn your own wild imagination.

however, i think that as writers, creators, and highly imaginative souls, we often face...well, what seems sometimes to be a lack of capacity to "shut off" our imaginations. whether it's feelings of anxiousness, imagining negative scenarios, or simply being unable to quiet our minds enough to sleep. (*overhead finger-pointing to self on all of these*) there's an old saying "your greatest strength is also your greatest weakness" and i think that's highly applicable here.

having imagination is precious, and i cannot stress that enough. i feel such sadness in my heart these days when i see so many young kids on ipads and phones instead of running around outside, or inventing games, or naming trees, or pretending to be dryads, or sword fighting with their siblings. these things shaped me growing up; helped to create the person who is me. i feel blessed to have been born before this age of screens and disconnect, because it fostered the wildfire in my head that blazes still and ever stronger.

but when it comes to feelings of anxiety, stress, depression, or fear, i've come to realize that the imagination can be either a great hindrance, only adding to the inner turbulence, or, as i've been learning over the course of my entire life & recently, a great ally; a friend to remind you to fix your eyes on the steady horizon instead of the storm.

now let me get this out of the way real quick: i'm still learning, i'm a student of life, i do not have it all together. every day is a new opportunity to grow and learn and get back up, and that's what i try my level best to do; and that's exactly what this post is and nothing more. these are trail notes: these are the places i have dusted the dirt off my knees and tried again. i hope maybe it encourages you to do the same. 

i actually almost wrote this post last week and i'm glad i ended up not doing that because within the past week i've learned so much more.

over the past month and a half, i've made meditating a daily practice. and it's changing my life.

meditating was something i had dabbled in for a short period of time a couple of summers ago. i downloaded the app headspace on my phone and would typically punch in for a three to five minute guided meditation before or after a yoga practice. i found it extremely difficult to quiet my mind and sit still.

but recently, spurred by this video, and this video, i decided to give meditating another go. 

i began by once again using the headspace app. i downloaded it to my phone (again) and started meditating for ten to fifteen minutes every morning before starting my work day (typically creative writing). i'd brew some coffee, take a few sips while i settled in, and then, when i was completely comfortable, i would try my best to focus on my breath and let go of everything else: what happened yesterday, what i had to do today, and most importantly any and all self criticism.

i began to unfold this idea that the folks at headspace really like to hammer home: you are not the thoughts going through your head - and you can create distance between yourself and the thoughts passing through your mind by simply observing them as one observes cars passing from a sidewalk. we merely stand and watch. we are not the cars. and we certainly do not need to jump out into the street and chase after any of the cars either. 

there's a definite weight that gradually begins to lift when we realize that we are not thoughts. we are the observer. 

and that may sound a bit lofty and zen, but when you think about it, it makes so much sense, and brings with it this feeling of stillness that's hard to describe. i don't achieve it every single time i meditate, but i've found that the more often and longer i do meditate, the easier it becomes to reach that peaceful state of clarity and stillness.

as a creative, i began to find this practice addictive. it was such a stark difference from starting my day with fevered, anxious energy - dwelling on all the things i needed to get done, how many hours i had, and just how i was going to accomplish it all. instead i was starting my day from the ground up. literally.


for the past month and a half, i've been starting my day on the floor. i fold my yoga mat in half, cover it with a cozy falsa blanket, and settle down in a comfortable seated position.

i began to expand my practice to include some guided meditations, as well as meditating on my own. so far i've found that i like the variety of changing it up, sometimes meditating with headspace or another guided meditation on youtube, or meditating in stillness on other occasions. 

but above all i've found that there is no right or wrong to meditating. it's about finding peace and stillness in a way that works for you, whether that be by sitting in silence and focusing on your breathing, or by envisioning yourself in a particular location, or by focusing on a positive, self-loving affirmation. whether it's meditating for a few minutes, a half an hour, or an hour. it's a spiritual and very personal practice and it should be something that you explore and play with and develop on your own. 

for me, meditation is an adventure. it's about arriving on my mat and being there for myself; providing myself with healing breath, and the sacred space i need to simply be...and to relish in that. it's about letting go of everything that is no longer serving me, and allowing my imagination to envision the good, the positive, and that which i want to manifest in my life.

and if none of that language resonates, meditation can simply be a really nice opportunity to find stillness and breathe. it helps relieve stress and improve posture and lung capacity. all good things. this article delves into the science-based benefits in greater detail. 

through this daily practice, i've found that I feel much more centered and peaceful. my mornings are relaxing and generally free from any stressful energy i would have otherwise brought to my creative writing and the rest of my day. i feel a far greater sense of clarity and connect. beyond that, it's acted as a reminder that the imagination can be directed...that we have the power to step back from our thoughts and to realize that we are the observers. we don't have to let our minds drag us around, giving us whiplash. we are empowered as observers to guide our minds and create a mental environment for healthy, positive, self-loving, and inspired thoughts. i personally believe that as creators this is essential. (and by creators i mean literally everyone because we are all creators.) we live in our heads a looooot. but that's okay...as long as we make sure our heads are good, positive, uplifting places to live.

so that's where i'm at in this journey at the moment. it's helped me a lot and i hope that perhaps it inspires you to take a little time for yourself; to remind your soul that it is a creator, not a machine. that you are beautiful, loved, and filled with limitless potential. 

if this post sprinkled you with inspiration to perhaps try meditating yourself, but you're not sure where to start, here's a few guided meditations videos + music channels i enjoy:


have a rest-filled weekend and a beautiful week ahead, sweet soul. be kind to yourself. you are awesome.

stay stoked.
kate



you don't have to make anything

 

it's okay to not make anything. that sounds funny coming from a creative writer and an entrepreneur, doesn't it? i write books, make films and videos, and other stuff - that's what i do, right?

exactly. it's what i do.

if we were writers, artists, painters, musicians, dancers, and film makers then it might be a problem if we didn't make anything today. because if don't produce whatever it is that we identify ourselves as that means that we've actually lost our identity.

how can we be writers if we don't write? how can we be painters if we haven't produced any paintings in a while?

thankfully we can all breathe a sigh of relief right now, because we are not any of those things.

we aren't writers.
or painters.
or musicians.

we're not artists,
or bloggers,
or speakers
or filmmakers.

see, writing and painting and making music, etc, they're all verbs. verbs, lovely, lovely verbs - and yes, each of which deserve to be celebrated and treasured! But they are not nouns. They are not definitions of who we are.

if you're used to introducing yourself by stating your profession or what it is that you do, it may have just felt a bit uncomfortable for you to read that last paragraph. that's completely normal...just embrace that for now and stick with me. ♥

when we begin to uncurl our fists and let go of these verbs that we use to describe ourselves, we begin to land in a new place - a new point of view. we begin to see ourselves and our art differently.

let me explain.

on days when i am a writer, i can physically feel a low grade anxiety bubbling on the backburner of my mind as i sit down to write. as i sit down at my laptop, i can't help but find myself wondering "will i be able to write today? and if not...will i be able to feel happy and fulfilled for the rest of the day? how will i be able to be happy if i can't write?"


as a writer, my identity, and thus happiness, is wrapped up in my ability, or lack thereof, to produce writing. when i can't write i feel burned out, frustrated, and unfulfilled.

on the flipside of that coin...

on days when i am a living, breathing, unique being (which btw is every day, even if sometimes i forget to be aware of it), my mind is typically much calmer as i sit down to write. i feel relaxed and i don't really care that much about whether or not i'll be able to write. if i do, great! if i don't, great! either way, i find that i am happy, whole, and fulfilled, because ultimately...

i am not a writer. 

i write.
it is an action,
is a gift,
a passion, a pleasure, and a delight - yes.
but it is not an identity. 

i am. 
without action, or creation, or production of any kind,
i still am exactly who i am.

the most freeing feeling lies in the revelation of your own value apart from anything your could ever produce with your own effort. sitting in stillness with the sun on your face, without moving a muscle, you are worth more than the most immense treasure. you are invaluable.

and so it is okay when you do just that: when you make nothing. on days when the inspiration may not be present, or when you may need to or want to do other things, don't ever feel guilty - be empowered as a unique and beautiful creator. respect and enjoy exactly who you are today, without needing to make anything. making something is beautiful but it isn't necessary. whether you write or draw or make content you will still be who you are.


and you will be you beautifully. you are great at being. you were made for it, in fact. so roll your shoulders back, stretch, yawn - take a deep breath, smile. feel your lungs fill and expand with air, feel the energy flowing throughout your body. Rub your thumbs slowly over the pads of your fingers. Closing your eyes, gently whisper: thank you.

thank you for these hands. mmm, these sweet, creative hands. they can make so many beautiful things. they can bring dreams into reality. i love these hands. but these hands are still beautiful even when they are not making a single thing. 

this mind is beautiful even when it's not thinking about anything more than the birdsongs.
this body is beautiful even when it's not working out, or dressed up, or working hard, or rushing around.
this mouth is beautiful even when it's not speaking any wise or grand words.

i am beautiful because I simply am.



stay stoked,
kate