Writing Inspiration: The Meditation of Movement

Writing requires a certain mindset.

For me there is always a struggle to find the right balance between the beautiful flowing mania of words tumbling out onto the page in the passion of tumult and the measured, thoughtful pace set by the discipline of sitting down every day to work at it.

One has to accept that both of these extremes are part of writing. But what is required to navigate them is peace of mind.

There's a ton of press about the benefits of meditation for mental and physical health, brain functioning, management of anxiety, and pretty much every area of life. The typical advice is to take some time out of your day to sit quietly and still, emptying your mind.

Stillness can be beautiful. Lying in bed upon waking, sensing the light flooding into my room behind eyes that I refuse to open because I won't yet capitulate to the morning march, I am still. I let the compass in my mind reorient itself to the land of the waking, and I stay still until the slowly sweeping needle finds the direction of the day. 

There is also beauty in animal stillness; the slowing of movement and tamping down of the interior inferno in order to be in tune with the non-human world. Walking into the sweet, sacred space of a horse's stall or settling myself down next to a cat that is deciding whether it wants my company, I am still.

The stillness of those moments brings me a kind of peace that I cherish; but it is not the peace of mind required for inspiration. It is a passive sort of relaxation.

Often, I find that I need movement to find the kind of peace that inspires me. It is an active relaxation wherein my mind seems to operate most creatively when my body is in motion.

I am at my best when I'm driving. The movement of the car beneath me and the changing view out the windshield combined with the powerful feeling of freedom to control my direction, the sort of background-running attention that the actual task of operating the car takes, and the inspiration of the music on the radio all contribute to a perfect atmosphere for the functioning of my mind. I think more creatively and confidently in the car than anywhere else.

After driving, the next best state is that of movement powered by my own body. I'm always having to walk things off: fights, frustrations, frenzies. The movement of my body has a very grounding influence. When thoughts are scary or overwhelming, going for a walk or a run (especially in nature) always calms me. Perhaps the use of my body is a reminder that I am real, I am alive, and I am healthy--and that no matter what the thoughts contain, I can handle them and survive. After engaging in this kind of movement, I find I can return to problems with fresh eyes and so much more easily fix or finish things that before seemed to have no solution.

One of the best things about being a freelancer is the opportunity it gives me to get up from my work and move around freely. Theoretically, this is possible when you're working in an office. The meditation of silence and stillness wouldn't be disruptive to your coworkers, but people would probably look askance at you if your breaks consisted of a round of jumping jacks or a series of yoga poses. 

Just as introverts and extroverts recharge themselves differently (being away from people and being surrounded by people, respectively), I think there are different camps of people who refresh either through stillness or through movement. I certainly fall into the latter camp. Next time you're stuck, frustrated, bored, tired, in a towering rage at how slow your computer is operating, or just plain antsy, try it. Get up and go for a walk, do some calisthenics, or, as Peter Gabriel suggests when he wants to "run away," drive off in your car. Whatever your preferred method of mobility, engage in the meditation of movement and see if it works for you.