News! Because the idea was sparked by a blog post on WU, I wanted to announce here that I just inked a deal to write a book on writing and coping with doubt with Agate Publishing! Don’t have a title yet (stay tuned), but it’ll be out next year. Many thanks to Therese and to WU contributors and readers! Now on to today’s post….
I’m an anxious person by nature. My instinct is to worry first and ask questions later. In the spirit of accepting myself, I have to acknowledge there’s a lot of good that comes with that, especially for a working writer. A worrier stays on top of things—we don’t miss many deadlines. But it takes a toll too. How much more could I accomplish if I freed up some of that anxious energy? What if striving to meet a deadline could feel more like free-writing? How much more creative might I be then?
A few years ago I came across Buddhist metta (loving kindness) meditation, a way to build compassion for one’s self and others. Anxiety makes my chest feel tight and makes my whole body close up. Metta is about opening your heart and allowing that open feeling to radiate to other people. There are various takes on this meditation, but in general you prepare yourself by getting comfortable and quiet and taking a few deep breaths or allowing your breath to get even. One of the “tricks” I’ve learned to instill a loving feeling before you begin is to imagine singing a lullaby to a baby or to picture a beloved pet. Then recite to yourself a few simple statements such as:
May I be filled with loving kindness.
May I be healthy.
May I be free from fear.
May I be free from suffering.
Then you move on to someone close to you. A mentor, a friend. Then to relatives and more friends. Then to someone “neutral” (a stranger or someone you have no strong feelings about). Then to someone you don’t like or someone who has hurt you. Finally, everybody—all creatures.
In a hard place with my current novel (It sucks. I suck. Everything sucks.), I decided to try a little loving kindness for my writer self. The following is a metta meditation for writers I created.