Nowadays, you hear many people talking about being mindful or being in a state of mindfulness. But what does that actually mean? The concept of being mindful finds its origins in Buddhist mindfulness (one of the seven factors of enlightenment) but mindfulness has been also used in many other religions. More recently, Jon Kabat-Zinn made the concept popular in the West when he combined Buddhist mindfulness concepts with Western Medicine in his Stress Reduction Clinic and Center for Mindfulness at the UMass Medical Center.
To me, without getting into the religious or psychological aspects of mindfulness, being mindful means being conscious or aware of things with a present, immediate awareness of your thoughts or actions. For example, I play tennis. When I play well, I realize that I am conscious of my every shot, how I want to hit it and where I want it to go. But that stems not from over thinking or over analyzing, but just being in the moment, being present, being aware of what is going on everywhere on the court. When I am present in my mind and in my body, I find that I make the shots that are the ones that need to be made.
When I am not being mindful, I find that all I am doing is hitting the ball back without any conscious thought to where, when or how. You certainly can still be successful and win with just getting the ball back, but there is a distinct difference in the play and how it feels. There is a different sense of the flow of the game when not being present, more like being in chunks as opposed to flowing effortlessly from one point, one shot to another. And I can tell you that I enjoy the feeling of being in every point as opposed to the feeling of watching from the side-lines (even though I am the one playing on the court)!
Mindfulness can also be applied to writing, of knowing where you want to go with your words, the message you want to convey, how you want to say it and the feeling your want your readers to have. Certainly, like in tennis, there will be times when you sit down and can’t think of what to write, or don’t have a flow so, in a sense, you are ‘just getting the ball back’. And again, like in tennis, you can still end up with some decent writing even without being mindful of what you are writing. But that is not the optimum way to write.
Being in a state of effortless flow, being present and in the moment, not worrying about spelling or grammar or is this the perfect word or should this sentence go next or how should I say this, is where I believe inspiration happens. For most writers, it is not easy. It will take practice to get into the mindfulness of writing. You will find yourself getting caught up into worrying about this or that. But if you can practice being mindful, being present, being in the moment, letting go of over thinking and just writing, you will change your writing from watching on the side-lines to being in every point. Get in the habit of letting go and being mindful when you write.
When authors work with Our Little Books to publish their book, part of the publishing package includes having a writing coach and being mentored along the way. One of the coaching exercises is practicing being mindful while writing. If you would like to work with Our Little Books in getting your book out, please contact us!