Another in our Meditation Monday series! Writers, you might be particularly interested in this. I’m especially glad to have so many people willing to talk about their meditation practices, in part because I think it’s so important for folks to recognize how varied they are.
When and why did you start meditating?
It came about as a part of my yoga practice. It kind of happened on its own, or thanks to my pranayama teachers.
How did you learn about meditation? (From a group, book, video, other practitioner?)
From various classes in Buddhist meditation, both before and during and after I’d already learned pranayama. I believe that my first meditation class was in NYC when I was about 12 or 13. It’s always been a sort of part of the air I breathe given my upbringing.
What type of meditation works best for you?
Observing my thoughts and gently nudging them, I suppose that’s somewhat vipassana influenced. Sometimes it helps me to do guided meditations. I was using the headspace app until quite recently when it came to feel obvious or redundant or just distracting.
Is your meditation connected to a spiritual, religious, or philosophic tradition?
Buddhism but also yoga practice.
What would you say to someone who expresses interest in meditation, but claims to be “unable” to do it?
There’s no such thing as “successful” meditation. It’s about the process not the goal. Trying is the same as doing.
What does your meditation practice do for you? That is, what are some of the specific benefits or consequences you experience, long or short-term?
It enriches my creative process in terms of conditioning my mind to be more pliable and responsive to stray ideas and also confident in chasing weird ideas. It lessens the self-shut-down criticism that can make the creative process stagnate. It helps me deal with conflict and anger. Long term I’d say it’s kind of self fulfilling. It’s always there for me as I’ve conditioned my mind to know how to do this kind of “exercise.”
Elizabeth Kadetsky is author of a memoir, First There Is a Mountain (Little, Brown), a story collection, The Poison that Purifies You (C&R Press), and a novella, On the Island at the Center of the Center of the World (Nouvella). Her short fiction and personal essays have been published widely–recently in Glimmer Train, Antioch Review, and New England Review. She is assistant professor of fiction and nonfiction at Penn State, and her words can be found at elizabethkadetsky.com.