It’s unlikely that you haven’t heard of the benefits of meditation. There are gurus and coaches of all sorts touting its benefits: it calms, it promotes focus, it clears your mind for creativity, etc, etc. That is all true, but just how do you meditate—especially when you’ve got a very active writer’s mind?

One way is to forget all this nonsense about clearing your mind, and, I’m sorry, this ridiculous notion that you should think of nothing but your breath. Honestly, who but the most experienced yogis who do nothing but sit on a hilltop can completely clear their mind and just go blank? Certainly not a writer with stories, characters, their family, perhaps their other job, that garden that needs weeding,and the cute new clerk at the supermarket (who are they and might they…. oh, right, breath). I mean, honestly!

No. I am proposing a very different sort of meditation (and I’m not the only one, nor did I come up with it).

Think. Allow your mind to go where it will. Flit from subject to subject and don’t even try and stop yourself. Let it go and enjoy the chaos of your thoughts. The hardest thing will be to NOT write it down or make a list of things to do. Don’t worry, your brilliant idea will come back to you.

An alternative, if everything within you rebels from not writing, is to write everything down. Not just your shopping list, the perfect name for your next character, whoever she might be, and that thing you meant to tell your spouse yesterday but forgot. An idea for a story? Write it down.. A nonsensical jumble of words? Hell, why not? This is free writing. Write! Don’t care to use punctuation? Don’t! Wherever your mind goes write it down. It doesn’t need to make sense, nor stay on one topic.

Yes! This is a form of meditation!

This is allowing your mind to wander, getting all those thoughts thought—consciously. This is sitting for ten minutes uninterrupted and allowing your mind to do its thing without you directing it.

Nothing come to mind? That’s okay.

Listen. What do you hear around you? How does it make you feel? Are those chirping birds soothing or annoying? Is the sound of someone mucking about in the kitchen making you wince? Wince, but don’t get up. It will sort itself out or you can deal with it later. The same goes with the kids screaming at each other (so long as there’s no active bleeding or bones broken).

Allow yourself ten minutes, fifteen if you can. Got twenty? Go for it!

The whole point of the exercise is to clear your mind, allow your imagination and creative brain to open up, give yourself some focus time where you cannot do anything else but sit and think.

I would recommend you do this first thing in the morning just as you are waking up or last thing at night, just as you are going to sleep. Those are when your mind is at its most creative, open times—hypnopompic (creativity in the morning) and hypnagogic (creative in the evening).

The point, if you remember, is meditation, creativity, focus, emptying you over-stuffed mind. Having no thoughts are an impossible dream; allowing your thoughts to flow freely as they will is the goal. And when you finally rise and start your day, or close your eyes and allow sleep to overtake you, you will do so with a clear mind feeling lighter—I promise.

Try it and see how it works for you.