The Interplay Between Writing and Meditation

Meditation gives us access to our internal lives—to images, language and memory. That’s exactly what a writer needs.

“As writers all we have is our consciousness, what we see and what we witness,” says author and Kripalu presenter Dani Shapiro. “So for someone approaching the page, meditation—and the access it gives us to what is really going on—is an instrument of tremendous clarity.”

Writing is tough, and it can be lonely. In her book Still Writing: The Perils and Pleasures of a Creative Life, Dani writes, “we resist, we procrastinate, we veer off course. But we have this tool, this ability to begin again. Every sentence is new.” So is every breath.

Dani’s Kripalu program, The Stories We Carry, explores meditation “as a way of coming to know what is in our minds, and what is in our hearts, and also to quiet the mind so we can approach the page with less fear, less noise, and less trepidation.”

In 2008, Dani attended her first Kripalu retreat where she met and studied with meditation teacher Sylvia Boorstein. She says the experience was revelatory.

“Sylvia taught metta (loving-kindness) meditation and there was something so resonant for me about offering these blessings to oneself and others,” Dani recalls. “If our hearts aren’t softened, we can’t connect or feel that compassion for anyone else.”

They quickly became friends. Sylvia became a mentor and then her teacher. Now, many years later, meditation is an integral part of Dani’s writing, her daily life, and her teaching process. For her, meditation practice is not just about making time to sit but about developing equanimity, what Sylvia defines as “a mind that can catch itself after it loses itself.”

Whether we’re struggling with the blank page or time on the cushion, writing and meditation practice both invite us to come back and begin again.