Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Time Management Tuesday: "Killing The Buddha," Or Protecting Method And Process

First off, let's go over again why meditation has a connection to time management, particularly time management for writers. Managing time requires self-discipline. Meditation helps develop that. From last year's discussion of Kelly McGonigal's The Willpower Instinct:

McGonigal even explains why meditating helps with self-control and attention, something I've been hearing about for years, though no one felt a need to explain why it would work. Meditating, it appears, develops the prefrontal cortex, the portion of the brain that deals with impulse control. Good impulse control helps people stay on task with goals. Find meditation difficult because your mind keeps wandering and you have to keep bringing it back to the breath? That's actually good, according to McGonigal. The effort to do that develops the brain just as physical effort develops muscles.

Okay, that brings us up to this past Saturday, when I attended a five-hour meditation workshop sponsored by Dharma Drum Mountain's Hartford group. During the fifth hour, our monk leader was taking questions about the meditation we'd just done. Someone brought up seeing images of the Buddha while meditating.

The monk's response was that his group's particular meditation method didn't involve imagery because it can be distracting. When you have a meditation method, you need to eliminate anything that distracts from it. If that means eliminating Buddha, you eliminate Buddha. You kill the Buddha to protect your method.

Turns out killing the Buddha is a thing in Buddhism.

Writers develop a writing process just as meditators develop a meditating method. Writers need to eliminate anything that distracts from their process just as meditators have to eliminate anything that distracts from their method.

And that is why you frequently hear of writers practicing meditation. They're hoping that learning to kill the Buddha and protect their meditation method will give them the ability to protect their writing process as well.


Nancy said...

5 hours of medidation seems like quite a committment - good for you! Funny, I was just reading the part in Stephen King's ON WRITING where he talks about getting rid of distractions and 'literally' closing the door on the outside world. It works!

Gail Gauthier said...

No, it wasn't 5 hours of straight meditation. It started with 15 minutes of the monk figuring out that he couldn't use the microphone system. Then the rest of the morning was spent on different kinds of meditation positions and some exercises. Then there was over an hour for lunch. There was walking meditation in the afternoon.

I would guess that there was only 10 or 15 minutes of what people traditionally think of as sit-on-a-pillow meditation.