Yoga and meditation have been a regular part of my life for over five years.
I came to these practices after injuring myself playing football and finding less dangerous ways to engage and use my body. I have spoken to many songwriters and other creative professionals who have credited meditation as being a tremendous influence in their process.
Here, I’ve tried to deconstruct specific areas in which meditation can lead to creative breakthroughs.
Meditation allows the mind to observe itself. Often times we run around making unconscious decisions, not fully aware of what is affecting us emotionally. By comfortably sitting on the mat with closed eyes and focussing on the breath, the amount of insight we get into why we feel the way we do is incredible.
Not only is it therapeutic, but after a while it can give us a boost of energy that can empower and remind us why we are unique. This energy and awareness helps put narrative and language to our experience, which can lead to more effective and more interesting songs.
It’s been scientifically proven that meditation reduces stress. Although a bit of existential urgency can help with productivity, stress and anxiety can be poison to the creative process. By consciously focussing on our mental well-being, we remove the barriers that block insight and growth. We can liberate ourselves from sickness and anxiety, gaining access to an ocean of space ripe with songwriting material. Not to mention, this can be a huge help with performing!
3: Reminding Us To Stay Disciplined/Inspired
Although I do have friends who say the best songs come to them in their sleep, songwriting is a craft we have to work on. By having a routine and coming to the mat every day to meditate, we can build structure in our lives, which helps make creative challenges seem less daunting. I’m not saying we should sit at a desk and write a song every day, but there could some structured exercises we do each day to stay active creatively.
We’re all different and we all draw inspiration from unique practices. Whenever I have a melody or lyric in my head I like to take a walk and let the idea develop. I know Willy Nelson would take long drives throughout the day when he was inspired to write a tune.
4: Getting in touch with the subconscious
When we meditate, parts of our brain become stimulated that are not normally active in everyday waking consciousness. We sometimes can experience hallucinations, without the negative side effects of psychedelic drugs. I think this is the goal as a songwriter, to not fall back on old patterns, chord progressions and rhymes, but to make something new and stimulating; to learn something about ourselves.
Think of all the music that was being made in the 60s and all the great artists who burned themselves out. In no way do I want to judge anyone who does experiment with heavier substances—they are often quicker and more powerful. However, imagine if you could gain that type of insight just by sitting and breathing!
5: Surrendering the Ego
Getting out of my own way has been an ongoing challenge during the creative process. Sometimes we cling so closely to our work that we overlook and ignore advice from others. It can be difficult accepting criticism, especially in the early stages when the piece is still so close to home, but meditation helps us identify with our higher selves, the part of us that is spiritually aware of all beings in the universe, and can help us recognize when someone may be trying to help but is not communicating properly.
This is easier said than done, and by no means should you share your work in its most vulnerable stage with someone who will not be sensitive to the heart that went into it. But when we do show our work to people we trust, a meditation practice allows us not to fully identify with the piece
Check out our new video below, and keep an eye out for our new record coming out in January
Author: Sam Fuhrer
Editor: Emily Bartran
Photo: Author’s Own