Written by Padua Junior Kiera M.
On the first day of school this year, I had no idea what I was walking into when I stepped into room 406. I was expecting a hard class of honors physics full of math and stress, which I was somewhat right about. What I wasn’t expecting, however, was to learn a new skill that would change my life. I am a junior at Padua Academy this year and I’m generally an anxious person with a bit of a control issue. Everything I do must be done to perfection and when I can’t control the events in my life, I freak out. One of the ways that meditation has helped me so much is through teaching me how to calm down and focus on my breathing whenever life gets too hard. Another way that meditation has impacted my life is through helping me with my creative writing.
A huge part of my identity is that I am a writer. The summer between my freshman and sophomore year of high school, I wrote my first novel (three hundred pages in the span of three months). Needless to say, I didn’t stop and figure out what was going to happen next. I just wrote it as quick as I could and then I was done. During my sophomore year, I went through six drafts of that story and piled up about six rejections from literary agents. Finally, at the end of May 2019, I was given an opportunity to enter into a short story writing contest about space, my two favorite things combined. The day before the story was due, I had something written but I hated it. I decided that night to scrap it and restart. The problem? I couldn’t come up with a single idea that I liked. Not even a day before the deadline, I climbed out onto my roof and meditated, focusing on nothing but the air surrounding me. I had no idea that I was meditating then. I thought meditating meant you had to be sitting cross-legged muttering “hmm”. Nevertheless, the idea came. I wrote and submitted it in less than twenty-four hours, titling it INCONCEIVABLE at the last second.
It won first place.
Meditating has changed the way I write. It has helped me to stop and be more conscious of the words I’m putting on the page in front of me. Learning how to breath and focus this year has also allowed me to decrease my anxious thoughts and calm down, especially in these chaotic times. Junior year has been one of the most stress inducing and busy times of my life, so getting the tool of meditation came at the perfect time.
The night after I submitted the short story, I began my second novel. However, instead of rushing through the story this time, attempting to get my thoughts on paper as fast as I can, I stopped and meditated to work out how it was going to lay out. I wrote whatever scene I wanted to instead of just putting in filler to get the story moving to the scene I actually wanted to write. Over the summer, especially in August, I didn’t have much time to write and work on my story due to cross country and summer work. And once school started, I fought with wicked writer’s block. I couldn’t write without getting really frustrated and feeling like I should have been doing something else. It was strange to me because writing was the one thing I enjoyed doing, the one thing that didn’t feel like a chore.
And so the school year kept moving and I kept working, not really writing but still thinking about my story a lot. When we started meditating in physics, everytime I went to clear my mind, the characters would come floating up into my consciousness. And like magic, the words came back. It was slow at first. I would be sitting there, focusing on feeling my breath leave my nose and relaxing my body, and my main antagonist would pop up in the back of my mind. For about a month, every time we meditated in physics, new ideas would flow.
It took a long time to get back into the rhythm of writing and even now, six months after my writer’s block started, I still have difficulty writing like I used to. But thanks to meditation, I kept thinking and working on my novel, even if it was in my head. Recently, I’ve reverted to using paper and pen instead of typing and honestly, it’s been easier to write. Whenever I want to write but have trouble focusing or thinking, I turn off everything and meditate until the ideas come to me. I write stories in my head, pretending I’m submerged in the words and what’s happening to the characters is happening to me during meditation sometimes. Using the skills I’ve learned from meditation, like the body scans and observing what’s around me, not only have I flourished in my writing, but I’ve improved as a person.
Here is a link to INCONCEIVABLE: https://dehumanities.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/McCormick-Short-Story-Submission.pdf