Expanding Your Happiness

meditationI registered for the “Expanding Your Happiness” Meditation Experience from Deepak Chopra and Oprah Winfrey as a way to deal with stress. It started on Monday and runs for three weeks. I’m hoping it will get me into a practice of mindfulness meditation, which is supposed to rewire you brain so you can focus better. Heaven knows I can use help with that. I have a bad habit of multitasking, and often end up spending too much time on trivial things (like cat videos on Facebook) rather than the activities that need my attention.

Like writing.

I’m planning to release a novella each month for the rest of this year. Since I’ve also got a day job, there’s no time to waste if I want to meet my goals. The last novella in the series is a Christmas story, and the holiday isn’t going to wait for me to finish the book. So it’s critical for me to stay on track.

Will meditation help? I don’t know, but I’m giving it a try.

Strangely, the last couple of times I meditated, it seemed to increase my stress level instead of lessening it. I started out in a state of bliss, and became more and more tense. It might just be a fluke, but I wonder if I’m wired that way. Because I’m so practiced at getting into my writing mind—my intuitive mind—maybe meditating actually takes me out of that state and into a more concrete, sensory one. And then, all the real world troubles come into focus.

My imagination is a happy place. I’m in charge. I have the power to resolve any problem. When people fight, they make up. If they disagree on a fundamental level, they learn to live and let live.

The real world is full of problems I can’t fix. So I do the next best thing—I write love stories with happy endings. Hopefully, they’ll give a lift to the readers’ day, and make their troubles slip into the background for a while.

And maybe that’s what expanding your happiness is all about. Finding something that gives you hope when the world looks dark around you. Living in a fantasy world isn’t the answer, but we all need coping mechanisms. Sometimes, books help. They give us perspective. They take us out of our own heads so we can see challenges from a new angle. As an author, I hope that’s what I give my audience.

How do you cope with stress? Have you tried meditation? Does reading fiction help you find solutions to real-world problems?


About AndreaJWenger

Andrea J. Wenger is an award-winning writer and editor in Raleigh, North Carolina. She specializes in the fields of creative, technical, and freelance writing.

Posted on August 13, 2014, in Blog Posts and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. I’m like you, Andrea, the couple of times I’ve tried Yoga or meditation, I’ve come away more frustrated and stress out. The quiet allowed the voices in my head to yell a little louder about all the things I needed to be doing instead of sitting on my butt! Walking seems to help a little bit for me. Whether it’s on the treadmill or with a group of friends, I feel better afterwards. Let me know how your program goes!

  2. I’m with Tracy on this one. Exercise helps to clear the cobwebs and help me focus. I applaud your efforts with the class, and your lofty goal of one novella per month. Just thinking about that gives me stress. Best of luck!

  3. I really appreciate this post, Andrea. A few months ago I came across a meditation technique that has massively helped my stress levels. And then to parrot the other girls, regular exercise and watching my diet, etc., have proven helpful stress-busters, too.

    I’d love to go on a meditation retreat sometime. Should add it to my bucket list, I suppose.

  4. Hi Andrea! Thanks for the post. I practice guided meditation almost every day for 15 minutes with a Lucinda Bassett audio. I find that it’s a good thing for me to do just so that I have those same minutes every day in which I try to focus on something other than my gazillion thoughts about life. It has taught me the correct way to breathe and to let the random thoughts just pass through and let them go. I do Yoga when I can as well to keep my body limber enough for riding. I completely understand your explanation for the meditation increasing your stress level. Makes sense to me. You’ll find whatever it is, other than writing. Or maybe riding IS it for you…

  5. Thanks for the comments, everyone. Walking helps me de-stress, too, but it’s tough to do in the heat of the North Carolina summer. (I’ve got my exercise machine, but it’s not the same.) I feel a little better knowing it’s not just me that finds meditation stressful. I’m going to stay with the program for the full 21 days and see what happens. I’ll report back in my next post!

  6. Exercise is my zen, including yoga. If I don’t exercise, I get cranky and stiff and sore, and getting out of the chair and into a sweaty place ~ running, yoga, spinning, gym, anything, actually ~ always loosens up the story ideas in my brain. I do have a meditation app but rarely use it. I think I’m too antsy for sitting still in a chair or on the floor. I’d rather get up and sweat. Good luck with finding your destresser!

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