TO BE CLEAR, you are not about to read a piece that urges you to find your inner white author in order to be a more mindful writer. That way lies madness. White space, in literary terms, occurs when the writer of a piece chooses to break up the text and allow there to be more

space

around a word, or group of words. White space is a signal for us to slow down. The shift in pacing creates an opportunity for reflection, to feel deeper and harder. As Mary Oliver observes in the pocket of white space she fashions in the poem “October”:

it pulls me

into its trap of attention.

One of the gifts I have found as a writer who meditates, and as a meditation teacher for writers, is how mindfulness practices act as white spaces in our lives.

Good art needs internal

space

so that ideas can flow into words. Meditation and mindfulness create that space because they awaken you to the present moment. To what is happening right here, right now. It’s a mind that isn’t picking over the carcass of the past, or anxiously rehearsing the future. When you’re in the present you are awake to yourself and the world around you. It’s an invitation to pay attention.

Mindfulness allows you to show up.

Do me a favor: close your eyes and only focus on the sounds around you. When a thought arises (and a million will, so fast it will make your head spin), just acknowledge it and let it go. A good way to picture this is to imagine each thought as a leaf that’s floating down a fast-moving stream. You acknowledge the thought, but you don’t hold onto it. You let it go right on by. Close your eyes and try it for five minutes, and then meet me back

here.

We often wish for more hours in the day, but we don’t need more hours — we need more space,  moments that signal us to slow down, to find the emotional beat. Filled with nothing and, paradoxically,

everything.

 

Heather Demetrios is the author of several critically acclaimed young adult novels and the editor of the upcoming anthology of epistolary essays Dear Heartbreak: YA Authors and Teens on the Dark Side of Love.