You may be a seeker who has tried everything. You’ve followed gurus of every stripe, taken hatha and kundalini yoga, been initiated into Transcendental Meditation and even done Zazen, facing a blank wall with your eyes half-shut. Nothing has quite clicked!
Before you throw it all out, you might try a radically different approach to meditation. After all, you figured out that enlightenment means meditation. Why not just meditate on NOTHING?
Absurd, you say, how can you concentrate on nothing? Impossible? A waste of time? Hold on! You may be pleasantly surprised.
Most of us conceive of meditation as an intense mental exercise demanding superior powers of concentration that only a wretched introvert can do. We have heard about counting breaths, gazing at a mandala and silently reciting a sacred syllable. We are supposed to concentrate on our mantra and let nothing distract us.
Of course, just the opposite happens. Our monkey mind faithfully springs into action. It has been described as a drunken monkey, stung by a wasp with Saint Vitus Dance. It won’t ever stay still. It is like a three-year old boy throwing a tantrum who refuses to grow up. The more you try to suppress it, the worse it gets.
*Related topic: How To Meditate For Beginners: Sleep Better, Reduce Stress and Anxiety
Actually, this is an obstruction to true meditation. Meditation is about breathing deeply, relaxing your body and allowing whatever wants to come up to come up. In meditation, you go from the doer to the observer. As the observer, you experience every sensation as a sensation, every emotion as an emotion and every thought as a thought. As you let it be, it lets you be.
Meditation: as you let it be, it lets you be.
We all feel guilty whenever we think about meditating. Can we afford to give up 15 minutes, 30 minutes… even an hour every day? Think what we could do with all that extra time! Even worse, we could end up falling asleep, when we still have so much to do. That would be most embarrassing, and a disaster! Have you finished all your homework yet? If you don’t do it now, when will it ever get done?
Few people think about scheduling meditation, or starting out with just a five-minute block that you practice for a month or two until it really starts working for you. You may not arrive at the classic “relaxation response” in five minutes, but you will definitely be more present. Apple Watch now has an application that gets you to consciously breathe for just a minute or two. That’s all it does. Just take five deep breaths or so.
Meditation on nothing is the purest form of meditation. All the other forms lead to that. It is all about pure presence. Whenever you are truly present, your life starts to flow. Your relationships are smoother, including your family, your friends, your job, even your childhood chums. One of the greatest gifts you can truly give anyone is to be totally present for him or her.
The more tuned into the present, the more you give up judging and evaluating people. You accept them for who and what they are.
Meditation is a way of being that allows daring new possibilities to emerge. You learn to stop imposing your will on everything and everybody. As you become more and more the observer, you are comfortable giving up your insistence that conditions be such and such, or that a circumstance turns out a certain way. The woman or man you have your heart set upon may respond, or he/she may not. Life goes on. Life, itself, is a miracle. It is precious.
If you are deeply religious, this will provide the context for God to actually talk back to you. You learn to profoundly listen, to empty yourself. In the process, you tune into the inner voices, one of which may be sacred.
With meditation, you start tuning in, not turning off and shutting down. Inner peace makes possible the deepest realizations and the most breathtaking revelations. I know this from actual experience. You will be stunned by the deep insights and inner knowing that you will find nowhere else.
Most of all, meditation on nothing opens the way for you to find out Who You Really Are. You gradually give up the notion that you are your body and your nametag. From there, you become comfortable that you are not your mind, either. You discover the ability to live in present time, only to discover that you already live in eternity, each moment unique, lasting forever. Pure Being, Consciousness and Bliss, that is what you are! With meditation, you can actually experience this for yourself.
Meditation on nothing doesn’t require you to learn a foreign language, worship somebody else’s deity or sit rigid until your seat bones crack. You don’t work harder; in fact, you start to play. You let your thoughts start thinking themselves. After all, they do that anyway. You just assumed for the sake of convenience that YOU were the thinker.
Whenever you simply witness, you observe what is happening right in front of you, or deep within you. You are meditating on nothing. In the Far East, Nothing, depicted by the color black, is highly prized, as you will see in Japanese art. Black is positive, not negative. Under the influence of Buddhism where form is void, and void is form, it is clearly seen that “nothing” is actually everything! Nothing is the matrix of creation, out of which everything emerges. Just think of the Yin / Yang symbol.
With meditation on nothing, you surrender to the present moment, letting go of your agenda. Whatever happens, happens. You may have strange thoughts, feelings, sensations. So what? This too shall pass.
Are you ready to give up all effort and allow things to happen by themselves? This meditation is that easy!
With this form of meditation, you just have three basic steps.
1. Sit down in a comfortable chair, or cross-legged with your spine upright, if you prefer.
2. Close your eyes and take several deep breaths, which can include alternate nostril breathing, if you want to make it fancy!
3. Now simply notice what happens. When a feeling comes up, see it as just a feeling. When a sensation comes up, see it as just a sensation. When a thought flashes, see it as just another thought. When you stop being here and remember what you did yesterday, see the memory as a memory. When you dream what will happen this coming weekend, see the dream as a dream.
You continue until the alarm goes off, or you notice five minutes, 10 minutes or 15 minutes has elapsed. You center yourself. Open your eyes and get up.
Chances are you will feel a little more refreshed. You can do this once or twice a day. After a few days or a few weeks, this may grow on you. You then have finally found a way to meditate that works for you.
I bet you will eventually find that nothing is more fulfilling!