Trying to block out all outside noises and thoughts — to think nothing and sense nothing — and sort of hold that vacuum in place — to maintain this blackout of thoughts and mental function — is a ridiculous activity.
A General Note about Failure
Anything you feel you are failing at can be traced back to some bullshit someone told you about yourself that you chose to believe.
It’s not you.
If something that’s supposed to be so wonderful and useful doesn’t seem to be working for you, resist choosing to believe that there is something wrong with you. Instead, seek out more information, a second opinion, a different perspective — you will likely discover that you were given bad information to work with.
Empty-Minded Meditation: You’ve Been Misinformed Over the years, so many people have expressed to me that they try to follow basic instructions on how to meditate but they fail miserably right out of the gate because they can’t empty their minds.
I can’t stop thinking!
From about ages four- to nine-years-old, I often had trouble going to sleep; I would go downstairs where my parents were watching TV and announce to them “We have a problem.”
“I can’t sleep,” I would whine, already worked up and frustrated. “I can’t Stop Thinking!”
Thoughts Can’t Be Switched Off
I would self-diagnosis my failure to sleep as an inability to totally become un-conscious. I believed that the problem was that I couldn’t turn off my thoughts, with a master-switch.
My Daddy would suggest that:
When you can’t Sleep, try instead to Just Rest
This is basically a pretty useful attempt to reset expectations, to escape a Failure Feedback Loop, to shift perspective when you discover you’re blocked.
I have some additional thoughts on the dangers of using the word “try” -- but that’s a pretty big tangent.
Sleeping Is Not a Lack of Consciousness
We are saturated with information -- our brains are designed to constantly process information, seek out problems, and create solutions from the information. Our minds are incredibly active even when we sleep. Sleeping is not a lack of consciousness.
Mediation Is Not a Lack of Consciousness
Meditation is not sleeping -- it’s not lack of consciousness either -- it’s not about emptying your mind. Stop believing this Empty-Your-Mind crap.
Your mind will hopefully never be empty — this is neither a desirable or realistically achievable state.
The goal in meditation is not to empty your mind. The goal is not to become unconscious. The goal is to achieve a different perspective -- to shift your consciousness -- to view your thoughts from a different position within yourself.
Fill Up Your Mind Instead
It takes a lot of energy to block out all sensory input — but this is actually easiest to accomplish when your mind is fully engaged, or focused on something.
Which is more distracting? Reading a book in a crowded cafe or reading in a dead silent room with only the sound of a clock ticking?
Trying to block out all outside noises and thoughts — to think nothing and sense nothing — and sort of hold that vacuum in place — maintain this blackout of thoughts and mental activity — it’s a ridiculous activity.
When you meditate, you are not willfully inducing a coma or vegetative state — how would that be useful?