What is meditation? I mean, what actually happens when you sit down to meditate? One of my favorite answers to that question is simple. But I don’t think you’re going to like it. Here it is…
Yup. That's what happens when you meditate. Nothing at all. That’s what meditation is. The art of doing nothing.
The Art Of Doing Nothing
Another way to put it is that meditation is about acceptance—complete acceptance. It means that whatever is happening and whatever your experience is, you do nothing. You just let it be and accept it as it is. You change nothing and do nothing at all in response to everything.
So… how do you do nothing?
Simple. You don’t move—inwardly or outwardly. No matter what happens. No matter how you feel or think about what’s happening, you do absolutely nothing.
Sounds simple, right? But when you’re starting out, it’s not that easy. Doing nothing, for most of us, can feel like walking along a high wire stretched across the Grand Canyon. That’s kind of strange, but it’s true. Here’s what I mean; you can sit down with the intention to relax, let go, and let everything be, and then suddenly all hell breaks loose!
Your heart starts to beat fast, beads of sweat appear on your forehead, your mind suddenly feels like a car rolling downhill picking up speed and you just realized the breaks have been ripped out. Down you go, zooming along, seemingly out of control.
When you’re not accustomed to meditation, or doing nothing, that’s how it can feel. And that feeling turns a lot of people off from meditation.
What Really Happens When You Meditate?
But let’s look a little closer. What’s really going on when you meditate and do nothing at all? You’d be surprised. There’s actually a lot happening that you may not be aware of.
Remember that experience of all hell breaking loose? Well I think you’ll be glad to know, from a certain perspective, that it’s not really you. What you’re experiencing is the conditioned momentum of your mind. Most of us are moving so fast all the time that our normal speed is Mach 10.
If you’re like me, you’re constantly cycling through multiple checklists at the same time. Kids, work, food, workout, friends, errands, partner, and reset. We all manage a lot all the time.
So when you sit down with the intention to let everything be, you simply experience the normal day-to-day momentum of your mind. The moment you become still and start doing nothing, you become aware of that momentum because you are no longer in it. But it doesn’t stop just because you do. And honestly, it can be pretty overwhelming at first.
Why is that? Because you have chosen to do nothing. And when you make that choice, all that noise in your head comes into relief, and you see and experience the manic nature of your daily state of being. But as you practice doing nothing, you also see that you have a choice about participating in that noise.
That's the interesting thing about it. If you do nothing for long enough and just sit there and ride it out, it will pass. It always does. It may take a few minutes, a few hours, or it may even take you a few months of practice.
Discovering A Different Part Of Yourself
But eventually, if you do nothing for long enough, everything changes. And I do mean everything.
When you sit down in meditation and let everything be as it is, your awareness starts to expand. Your mind wrestles with this and that, and you let it be. You start struggling with your mind and then you let that be. You sink into a wonderful experience of release and start wanting more of that and then you let that be. And on it goes.
Again and again, you return to doing nothing in contrast to habitually doing something.
As you get deeper into this practice, you start to discover an entirely different part of yourself. It’s a place of perfect peace, and it’s untouched by the events and circumstances of your life. You experience a sense of total release. And even more, you are filled with the conviction that life is good beyond your wildest imagination.
The less you do and the more you let go, the faster you fall into a limitless expanse.
The gift of meditation is recognizing that the deepest part of who you are is pure awareness. And when you make direct contact with that part of yourself, it’s completely exhilarating. In the end, meditation is really the art of resting in that pure awareness. And how do you do that?
Easy, you just doing nothing at all.