Meditate for nothing

Why should I meditate? This is what I get asked often. The obvious answers are – the release of stress, peace, joy and aliveness in life. This is true. These are indeed the results of meditation. But there is a catch. You cannot start meditation by desiring these goals. The very desire, that is to say, the postponing of attainment, renders the meditation ineffective.

So how do we go about meditating? We need to learn how to do things for the sake of nothing. This art, of just being – we seem to have lost in the modern rush towards mental misery. How do you do nothing? Well, you just sit down, close your eyes and just be with whatever happens. It simply doesn’t matter if you do not feel peace, if you do not sense joy. It matters that you spent time with yourself – with flashes of thoughts that took you far away from yourself. You may come out of a ten minute meditation feeling that you wasted your time – for you did not acquire peace. But this is missing the point for we have already reduced this ten minute meditation to a goal-oriented action.

Meditation is a process-oriented action, which means joy arises from ‘doing it’ or ‘being it’ as opposed to ‘concluding it’. It’s the difference between dancing for the sake of finishing the dance as opposed to the joy of being the movement. This is a fundamental difference. Our deepest moments in life are when we are process oriented and not goal oriented. Meditation is no different.

Does that mean that we give up on our goals? Certainly not. We start with an intention, “I want to dance”. But once the dance starts, you just are in the flow. The dance takes over. You are not there anymore – in fact you are the movement. The persistent emphasis on the goal destroys the joy in the action. The total surrender to action leads you to completion, irrespective of whether or not the goal is achieved.

Therefore, in meditation, we just sit and watch our thoughts. We sit and feel our feelings. We are non judgemental. We do not intend to arrive anywhere. We just experience what is happening in us. The result of this is that we get closer to who we are. And this is something that is worth knowing.

Florence seen atop the Fiesole hill. 2019.

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