The aim of meditation is not, and we repeat, not to think of nothing.
Put simply, thinking of nothing just isn’t possible. The very act of thinking implies that your brain is actively engaged in cognitive processes, and nothing implies no thing is happening at all.
The aim of meditation is to allow your body to repair itself.
Why does your body need repairing you might ask?
It all comes down to an interesting mechanism in our body called the fight/flight response. It is a response which is both life-saving and life-threatening at the same time.
When physical danger arises, our brain does this wonderful thing where it prepares our body to either fight as hard as we can or flee as fast as we can: life-saving. What this looks like in real terms is a racing heart beat, sweaty palms, upset tummy, flushed cheeks, and dry mouth. Sound familiar? That’s because it probably is all too familiar, and we bet you haven’t been in that many life-threatening situations either.
You see, our mind perceives danger and it automatically triggers the fight/flight response. The key word there being perceives. In today’s age, this might mean our boss using an undesirable tone with us, being stuck in a traffic jam while late for an appointment, or needing to speak in front of a crowd of people. Our body can’t quite tell the difference between an actual danger and a perceived danger so it responds in the same way. And those reactions we mentioned before were only the tip of the iceberg. What you don’t see is your digestion slowing down, your blood vessels constricting, your blood pressure increasing, your blood glucose levels increasing, your muscles tensing up, and your immune system being suppressed. The worst part is that it takes 20-60 minutes for our bodies to return back to normal once the ‘threat’ has been alleviated. That results in many hours of the day being spent in this state, which as you can imagine has all sorts of long-term health ramifications.
So as you can see, the aim of meditation is far greater than nothing. It’s about giving your body the time and space it needs to simply repair itself.