Over the years, we have heard plenty of people remark that whilst meditation might very well have countless scientifically proven benefits, it simply isn’t for them. Their reason? That their mind is too active and they personally could never think of nothing.
This is a very common misconception about meditation that we would like to help clear up.
There are two problems with this line of thinking. First of all, let’s get something straight here…we all have a monkey mind jumping erratically from thought to thought – up to 70 000 of them per day! It is simply the human condition, and it is a fallacy to think that you are unique in this way. The second thing to realise is that the aim of meditation is not to think of nothing. In fact, thinking of nothing is contradictory in and of itself. The very act of thinking implies that your brain is actively engaged in cognitive processes, so how could we possibly ‘think’ of ‘nothing’?
Further still, there are types of meditation like ours which are EXTREMELY easy, super enjoyable and highly effective! Effortless Meditation is one of them.
Think of Effortless Meditation as a game of sport, with you as the referee:
- On Team A, you have your thoughts.
- On Team B, you have the anchor of the meditation (be it your breath, an image, a mantra, etc).
- The ball represents your awareness.
Since you are the referee of the game, you aren’t concerned with which team has the ball. Your role is to show up so the game can be played and ensure no-one starts fighting in the process.
Each game can look very different:
- Team A (your thoughts) has the Ball (your awareness) the majority of the time
Thoughts are expected in meditation. As you begin to relax, your para-sympathetic nervous system is triggered. This is your body giving itself the opportunity to rest and digest. Like dreams during REM sleep, thoughts during meditation (often abstract and nonsensical) are your body’s way of dissipating stress that has been built up in your physiology over time. They are a normal, important part of the Effortless Meditation process.
- Team B (your anchor) has the Ball (your awareness) the majority of the time
Sometimes you might find your awareness spends more time on your anchor. But don’t be fooled – this does not mean you had a ‘better’ meditation or you are ‘improving’. In fact, it might mean that you aren’t meditating correctly using the effortless approach at all. Your awareness spending more time on your anchor in a given meditation is just one possible experience you might have.
- The Ball (your awareness) oscillates between Team A (your thoughts) and Team B (your anchor)
During meditation, it is extremely common for your mind to consistently go between your thoughts and your anchor the entire time.
- The ball (your awareness) is thrown off the field
This refers to when your awareness isn’t on your thoughts or your anchor. It is what we call ‘effortless awareness’: the spontaneous experience you have (often without realising it) where both your thoughts and your anchor is left behind. Again, it is not the goal of Effortless Meditation and does not indicate you are improving or ‘good’ at it. The only thing that matters is that this is a potential by-product of meditation which can happen from time to time and feels nice when it does. Don’t get attached because you can’t make it happen.
The key is to remember that you are simply the referee in this game, so you don’t particularly care who it is that has the ball. And the rules aren’t complicated. Your goal is not to win or lose, your goal is simply to blow the whistle and let the game be played!