What does meditation want from you? Why should you engage in this “nothingness” that is spoken of? Why should you even try to “empty your head?” What does it exactly mean? For quite some time I wrestled with these questions. I had a deep attraction to yoga and meditation from about the time I was nineteen, yet I struggled with establishing a regular practice because stability and routine was beyond my grasp at that point in my life. I lacked the discipline I needed because I was living in an emotional hurricane.
It took me years to understand that, put simply, the idea is to live in the present moment. After over a decade of searching I have begun a regular practice and I am learning how powerful it can be to sit and dispel the mind of thought, emotion, desire, suffering, aspiration. I sit in the Vipassana tradition. This word literally means “to see things as they really are.” I don’t want to be cloudy. I want to be clear. Meditation helps clear that foggy lens.
This concept suggests that we are often engaged in seeing things “as they are not.” Our minds are full of memories and subjective judgements from the past that may link us to negative belief systems. If we have psychiatric histories our memories may be painful. Our histories may feel broken. I have found that when I was within the deep suffering some of my interpretations of the past seemed more negative and tarnished than they actually were. Yet my level of suffering was complete, and it felt very real and imminent. This is because I had no ability to focus. I lived in this pain state, or, as Eckhart Tolle calls it, the “pain body” for years.
We also may be overwhelmed with false concepts regarding the future. We may become engorged in fears and anxiety. This regret about the past and anxiety about the future can make it difficult to live in the present, which is what we are called to do when we meditate.
When I sit I seek to become fluid, like water, concentrating on my breath. I sit to literally “empty the loud silence.” I often live in an internally loud place. It becomes hard to think. I don’t like it there. I sit to become the verb in quiet. I sit to be a part of now. I sit because even though it is a discipline, it is also a joy. I sit because afterwards I want to celebrate. I sit because it makes me happy.
Meditation is the river and the pond. It wants nothing from you. It is empty with or without you. I like to remember that, as David Lynch said:
“The thing about meditation is, you become more and more you.”