Jach's personal blog

(Largely containing a mind-dump to myselves: past, present, and future)
Current favorite quote: "Supposedly smart people are weirdly ignorant of Bayes' Rule." William B Vogt, 2010

Mindlessness Meditation

My company has been pushing the 'mindfulness meditation' stuff on its employees for a while now. Long story short, I don't really like it, nor its goals, but that's probably because I have a more effective technique (for me) for my own goals. Maybe more effective for introverted nerds too. In particular, during one of the guided meditations I tried several months ago (since I figured I'd give it a shot for comparison) one of the comments was something like (taken from the mindfulness website): "Think of a time you were talking with a friend, spouse, or therapist about an important situation in your life, and when the conversation was over you felt lighter, loved, and cared for." My issue there is: I can't think of such a time! And this was the case for most of the "think of a time..." guide phrases. I'm just too weird I guess. Or I'm a man, mindfulness seems to attract more women than men, it may be because its methods resonate with women more easily.

I call my method 'mindlessness' now to contrast it with 'mindfulness'. But it's really just intentional zoning out, stopping your conscious thinking. It came about during my early teenage years while I learned about Taoism. I certainly have mistaken views about that and I don't claim my form of meditation is necessarily more 'Taoist' than not, though I do like to think of it like that sometimes. In any case, don't a lot of (at least western) meditation advocates like to say meditation is a personal thing you do for yourself and that there's no truly wrong way to do it?

My way is pretty simple, though not always easy. The goal is to empty your mind. Cease your thinking. That's it. A little more elaboration? If you are aware of anything, let it be that you are aware that you're aware there is no other thought besides that awareness and that is OK. Surrender to the Void (or perhaps the Tao) and relinquish your emotions, your body sensations, your very thoughts, to the flow of just Being in a state very close to Non-Being. Achieve nothingness.

In order to facilitate that, it may help to close your eyes, sit or lie down comfortably (as awareness of body sensations can distract you), take deep and long breaths, focus on only your breath until your other thoughts subside, or intentionally make yourself think about something else to let go of the current thought after some period of time (even if it keeps coming back, just think of something else), resist the urge to think 'wow that thought was useful, I should write it down!' and stop to do that (your thoughts are worthless, let them go), avoid falling asleep, intentionally 'lose control' of your thoughts so that the stream can flow and eventually subside... More or less some common meditation practices. But none of that is necessary. If you can do it, by all means zone out while standing outside next to a busy road while staring at a tree.

I did this a lot when I was younger. Now I don't do it very often -- I don't find it necessary. It's harder to get into that state of mind of limited awareness though. Nevertheless I don't feel like I need to do it very often because what I perceive to be the indirect benefits, I already have. (Those benefits include inner calm even in the face of external pressure, acceptance of reality, myself, and things I can't change, recognition of what I can change just by thinking differently, finding my desires and thoughts don't matter very much and therefore limiting their influence...) Most of the time. Stress can build up and then I might feel like I need to step back and disassociate.

But let's say I got in a car crash tomorrow that totaled my vehicle but no one was seriously injured. That really wouldn't phase me. I'd be irritated probably but it's just a vehicle. I'd be most irritated not at the loss but at the new set of inconveniences I now have to do -- going through insurance, and getting a new vehicle, and having to work a bit longer to pay for that. In contrast I expect a more 'normal' reaction is outrage, to seek to blame (regardless of whether it's my fault or not), to tell sob stories to gain sympathy and maybe money... Or maybe initial calm but later crying. Somehow a much more emotional response.

Death does affect me, I cry, but only in private moments when I catch myself reflecting too much on it and not having the desire to shift my thinking. It can feel good sometimes to lose control to one's emotions.

I once wanted to kill my emotions. I don't want that anymore, but I also don't want them to assert themselves too strongly. I like to think my meditations led my personality to develop such that it's easier to be calm and neutral most of the time.

Interestingly this didn't really help with Burnout risk. Perhaps it may even increase it since when your desires and expectations are small but nonetheless at odds with the rest of the world's, and hence not well-fulfilled, it can take a toll.

Posted on 2017-02-24 by Jach

Tags: personal, philosophy, The Void


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