Meditation: The Art of Doing Nothing

With enough practice in meditation, your mind will feel as calm as this landscape looks. (wholeheartedretreats/Pixabay)

For almost all of your waking life, you're probably doing something. If you're in class, you're listening to lectures. If you're at work, you're doing whatever your job description involves. If you're hanging out with friends, you're doing whatever it is you usually do together. If you're multitasking, you're alternating between doing multiple things. Even if you think you're "doing nothing" (nothing productive, at least), you're probably still doing something - tooling around on your phone, zoning out watching something on the TV, or something along those lines.

Meditation, on the other hand, is the art of truly doing nothing. Ideally (and in practice, once you get good enough at it), your mind shouldn't be occupied with anything. Clearing your mind with meditation does wonders for stress, reduces your potential for being distracted, and hones your ability to focus on tasks at hand.

Starting out with meditation is simple. Pick a good time, such as in your morning routine, and set aside five minutes, to start out. Find a good posture for sitting, set a timer for those five minutes, find a (preferably empty) place to stare at, then start.

The process of meditation, at least for starting out, goes like this. Looking at your selected blank spot on the wall, breathe slow, deep breaths in and out through your nose. Focus on your breath, as if it's a thing pulsing out and receding back into your lungs. This is the only thing you should be paying any attention to while you meditate. However, the goal is not to actively stop any intruding thoughts, such as thoughts of something you need to do that day, or a song that gets stuck in your head, from happening. Instead, let them run their course and pass from your mind. It may help, while you're meditating, to picture a small pond or pool of water that ripples whenever a thought appears. It's no use trying to stop the ripples, as disturbing the water will just make it ripple more violently. If you let the ripples run their course and die out, though, the water returns to stillness.

Carry out this process until your time is up. Don't pay any mind to how much time you've been doing it for - your timer will let you know when you're finished. Don't fret if you end up not having found many periods of mental silence, either - even if your mind's only quiet for 15 seconds in those five minutes, you've still succeeded. As you get more and more used to meditation, and find achieving a quiet mind becomes easier, try increasing the time you spend meditating to 10 minutes, then 15. The benefits can only increase as your skill does with it.