Are you a Buddhist monk, living in seclusion on Mount Jiuhua? If you’re reading this article, odds are you’re probably not. So why would you waste valuable time doing essentially nothing?
Meditation takes many forms, but its essence is clearing your mind of the barrage of thoughts that fill it, and mindfully focusing on your body and breath. Not doing anything with your hands. Not trying to solve any problems. Just allowing thoughts to pass by while you mentally observe them non-judgmentally. How pointless is that?
Meditation is goal-less
One of the pillars of most meditation is that you are not supposed to be trying to get anything out of the meditation. Although feeling more relaxed, mindful, and peaceful may (allegedly) be a result of meditation, you are not supposed to go in with that as the goal. In fact you are not supposed to have any goals when you meditate. The meditation is supposed to be meaningful on it’s own, without any other external objectives.
Without any goals, how do you know if you failed or not? How do you compare your success against others like you love to do? How will you even feel good about yourself for meditating if you are not trying to accomplish something?
Meditation is a time waster
Meditation is almost doing nothing. You certainly can’t multitask while meditating. You sit, stand, walk, or otherwise position yourself to be able to focus on your body and breath, and you take a step back from all your thoughts. During that time you cannot do anything else. You cannot type up a report or work on a paper that’s due. You can’t even think about how to solve a work problem, or mentally go over definitions for the next exam.
Even though you don’t have to meditate for a long time to reap the benefits, that is still time that you are not spending doing something else. You could spend that time working toward that next professional certification. Or you could be putting the finishing touches on a big project. You could even do something unproductive like watching Netflix. There are countless ways that you could be spending your time instead of meditating.
Meditation makes you care less
By meditating, you clear you thoughts and refocus your attention elsewhere. After you meditate, the things that you obsessed over beforehand may seem less important. The bug in your program may not seem like the end of the world anymore. Finding the perfect ending to your script doesn’t stress you out as much. If you stop obsessing about these things, you may stop spending your valuable time thinking about them and running them through your head over and over and over.
Are you a monk?
Meditation puts things in a new perspective. It forces you to slow down and take a mental step back from the inner dialogue going through your head at all times. It refocuses you from whatever you have been obsessing about: work, school, relationship issues, or health problems, and turns your mind inward where you can get a reprieve from the thoughts.
There are doctors, authors, and regular people that will recommend it because it can relax you, reduce stress, and have other health benefits, but is that really worth the 10-15 minutes a day that you will spend meditating? And what if in that you time you would have finally figured out how to solve the problem that has been in your head all day?
Take a shallow breath. Tense up your shoulders. And keep thinking about that problem that you’ve been obsessing about all day.