In recent weeks I’ve got incredibly good at sitting perfectly in the moment with no thoughts filling up my head with noise. Time ceases to have any meaning. I will share with you the ‘secret’ of this apparent spiritual success. I’m exhausted. When I stop doing the things that need doing, I often can’t pull any coherent lines of thought together. I sit there. Empty. Present. Nothing.
I can’t say I recommend it. Granted, it is a total loss of self and if you’re looking for ego destruction as a spiritual goal, this, I guess, delivers. I can’t honestly say this bears any resemblance to what a really spiritual person exploring mindfulness would get, I’m not that person, I haven’t a clue how that works.
What I can say is that my inner nothingness does not refresh me. It does not fill me with joy and wonder at the world, because to feel those things I would have to be engaging in some way. I am not inspired by the experience because nothing is happening.
About the only good thing I can say for it, is that this process clearly does reduces the pressures on my body for a while. I can’t think, so I can’t panic, or despair either. I can’t hurt my body with problematic emotions. If all I can do is sit there and be in the world, there is some physical restfulness to it, and it would be fair to say that I am very, very tired.
I can’t say I’m enjoying the experience, but I recognise its happening because it is necessary. Because my body really can’t manage anything else sometimes. During the periods where I can gather enough brain power to ponder, I wonder about the relationship between meditation and life experience. Routinely working yourself to a state of exhaustion is often the way of it for those in poverty, and in marginal situations. Here in the west, meditation is something you do if you have time and leisure, as an antidote to all our de-spiritualising first world problems. The empty mind, it turns out, is so much easier to achieve when you’re feeling more physically broken. Perhaps the self martyring Christian mystics were on to something after all. If you like that sort of thing.