Waking up to Wisdom
In Stillness and Community

Is Meditation Boring?

--by Andrew Cohen (Mar 01, 2011)

Q: I have been practicing leave the mind and emotions alone, but I often find meditation boring.

A: In order for the experience of meditation to be endlessly fascinating and infinitely compelling, you have to be interested in 'nothing'.  Day in and day out, we are constantly pre-occupied with one thing or another, always busy with 'something'.  But if you want to experience profound meditation, and a depth that liberates, the objective of your attention must be nothing -- absolutely nothing whatsoever.  If you are attempting to meditate, but are not actually 'interested' in nothingness, then of course, you will be bored.  That's just like sitting in a darkened movie theatre, waiting for a film to start.  Eventually you will experience frustration and boredom.

But imagine that you are sitting in that movie and instead of waiting for that film to begin, you become interested, passionately interested, in the darkness, in the nothingness.  There is 'something' in the nothingness that once discovered is infinitely compelling, and absolutely absorbing.  There is an ungraspable mystery there and there is nothing boring about that mystery.  Nothingness is what existed before the universe was born.  How could something come from nothing?  That is the greatest mystery.  That's what you would be interest in, as you contemplate the darkness.  The more deeply you are able to penetrate the nature of nothingness, the more the mystery of being and non-being, of life and death and that which transcends both begins to reveal itself.  There is more to nothing than meets the eye.
Once you truly become interested in the darkness, you wouldn't want the movie to start.  You might actually be disappointed when it started, because it would take you away from your meditation.
--Andrew Cohen

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Previous Reflections:

On Feb 28, 2011 Mary Oseko wrote:

The meaning in nothingness that means something worth following!!!

imagine nothing that is something...!!!

On Mar 1, 2011 Haricharan Das wrote:

Dear Friends        With respect, this essay  has a few very tricky ideas, the concept of nothingness in particular.   This essay reflects clever intellectual gymnastics more than mature internal experience.     With respect,  when investigating a subject as subtle as meditation,  one should reference a yogi deeply steeped in the practice.  The yogi knows the science of meditation and speaks very carfully, all the rest is merely pleasant coffee house philosophy.    Works written  by  Swami Sivananda, Swami Yogananda (SRF) , Swami Rama, Ajahn Chah,  Ajahn Sumedho (the short list)  are of great value.

To make it easier I'll list some current meditation texts of value:

Yoga Psychology: A Practical Guide to Meditation    By   Swami Ajaya, Ph.D

The Theory and Practice of Meditation     Edited By   Rudolph M Ballentine  M.D.

Happiness   By Matthieu Ricard

Why Meditate?     By Matthieu Ricard

Seeking The Heart of Wisdom: The path of insight meditation By J Kornfield & J. Goldstein

A good start with correct knowlege will give you success

All the best, Haricharan Das

On Mar 1, 2011 Sanjay Dave wrote:

That is superb!!! I like the way you describe the meditation with darkness.   Great..Thanks.....!!!

On Mar 1, 2011 Lorijo Metz wrote:

Excellent perspective. Thank you.  

On Mar 1, 2011 Ram wrote:

Thank you for your reflection!

On Mar 1, 2011 Andrew M. Prokopis, Psy. D. wrote:

i guess i would suggest that the implication that "there is something in the nothingness" again engages the mind to create something out of nothing, and that in of itself is a distraction and a move away from meditation. i would agree with the earlier suggestion that reading what accomplished meditators have to say would be extremely helpful is helpful. i would also say that the essay is a bit of an intellectual gymnastics, and well-done, and i get where you are trying to go, but it feels to me that one has not gone far enough away from all that to really get close enough to where one needs to get to so that one is not easily still led astray from the path toward that meditative state. will there ever be words that adequately or accurately depict, describe, reflect what it is we all want to say and bring back from that place!!?? no fault on the writer of the essay; but the mind is a tricky thing to play with; and i have always been taught, that the mind makes a great servant and a lousy master. and i would add the former's list readiing Sant Kirpal Singh Ji.

On Mar 1, 2011 Rajesh wrote:

This is a beautiful passage. 

On Mar 1, 2011 Edit Lak wrote:

What a beautiful expression of an internal theatre.

The picture show of consciousness, where entry is free - to awareness

The epic journey into one’s own theatre show, where;

Nothingness is truly the greatest ‘Somethingness’


Boredom??, Hmm, ‘boredom’ would just be a readjustment of ones seat, a continuum of the experience , so you can take a breathe and  get comfortable for the show.  

Lights cameras – Action  :-)


Thank you Mr. Cohen, what a fantastic pre-movie analogy


On Mar 2, 2011 ganoba wrote:

Meditation is an experience. it is not always profound. it would sometimes be boring too.

Whoever promises that one would find something wonderful at the end of it is making a false business pitch.

Meditate if you wish to, but the moment you expect something to come out of it, you have missed the bus.

On Mar 3, 2011 Dinesh wrote:

Last night, in place of the circle of sharing, we had a surprise guest speaker -- Cynthia Jurs.

Cynthia has practiced in the Tibetan Vajrayana and Zen Buddhist traditions for 25 years and in 1994 received dharma transmission from Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh to teach Engaged Buddhism. She directs the Open Way Sangha in Santa Fe, New Mexico, which draws from all wisdom traditions to teach an approach to living in awareness in relationship to the Earth through dedicated practice, ceremony, retreat and pilgrimage. In 1990, she met a 106-year-old Tibetan hermit and meditator, who asked her to bring healing and protection to the Earth by filling and burying Earth Treasure Vases in places of need around the world.  To date, 23 of the 30 vases have been planted around the world, and the journey of the next seven is unfolding now. 

Audio of Cynthia's talk (mp3), with stories from her journey:

On Mar 3, 2011 Linesh wrote:

"The law of increasing returns in diminishing time."

This is law of accomplishments is attained by unceasing, continuous practice. As you practice constantly and with attention, you tend to attain skill. As you attain skill, your efficiency increases. Efficiency is another name for achieving in a shorter time what you used to achieve in longer time. Height of inner efficiency is to realize and to achieve things in a moment, which is the shortest fraction of time.

For example, when you learn to meditate, you tend to achieve a stage of relaxations -- quietness -- towards end of say, half an hour. When you practice for years, it happens just in 10 minutes and when you practice more, it happens in just the moment in which you close your eyes. Your inner states change in a shorter time.

What happens inside, also happens outside in the manifest world. With practice, you tend to achieve in the world the things you seek, in a shorter time as compared to time it took when you were not practicing.

A new factor gets introduced over time, that is, your effort decreases in achieving same thing. Youexperience a process of least resistance to get what you want. More returns in a shorter time with lesser effort is the net gain. This is what this law is all about.

On Mar 6, 2011 sharada wrote:

conscious breathing will gradually take us to nothingness that's a fabulous world.

On Mar 8, 2011 pratibha gramann wrote:

that was great hearing Cynthia's talk.  Pratibha

On Jun 3, 2011 Maranatha wrote:

How can the mind contemplate darkness? The Bilble admonishes us to meditate only on the Word of God i.e. the Bible(see Joshua 1:8). Also, the apostle Paul puts this notion beautifully in Phillipians 4:8. In Psalm 119:105, we understand that God's word is a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our paths

I am convinced that the counsellee finds the advice to meditate on 'nothingness' , 'boring' because that is not the way human beings were created to use their mental capacities.


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