In yesterday’s post, I spoke about how beneficial it is to just sit with your eyes closed and do nothing. Today I would like to explore this a bit more and look at why it works so well.
First, what is actually physically happening when you sit with your eyes closed? Well, according to this article, when you close your eyes, your brainwaves slow from the wide-awake Beta range to the “awake-but-relaxed” Alpha range. The simple act of depriving your brain of visual stimulus causes the brain to naturally slow down.
If you close your eyes while lying down, the tendency will be to eventually fall asleep. But if you are sat relatively upright when you have have your eyes closed, you are more likely to remain awake. This facilitates a state of relaxed consciousness. Physically and mentally, this is extremely beneficial, regardless of whether or not you drift off into thoughts.
Psychologically, this approach to meditation is beneficial because it tends to remove the desire to do it right. With a lot of meditation techniques, there can be a sense of trying to perfect a specific technique, and always being a bit concerned with whether or not you’re doing it correctly. When you sit down with the aim of doing nothing, you’re abandoning all control. You’re not taking part. You’re just sitting back and being taken on a gentle ride.
Personally, what I’ve found is that when I just sit with my eyes closed and do nothing, my attention tends to naturally come and go in waves. I’ll drift off into my thoughts for a while, then I’ll naturally come back, then drift off again, then eventually come back again, and so on. The beauty of this is though, in those moments where I naturally come back to the present, it’s so beautifully effortless because I’ve not put any effort into attaining it. It’s just happened spontaneously in between the periods of thought chatter.
But the whole point of Do Nothing Meditation is not to try to find those moments of effortless presence. Don’t try to do anything. That’s the whole point. Let things go their own natural way. Even if you sit for an hour and spend almost all of it lost in thought, you will still have had an hour of relaxed-but-awake Alpha brainwave activity, so it doesn’t even really matter. It’s still a period of awake restfulness, which is extremely beneficial.
Do you see how utterly simple this all is?
If you lie down in a darkened room and do nothing, eventually you will fall asleep. But if you sit upright with your eyes closed and do nothing, you will relax but stay awake. See how easy that is? No need to make anything complicated at all.
And if you make time throughout your day to get into this relaxed-but-awake state, the rest of your awake day will feel more relaxed too. It’s that simple.