Having a blank, empty or quiet mind is one of the most common assumptions people have of meditation. That’s the assumption I also had before I truly understood meditation.
So is it the goal? If you meditate and aren’t getting this quiet mind, does that mean you’re not meditating right? Are you doing something wrong if you feel calm, then busy thoughts keep popping into your head?
The answer is simple, and important to understand and accept in order to enjoy meditation. Every person and every meditation is unique, no matter how experienced the meditator is.
Typically, the feeling of stillness of mind comes and goes during a meditation session. The busy mind generally will start to relax after the first several minutes of meditation – I have heard the statistic that it takes the average person 15 minutes to get into a relaxed, calmer state. Don’t expect the session to slowly calm your mind and then stay there in a state of nothingness and bliss! It is completely normal to move in and out of stillness. The important thing is to always recognize when a thought has popped into your head, and then gently bring your focus back to your meditation.
In my experience, and in talking to my students who have made meditation a life practice, find that over time, the quietness comes more often, and for longer moments during meditation – but again, this isn’t a rule or shouldn’t be expected. Mindfulness meditation is simply about ‘being‘, not trying to achieve something special.
So the answer to the question is: “Yes, but sometimes, not all the time. Allow stillness to come and go.”
The best attitude to have is to enjoy these moments of stillness, even if they are only for a few seconds at a time. Savour these moments. Pay attention to when they happen and notice if your experience changes over time.
I hope this has been helpful. When someone understands and accepts not to expect a totally calm mind, they enjoy meditation so much more.
So savor meditation, accept it exactly how it is, and see what it brings to you.