Meditation is the art of doing nothing.
I started meditating because I have a lazy streak. Left to my own devices, I don’t want to do anything. Unchecked, this leads to hours of aimless phone scrolling and frustratingly unproductive days. But with meditation, I have a structured way to sit and do nothing for a dedicated period of time.
Working from home has forced me to confront my unproductive tendencies and attempt to reframe them in such a way so that it is easy to do what I need to do. This involves a lot of meeting myself halfway or allowing for flexibility in my structured routine. And frankly, I thought this reframing was pretty clever.
Well apparently, I’m not the only one who needs to trick (coax?) themselves into meditation.
I watched a TikTok video last week where guy in his early 20s was talking about productivity. The point of the video was to convince you to add a second chair to your office or room that you work from, awkwardly in the middle of the room.
This chair (the timeout chair in my head) was to be used when your brain was rebelling against you and unwilling to focus on the task at hand. His solution was simple: if you don’t want to do the task, get up and go sit in the other chair.
He went on to say you couldn’t bring your phone with you and you couldn’t use a smart watch. If you didn’t want to do what you had to do, simply sit in that chair and do nothing. Let your mind wander.
Just do nothing for a bit.
Eventually, he posited, your brain is going to want to do something. If that thing still isn’t the task at hand, remain sitting there. Eventually your brain’s going to get desperate for something to do. Our brains crave tasks and structure, just from the lowest possible point of energy expansion. It’s why it’s so easy to sit and scroll on your phone. Passive stimulation.
He went on to say by waiting until your brain wanted to do the task at hand, you could eventually trick it or pavilion train it into enjoying the tasks at hand, because in this instance, getting to do the task is a reward.
I loved this video and this “life-hack”, but here’s the thing:
That’s basically just meditation.
Meditation teachers will tell you that we live in a distracted world where our mind is constantly pulled in a million different directions. We have a hard time focusing because there are so many distractions, and every time we get distracted it’s easier to find another distraction than to return to a focused state. The purpose of meditation is to return to do nothing; sitting still and breathing for a structured period of time.
And I know they’re the same because by the end of my 20-minute meditation, my brain was screaming for something else to do. It took all of my willpower and focus to remain seated with my eyes closed until the end of the video.
I love doing nothing, but after 20 minutes of nothing, I was ready to do anything else- including tackling my to do list.
But I get it- meditation is one of those words that feels too heavy for people to pick up. We say we don’t have time to meditation, we’re too fidgety, the house is too noisy or we have too much to do. But those are just stories we tell ourselves as we push through the slog of the day to day.
But what if it didn’t have to be a slog? What if you could look forward to tackling your to do list?
If you want to know if my 20-minute mediation was successful, I would say yes. But I wouldn’t say yes because I achieved inner peace for that 20 minutes (it was actually one of the hardest meditations I’ve ever done). But I would say yes because I completed the video (thus gaining the satisfaction of finishing a task), and I flew through my to-do list after
What if you already have the tools you need; you just need to reframe them?