Are you able to think about nothing?

I been a hearing a bit about the topic of mediation lately. From what I understand, the aim is to try and achieve a state of intense focus, in which the mind is not allowed to wander. Some people do this by focusing on a particular part of their body (breathing, heart beat, etc), others do it without any such aid and just sort of turn it on, and think of nothing.
Apparently, for beginners, the idea is to try to maintain this state for short bursts. As soon as your mind starts to wander, bring it back again. And then you notice it wander again and you bring it back. Rinse and repeat until you can do it for extended periods. Apparently, once you can achieve this state at will, you will have an enhanced ability to control your mental state in every day life. Or so the theory goes.

I have tried it a couple of times, but have not put too much effort into it. I cannot do it very well. I am actually having a hard time believing that anyone is able to think of nothing for longer than a brief moment.

I am interested in hearing from other people who have tried it and/or claim to be able to do it for extended periods. Also, does anyone know if it is possible to verify if someone does not currently have a conscious mental stream, maybe with an MRI or something? The final question is, whether I have missed the point or misunderstood something. Do let me know.

I don’t know if anyone can truly achieve a state of complete thoughtlessness. It seems to me that this is an impossible state of mind.

The idea is to be mindful of whatever thoughts do enter your mind during meditation and discipline yourself to recognize a new thought and learn to let it go instead of following it down the rabbit hole (as we are apt to do). Rinse and repeat for the entire meditative period. Using aids such as breathing techniques or staring at a point in the room or focusing on white noise or the occasional chime to bring you back to mindfulness are just that, aids, not magical solutions to keep you from experiencing intrusive thoughts.

everything I think about just leads to thinking about something else. I have a form of meditation I do that involves trying to visualize nothingness but within seconds it starts morphing into a space scape of some kind. I can’t achieve thinking about nothing. I frequently am in a state where if you got my attention I wouldn’t have a clue about what I was thinking about so I guess it might be possible I wasn’t actually thinking.

I can’t do it, either. I tend to be either OFF or ON with my thoughts. In yoga classes, I have been known to fall asleep when trying to meditate and have been told I have monkey brain.

The closest I get to any kind of zen state is when I am doing something creative, like sewing or painting.

I can, just not when I want to. Picture the kid in school, the teacher droning on about a math problem. The kid zones out, chances are if you ask him what he is thinking about you will get, “nothing”.

That kid was me and sometimes still can be me. If I try to shift my mind into neutral I’ll eventually ruin it by thinking " I shifted into neutral".

Is it the same as shifting into neutral though? The way I heard it described is it requires intense focus and mental effort to hold the state.
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Yes, I can do it for a few moments. After that, I begin to detect thoughts trying to get a foot in the door of my consciousness. Ultimately, the point isn’t to think of *nothing *all the time; that’s just the starting point. From doing that, and getting a feel for, or knowledge of, how our thoughts arise, we are better able to control our misconceptions and prejudices.

Though I am not a meditation master, I have pretty-good control over the shit my mind thinks up and I’m able to recognize the ways it can distort and corrupt my perception of things. I can also recognize when my perception of things may be a burden to the situation.

Meditation has been the best thing I have ever learned. It took a lot of practice -and even some different perspectives/teachings-, but I find it immeasurably helpful in the quest to have some control over my monkey mind. I don’t think meditation is there for any other reason than to help you control your quick judgements and adverse mental habits. To me, meditation isn’t as mystical as some would have you believe; I find its spiritual and mystical benefits lacking (Don’t tell my Geshe :)). However, the everyday benefit is considerable.

Everyone who meditates has their mind wander. Everyone, even those monks who meditate for hours at a time.

The key to Meditation is that when you notice your mind wandering, you gently bring your focus back, to your breath, mantra, or whatever.

According to this overview of Buddhist “formless meditations” (see also The Jhanas in Theravada Buddhist Meditation ), true “nothingness” is a deep and advanced state of meditation which can presumably only be achieved after decades of dedicated practice, if ever. Think of it as Olympic-level mental weightlifting.

Interestingly, nothingness is not considered to be the ultimate state of mind; that would be neither-perception-nor-non-perception.

In short, “nothingness” is not something with which the beginning meditator should be overly concerned. Beginning exercises involve things like concentrating on an object, as described in the second link, and there are progressive stages.

any time I try to think about nothing, Kramer pops into my head and distracts me.

After reading other responses I’ll change my answer to no.

Trying to think about nothing is kinda like trying to cool something to absolute zero. You can approach it, but you can’t get there.

I can achieve thoughtlessness in most of my posts here. :smiley:

Dead people aside, I don’t think it can be done.

When I try to think about nothing, I start wrestling with whether there is a practical difference between nothingness and true nothing.

I’m married. I’m functioning at Pro-Level.

I am doing it right now!

I can do it.

I was in a lunchtime meditation group at work for a year or so, but there was a … leader talking us through the process for the first few minutes of the half hour session. I did fall asleep a couple of times though.

I can’t do it at night in bed though. My thoughts are all over the damned place.

With practice, the moments when you think of nothing (or think of the one thing you’ve chosen to focus on) can get longer and more frequent. An experienced meditator may spend 1 hour meditating but that doesn’t mean it’s composed of a one interrupted hour of nothing. It’s more likely to be tens of sessions of nothing of varying lengths.

Note that you can still benefit even if you end up thinking during mindfulness meditation. Not by getting drawn into the thoughts but by learning how to notice you’re having a thought, observe it and let it go.

You know what they say about meditation: It’s not what you think.

Mindfulness isn’t about thinking about “nothing”, despite what the thread title says. I meditate, but not everyday. When I do, I focus on just breathing, with the simple thoughts of: A door opens. A door closes. The idea is to rid yourself of distractions, not to think of “nothing”.