Perhaps you wonder: Is sitting meditation really that important of a practice to develop? I mean, really, you may be thinking, all I’m doing is, like, sitting there, doing nothing. Well, yes. And no. Classic Zen answer right?
On one hand sitting meditation is a matter of doing nothing in the sense that we’re not involved in something externally active. But on another hand we’re actively engaged with our inner environment and let’s face it, there’s a whole lot going on in there. With such a vibrant, tumbling, churning, cycling, ongoing inner landscape it seems a poorly inadequate sentiment to think that sitting meditation is a matter of doing nothing.
The editor’s summary of a study published in Science magazine in July of 2014 states:
Don’t leave me alone with my thoughts
Nowadays, we enjoy any number of inexpensive and readily accessible stimuli, be they books, videos, or social media. We need never be alone, with no one to talk to and nothing to do. Wilson et al. explored the state of being alone with one’s thoughts and found that it appears to be an unpleasant experience. In fact, many of the people studied, particularly the men, chose to give themselves a mild electric shock rather than be deprived of external sensory stimuli.
The abstract states:
In 11 studies, we found that participants typically did not enjoy spending 6 to 15 minutes in a room by themselves with nothing to do but think, that they enjoyed doing mundane external activities much more, and that many preferred to administer electric shocks to themselves instead of being left alone with their thoughts. Most people seem to prefer to be doing something rather than nothing, even if that something is negative.
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