Going thoughtless: a meditation

This little meditative script is an extract from my book, Cancer: A personal challenge.


First, you need to determine your major sensory modality. For many people, this is vision. The next most common is words.

Think of someone you met yesterday. Does this person’s visual image immediately come to you? If yes, you are mostly visual. Or think of the following objects: a bagful of potatoes… a packet of plain white flour… a brown horse with a white blaze on the forehead… Your mother’s face when you were a child.

This meditation will work really well for you if you can visualise each of these (or a list of your own). If not, you can still do it. My visual imaging ability is poor. Instead, I think in words. When I played competitive chess, I knew that other players thought of a move, then could SEE the pieces in the new position. I was handicapped by not being able to do this. For me, it was a matter of words: ‘If I do this, he can do that or that or that.’

When learned to be a hypnotic subject, my visual imaging ability improved a great deal, but it’s still a pale copy of what most people take for granted. This is one reason I am poor at achieving a hypnotic trance.

Suppose that your thoughts come as visual images. For some people, they are mobile, three-dimensional technicolour objects. Close your eyes, and allow thoughts to come. See them around you…

Now flatten them. Make them all appear on a wide screen. All your thoughts are on this screen, which fills the whole visual field… Don’t control the content of what you are thinking about, just let your mind ramble where it will.

Next, make the screen smaller. Still, every thought is on the screen, but slowly shrink the screen, shrink it more, until eventually it is like a TV in size.

What is behind the screen?

Nothing.

You can now have a state without thought, in which you think nothing. You pay attention to what’s behind the screen.

Don’t fight thoughts that come to you. Simply allow them to be on the screen, but pay them no attention. They are on the screen, doing their thing, but you are looking at the nothing behind the screen.

It is important not to fight the thoughts, to argue with them, because that gives them attention, which empowers them. They are allowed to be there — on the screen and ignored.

If, like me, your thoughts are words, you can do much the same thing. Thoughts are sentences. Let thoughts come as they will, it’s OK to have them. But each sentence has a beginning and an end. Then the next sentence comes, or, sometimes, the same sentence repeats.

Fine. They are allowed. Let them come and go. But what is between the end of one sentence and the start of the next one?

Nothing.

So, allow the gaps between the sentences to grow. Don’t strive at this, simply allow your mind to become lazy, quiet… Oh dear, I find it hard to write, the gaps between my sentences have grown.

That’s the idea. Whatever thoughts pop into your mind, just let them be. When the sentence is over, thank it and focus in on the nothing.

About Dr Bob Rich

I am a professional grandfather. My main motivation is to transform society to create a sustainable world in which my grandchildren and their grandchildren in perpetuity can have a life, and a life worth living. This means reversing environmental idiocy that's now threatening us with extinction, and replacing culture of greed and conflict with one of compassion and cooperation.
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