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meditation

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Zen master Shōhaku Okumura explains why meditation is 'good for nothing'

An entirely different way of thinking about meditation.

Photo by Ian Stauffer on Unsplash

There is no cliff.

Most of us are at least somewhat aware of the vast benefits of meditation. It’s now fairly common knowledge that meditation can reduce stress and anxiety, improve focus and sleep quality, and even increase imagination. And with dozens of guided meditations accessible online, it’s easier than ever to incorporate the practice into our daily routine.

With such potential for creating positive transformation in our lives, we might find ourselves placing lofty goals on what exactly our meditation should provide: whether that's some sort of enlightenment or to simply come out of it feeling better. This belief that meditation should give us something profound could even feel intimidating, keeping someone from trying at all.

Take it from a Buddhist monk himself—perhaps the very best thing that meditation is good for is … nothing.

In a video provided by Intellectual Wave, Zen master Shōhaku Okumura discusses the concept of Zazen, which refers to a sitting meditation in Buddhist tradition. To practice Zazen is to sit without paying any attention or expectation to gain anything. That’s it. No more, no less. No visualizing, no listening to the wind, nada.

Okumura’s teachers called this type of meditation “good for nothing.”

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