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Is Silence Next? (Meditation mind changes)

Updated: 4 July 2021

September 2013

My mind isn’t ready to do anything. It’s like I’ve been broken.

I have a very hard time creating anything now. I have a very hard time finding a reason to do anything now.

There isn’t any motivation, drive, want, reason, urging, feeling, to do anything.

I’ve tried over and over to find some passion. I’m passionless except for brief bouts of exercise, and that fades away when I’m done, or doing it. The drive for that is very weak during those times, and is only briefly strong enough to get me out the door to do it – and then it fades.

It is getting tiresome to make my mind do something. Maybe that’s it. It is like I’m forcing the mind to do in order to get things done on my websites, with my little business, with life…

When I stop making the mind do – it just sits there in silence. It is completely empty. It doesn’t even enjoy the silence, it cannot enjoy anything. It’s passionless, emotionless, thoughtless, and almost mindless.

There is still something there, but what it is, I couldn’t guess. Something still sees, but there is no interpretation of what is seen. Something hears. Again, no interpretation.

Memory still functions to record these sites, sounds, smells though. Even in the mindless state, memory is working because I can recall it later – there isn’t much to recall, but I recall the sound or sight or smell, but not the experience of it – just the occurrence. I just remember it happened.

The mind obviously wants some long periods of silence. For what – who knows. There isn’t any want that I can be aware of. I just say that the mind wants silence because as it is – the forcing of it to continue to think, to do, is not satisfactory. It’s tiresome. It’s not bringing peace or resolving anything.

Will it resolve the silence and bring back a thinking mind again? Will it dissolve further and I’ll basically sit here in a puddle of my own drool because I can no longer will my mind to work at all after I let it go silent for a long time?

Questions with no answers. I just feel tired of making the mind do.

I feel like it is time for another state.

I don’t know what state that is. I don’t know what I’m moving toward or away from, but I just feel like there must be something else, another step forward or back that can be.

There might be nothing at all… maybe my mind has just broken and there is nothing more that will change about the situation. I’ll either force it to work and get things done and suffer the idea that it’s being worked too hard – or not.

It seems like it might be time for silence for a while…

8 thoughts on “Is Silence Next? (Meditation mind changes)”

  1. Hi Vern,

    Thank you for writing descriptions of your experiences on this path. Your two mediation books and blog posts have been very helpful to “me,” especially in understanding that it’s okay to let go of the strict, ritualistic structure usually associated with meditation to allow this to proceed naturally – whatever “this” is.

    I look forward to following your journey on the path.


    P.S. It’s interesting how the mind fought throughout writing this short note to fill it with stories of how it got here, etc. Yet, another part of the mind felt so bored (?) with the idea of putting that stuff into words that it gave up. This play-every-side of the drama in the mind is pretty amusing when it’s seen.

  2. Hi Bryan,

    Thanks for your great comment.

    There is this back and forth movement in the mind to either push really hard and do something incredible, or, sit in silence and see what happens. I’ve been fighting against the sitting in silence mode for a few years now. Maybe the total number of hours I’ve let silence rule – is 10 hours in these years (cannot even remember when this started now – 4 years ago? 5?).

    There is an underlying knowledge, feeling, whatever one could call it – that silence is where it is all going. Having a family and responsibilities, I’ve been fighting that – pushing it away so I can do more.

    For these 4-5 years since the silence or “flatline” of my mind has occurred, I’ve not been concerned at all with attaining some enlightenment as Buddha was said to have done. Questions about whether it exists, whether its a worthwhile goal, just disappeared some years ago and haven’t returned. However, what is part of my mind now is this idea that this silence is rather annoying to my “doing” mind. What has happened to the old mind? Why can’t I create like I did before? Before the mind was quiet, there was this non-stop churning out of ideas for books, songs, poems, articles, inventions, things to do, things to accomplish, things that were fun, things worth doing, things planned for the future.

    Now when I stop doing whatever it is I’m making me do, there is nothing but silence. Flatline, dead to the world, silence.

    None of the above, but no pain or discomfort over it either. When in the silence, that’s all there is, and there’s no wanting for more or less – it’s just here and I sit like maybe a fish does when it stays in one spot in an aquarium for hours at a time, seemingly content.

    Have I become fishbrained? lol.

    I don’t know. No answer inside this head.

    Anyway, thanks for your comment, you helped me get out a bit more than I mentioned in the blog.

    Now, on to your P.S.!

    It IS interesting how the mind does that. At some point, the mind loses the wants, needs, desires, and lets them go. Disillusionment with things of the past. Disenchantment is probably a better word. You become disenchanted with ‘doing’ and with many of the other things you used to “like”. It is like the mind is bored with, or doesn’t see a point in, doing some things any longer… perpetuating the wants and desires any longer. It sees the futility of it all. Eventually everything drops away and it becomes very easy to sit and focus on the breath. It’s a cleaning house effect the mind goes through after some good meditation / jhanas – if you’re getting any of that yet. It’s part of the process.

    And yeah, funny how the mind sees it – knows what is going on because it remembers the way it was in the past. The mind is able to look at all sides of the situation and see it for what it is… In the past, you had the typical human way of functioning going on. Today it has changed, and is changing, and the mind reacts quite differently. There is no judging about it – one way or the other, just a knowledge that this is the way it is now, and there is less of ‘me’ in many interactions throughout the day. The ego, id, me, i is slowly dissolving and going away.

    To some, me included, this was a fascinating, and scary time. It was then (1999) I realized that my social life would be, was, changing drastically and I could no longer be, I was no longer, the Vern I was before. There was a time of immense silence that came, silence of speech, thought was still quite active. There was just no need to say things anymore. The mind observed situations as they were, and was somehow wise about not saying anything that would cause more pain… and yet, sometimes a sentence was offered to help the person communicating with Vern.

    Quite a weird time, and my marriage failed quickly at that point. It is what it is, nothing good or bad about it, it was inevitable…

    I’d be interested in hearing your ‘story’ Bryan, if you ever feel like telling it. You can do a video, sound recording on your phone, or write it up, whatever suits you. Send by email to: aimforawesome at gmail.

    Thanks again for your note Bryan!

  3. Dear Vern,
    I somehow landed here, on your blog … it was truly an “accident”, if there is such a thing. (Now my mind is battling with itself about whether or not i should explain the events that dropped me here on your blog, writing this comment … just as Bryan speaks of in his PS! However, my reason for battle isnt that my mind feels bored about giving the details; rather, it’s afraid of being too verbose and boring you with extraneous info).

    I confess that i dont know anything about you, so what i’m feeling right now is quite unfounded, and based solely on this one blog post i happened upon. So please forgive me in advance if i’ve got this all wrong. But, as soon as i began reading your post, a feeling of alarm and concern came over me, right to my heart. I heard myself thinking “oh no! No, this isn’t good!” I was actually surprised and a bit puzzled at the deep and genuine concern i was feeling for you, considering i know nothing about you at all (except that you wrote a book on meditation, which just showed up on my kindle fire as a recommendation based on my prior purchases … which i clicked on for more information … which led me to your author’s note … which, when i clicked on the link to “read more”, catapulted me to the web where your blog began loading. There — my mind found a way to tell you how i found you after all :-)).

    To cut to the chase, here’s what i want to ask you: What you describe in your post regarding your lack of any feeling whatsoever — e.g., “There isn’t any motivation, drive, want, reason, urging, feeling” … “My mind isn’t ready to do anything. It’s like I’ve been broken” … “I have a very hard time creating anything now. I have a very hard time finding a reason to do anything now” — isn’t that all a classic example of major depression?

    I realize that you do not judge these things as good or bad, but i have not yet mastered that skill, of non-judging. And, my heart — not my head– is judging your lack of feeling … anything … as very heartbreakingly sad, and a serious cause for concern. I am feeling so much for you right now i have tears in my eyes! Perhaps i am feeling what you’re not able to feel right now?

    Ive gone on too long … please know that i am here caring about you. Even though you are a total ‘stranger’ to me. (Just typing the word ‘stranger’ didn’t feel right somehow).

    felt deep empathy for you, because your post pretty much sums up the story ive been living for many years now. But i dont see it as okay … i

  4. Hi Maureen,

    Thanks for writing. Let me lay your fears to rest! There is no depression at all. Nothing like that. I’m happy… blissful, every single day I wake up. There is no sadness with my life, things going on in my life, you know, no more than anyone else has.

    The silence is a function of meditation. The mind seems to have finally chilled to a point where it doesn’t concern itself with doing – when doing isn’t needed. Meaning, I can work, take my daughter to the park, go exercise, etc… and the mind can engage when needed. However, when I stop engaging, it reverts back to the baseline nothingness state and stays like that. It’s just a sort of unmoving state. No happiness, sadness, worries, problems, or thinking of anything except sometimes the thought – “WHAT IS THIS?” What is this going on there, this nothingness… ?

    So, please don’t give another thought to it – no problems here! And, thank you for your concern – you have quite a bit of empathy for others you don’t even know. That’s a nice character trait…



  5. Vern,
    I’m 57 and have recently decided that I have dithered away far too many years of my life half-serious about spiritual practices and really want to get down to it in whatever time is left. I’ve chosen to focus on the simple, direct samatha form of concentration on the breath, with the working assumption that with sufficient dedication (about two hours a day at this point), this may lead to life-changing states of happiness and peace and that when the time comes, I can then leave this life with some sense of “mission accomplished” or “life well-lived.” But when read here the account of someone who has been through that entire route, lost the personal self along the way, and come out the other side, I have to wonder, even while thanking you sincerely for your honesty.

    What I’m hearing is that this baseline nothingness state you’ve ended up in is an utter neutrality beyond valuation. That it has nothing to offer life. and that in your case this a problem of sorts for a living, breathing being.

    Thanks, Mick

  6. Hi Mick,

    I am not sure I’d call it a problem… the state I’m in is different. I am not the same person I was… but, I’m still fully functioning when I want to be. That sounds funny. There is a peaceful mind when I let everything else go, and there is a mind consumed with things when I push it to go there. It’s a bit odd, and different from any state I’ve had before, but I am able to go through life happily and without much of the angst that I had before. I’m not sure I’ve been through the entire route. I don’t really know where I am. It’s a good place I think. It isn’t a place I ever imagined, but not really concerned with getting some other place. This is fine…

  7. I really like your site vern, very inspiring and helpful to read. As for this particular article, it seems like you’re experiencing a state (if I can call it a state) similar to the experience described by the Cristian mystics. They describe, a ‘Dark Night’ of the soul. A time of spiritual dryness which occurs after many experiences of rapture and joy and freedom. This is illustrated in the Old Testament in the plight of the Jews who, having escaped the torment and slavery of Egypt, wind up stuck crossing the dessert for forty years.

  8. Hi Carl,

    yes, it does sound like that a bit… Now we’re two years past the date when I wrote that. The mind is still ready to sit still and I haven’t let it do so. I’ve kept pushing to create more online business projects, writing more, shooting more video and photos. If I stop writing in the middle of this and stop chewing my fig – the mind rests. It’s on instantaneous flatline. The ears work, they can still hear The Smiths, “Strangeways Here We Come,” album on youtube playing. The fig seed is still in my mouth. My hands are still on the keyboard, and there is no thought about any of it. There is just the direct experience of it all, but none of it fires off a thought.

    So, basically same state as two years ago and the 4-5 before that.

    Interesting, but I haven’t met anyone with anything similar. If you do, please give them my email or this site address and ask that they write me. 🙂


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