Myths of meditation
Myth 1: "The goal of meditation is to have a blank mind."
Of all the things people bring to me at the beginning of a mindful meditation workshop, this belief is the one mentioned the most and the one most often listed as why they felt they previously failed at meditation.
Truth is, however, a blank mind is not a mindful mind. Mindfulness is actually attention paid to awareness. In that way it is the opposite of having a blank mind. Total attention on what I am aware of is not something that is possible for me, and so I imagine that is true for others as well. But dipping into, deepening, and broadening my focus on my own experience, and therefore my awareness, is something I can achieve. In this way my mind is actually very full when I am meditating.
I had a meditation teacher once tell me that if we make our goal in meditation to have a blank mind we will reincarnate as a cow! Of course I have no idea if that is actually true, and the psychologist part of me wanted to challenge that statement and ask for the research citation on the statement he made. But the point was, I think, that we are so much more aware than a cow, let's celebrate that in this life time at least, and use our meditation time to become even more aware of our richly complex, dynamic, and amazing, human self.
Remember: we use our breath as an anchor so that we can come back to and refocus our attention on something that is always there, and is neutral in emotion. When you come back to your breath allow yourself to focus on your breath as if you were noticing it for the very first time.
Additional resource: The Mindful Brain, by Daniel Siegel P.S. There is no mention of cows in this book.