Buddhism is about 2,500 years old. It's an oppressive amount of time. A hundred generations (give or take) have lived, shaped the world and died during that span. No empires and few cities have survived since then.
Looking back in time a fifth of the way there brings you to Leonardo da Vinci's day. Going back halfway puts you in Charlemagne's Holy Roman Empire.
It is an old style of meditation.
But it's not the oldest.
There's a school of meditation that's still alive today. It stretches back much, much further.
Forget 2,500 years – we're talking tens of thousands of years. It might be as old as the culture that created it, which goes back 40,000 years.
If not more.
It comes from the people native to the Daly River region in the Northern Territory of Australia. They call this practice dadirri and it is breathtaking.
The Aboriginal people describe it as having a silent awareness. Meditators sit for hours amongst nature, listening to the wind and water.
You might think this sounds like mindfulness. It is mindfulness, with a twist.
Buddhism teaches you to be present with the experience. Whatever your senses detect is for you to process with your full attention. No distractions, no judgments, until you lose yourself in your awareness of now.
Dadirri teaches you to listen to nature. Experience the senses – again, without distraction or judge – with silence and full appreciation.
It's a minority distinction, but an important one. Listening in this way is active and interactive. You do not just Observe nature. Instead, you learn everything you can from her.
Meditation improves your problem-solving abilities, even more than simply thinking about the challenge. Why? Because meditation opens your mind to new patterns of thought. If the solution does not lie in your conscious mind, then it must lie in your unconscious.
I have not seen any studies on this, but my guess would be that dadirri beats regular mindfulness.
When your mind is open and you pay attention, you realize that nature can teach you a lot about your solution. The wind, rain, rivers and earth hold your answers.
Do I mean that literally? Or am I speaking metaphorically and that spending time in nature inspires you?
It does not matter. Just know that if this idea sounds like fuzzy hippy nonsense, then you need to go deeper in your meditation trances. Your brain will not speak to you in words but in metaphors. If you need determination like a river, flexibility like the wind, intensity like the sun or stability like the earth, then that's how it'll speak to you.
And if you do not get an answer, all you'll have done is reconnected to nature deeper than you have in your life. That alone makes it worth learning.