What is Meditation About Anyway?
As meditation enters the mainstream, it can often be distorted into various forms. This leads to certain confusions regarding what meditation is and isn’t. The following post is not a judgment on other practices one might engage with their attention but it is meant as a means of clarification.
What Meditation Is Not
- Meditation is not about zoning out.
- I can’t tell you how many people have said to me, “Yeah I should meditate more, I could really use some time to just zone out, you know?”
- Meditation is not a trance state.
- Many assume meditation is about entering a specific state.
- That may be a state of peace, a state of love, a state of bliss, or a state of sleep.
- Meditation is not a guided journey.
- Guided meditations can be useful in their own way but I wish people would find a better word than “meditation.”
- Guided contemplation may be more fitting.
What Meditation Is
- Meditation is about focusing your attention.
- That sounds like work, doesn’t it? Whenever we are told to focus, it seems like a shitty time.
- But does someone need to tell you to focus when you are watching your favorite TV show?
- Does someone need to tell you to focus during sex? (I hope not.)
- Does someone need to tell you to focus when you’re savoring a delicious meal?
- The kind of focus meditation practices is the same focus we engage when we are wholly present and engaged in what we are doing.
- At first this may feel like work because you are focusing without the enjoyable objects to focus on.
- Soon you discover that there is bliss and happiness in the act of focusing itself.
- Meditation is about the absence of tension.
- You could call this relaxation but remember that focus is at play here too.
- Often people see relaxation as being the absence of the need for focus.
- During meditation you are both relaxed and focused.
- I think of this as focus without tension.
- Typically when we focus, it is intense and there is a degree of “pressure” behind the energy of focusing.
- In meditation, we are calm but we are also focused.
- Meditation is the practice of patience.
- Patience and peace are one.
- Patience in its purest form isn’t about waiting for the future but rather not measuring the present against the future.
- Then you can actually be patient.
- Time carries you onward regardless, being patient means being present with the flow of time.
- Meditation is about becoming acquainted with formlessness.
- There are many meditation techniques. Focusing on a certain spot on the body, focusing on breathing, focusing on images, focusing on mantras.
- Eventually your focusing becomes focused on focus. Awareness of awareness rests in awareness.
- As you practice more, you use less technique. That comes with experience.
- The more formless your meditation, the more continuous it becomes.
- Eventually it doesn’t depend on eyes open or eyes closed, on body sitting or body standing, on mind thinking or not-thinking, and so on.
That’s just, like, your opinion, man.
It is. I’m not saying all of this because it is permanently true and anything else doesn’t count. I am stating this to help clarify what is a meditation practice and what is practice for meditation. Hopefully it was helpful.