There are all sorts of different meditations and philosophies out there; some of which are completely unrelated to how we think about meditation today. The word ‘meditation’ is now somewhat tainted. It’s a tiny one-word hyphen. It doesn’t really mean anything; it is used to label various forms of meditation.
So what is it?
This is a question we are going to answer by not defining it.
Let’s see. Why define something when the definition is, more or less, self-evident? Why doesn’t it matter?
When something is undefined it is meaningless. We cannot point to anything with a simple, in-your-face definition. We have to feel it with our inner-knowing, which is the capacity to know the reality of the very consciousness that we call subject. This is the basis of the Buddha’s revelation. It’s the reason for the ‘way’.
When you think about it, the way is really pretty simplistic. Most forms of meditation start from a simple place of silence and sitting in the lotus position. These acts are composed of a simple formula.
Sit in the lotus position — focus on nothing else — observe the breath — be aware of everything — breath in when the mind is focused — breathe out when the mind is not focused — breathe in when the mind starts to float — breathe out when the mind focuses on something else — return to the breathing pattern.
Simple. Not complex.
It’s also about your environment, the experience you want to have, the setting you want to create and being with the forces of nature.
And there is no other important way to create this experience.
The important thing is that you do this practice, for a period of time at least, and then you observe the results. The nature of the results are like the surrounding environment. Just let things be and let nature create it. Whatever is happening, let it be and allow your mind to be there.
Now, don’t think that the practice is just something you do once in a while and then carry on with your life. You take up the practice of meditation as a way of life, like any other quality in your life. As you continue to practice you tend to lose the habit of practicing. Your mind tends to drift. It might go off in one direction or another, but when you do sit down and do the practice, you tend to come back to the original place where you let it all go.
It’s all about learning to be aware. The nature of the quality of being is experiencing everything. It’s a way of living life.
We can talk about meditation forever. We can talk about how one form of meditation can be more beneficial than another. We can talk about how it can be as simple as pranayama breathing, or as complex as focusing on a form of mantra or japa. This is not what makes the practice great.
The thing about meditation is that it helps you be aware. It doesn’t demand your attention. It helps you be in the world.
This is the source of the experience of Buddhism. It’s not the manifestations of what you do, but the awareness of it.
Most times when you see or think of Buddhism you are thinking of the cultivation of enlightenment and it’s form of mindfulness or jhana. It’s not the practice. If we have a general idea of what Buddhism is, we are probably thinking of practice and what you do when you are on the path. We’ve seen the words of the sutras and we know that the goal is to come to the other shore. In order to do that we have to take care of our mind.
This is the importance of what we are doing here. There is no nature within yourself that is different from the nature that is outside of you. We are trying to experience what it is to be beyond the influence of your thoughts, to become detached from the way your mind works and to become aware of everything that surrounds you.
When you sit down and do the practice and your mind lets go, and you begin to be here and now and everything else around you, you begin to be present in your own body. You may not be aware of what that body is doing. It may be doing something that you don’t even know is going on. It may be doing something that’s hurting you. You just continue to be here and now, aware, observing, breathing, experiencing.
There is no way to compare meditation to something that might appear to be good for you. It’s not about the results. It’s about practice.
You have to put yourself in the place of nature. You have to really experience the world and observe it closely.
You can take your meditation as it is. It’s a way of living. The knowledge that you have is a way of living.
Go beyond the boundaries of where you are and into the depths of nature. See life in its many forms.
Notice how you feel.
Listen to your mind and watch how it goes. Breathe. Watch it. Become aware. See all of life. That is Meditation