What Is Meditation?

Adrien Field
Adrien Field

I once read a joke:

Two men meet on the street.
One asks the other: “Hi, how are you?”
The other one replies: “I’m fine, thanks – and you- how is your son? Is he still unemployed?”
“Yes he is. But he is meditating now.”
“Meditating?” “What’s that?” the other asks.
“I don’t know. But it’s better than sitting around and doing nothing!”

Meditation is a great mystery to many. But in reality, there is nothing simpler – and yet it is precisely for this apparent simplicity that people go on misunderstanding it.

Meditation happens when you become silent, when thoughts cease. The curtain of the mind falls away and you are left with a feeling of resounding emptiness. But it is not emptiness in a negative sense, it is more like a vastness, a spaciousness. Within this space one feels a sort of simple blissfulness. There is nothing to do, nowhere to go. You just are. Sometimes when I meditate and my breath begins to take on a specific rhythm of its own, I feel a wave of physical pleasure, almost like an orgasm wash over my entire body. When I return from this state, I am totally refreshed and see the world with clear eyes. I move more slowly. I am aware, awake.

With meditation you can confront the repressed emotions lurking just below the surface in your subconscious. These emotions, desires, anxieties manifest in your daily life and go on creating patterns of thought and action which dictate your destiny. Through meditation you dive into yourself. Meditation can accomplish in a year what psychotherapy might take ten years to uncover. And unlike therapy, which goes on creating more neuroses, like a hydra monster, with meditation you bypass the mind completely. You just drop the whole rotten thing. In its place something very beautiful is uncovered.

There is no specific technique for meditation. People ask, what am I supposed to do? What am I supposed to see or experience? Meditation is the art of doing nothing. The aim is not to experience anything other than your self, the true self which is pure, immortal consciousness. You just sit quietly and watch your breath, watch your thoughts. You may keep your eyes open or closed.

Before you can meditate, you first must be able to concentrate. Focus the mind so that you are able to sit for five, ten minutes without getting up or looking at the phone.

In the beginning thoughts will certainly be there. It is not a problem, just observe them; let them pass like clouds in the sky without judging them, without any effort to try and stop them. Slowly, slowly, the thoughts will become less and less until you are as empty as an open horizon. Then, and only then, can the divine start to enter you, or rather can you start to uncover that which was always there, just a few levels below the surface.

Meditation is a clearing away of the accumulated debris and rubbish you go on collecting in daily life. It is like power washing, a spring-cleaning of the mind. It is the only method for self-transformation – it can cure depression, anxiety, insecurities. All of these are burned away in the silence of meditation.

To meditate takes a tremendous amount of courage. Most people go on avoiding in every way possible the process of self-introspection. They are afraid of what they will find below the surface. They are afraid of the quiet. So they drink, they go out to party, anything to distract themselves.

But if you go on, you will find an oasis of calm inside yourself; something unalterable, solid bedrock on which you can stand and be totally secure in your being. Heaven is not something far off, high in the clouds with an eternal harpsichord soundtrack. It is within you. Just have to be silent enough to observe it. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

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