What is Meditation?
Meditation is the conscious process of turning our attention inward. Ordinarily, our mind is focused on external objects– the way that car looks…the way those cookies smell…the way this cashmere feels. Everyone pays attention to what’s happening outside, but very few people pay attention to what’s happening within them. Because of this, we find ourselves attributing our pleasure, and pain to the things around us. Our happiness becomes dependent on external circumstances. Through meditation, we begin to withdraw our awareness from our sense perceptions and focus on what’s happening within us. And this yields many benefits.
Meditation is Concentration
How often does your mind wander throughout the day? How often do you catch yourself thinking about something and not knowing how you arrived at that thought? Do you ever have negative thoughts that seem to come out of nowhere? You’re not alone…
So many of us have these type of experiences throughout our day. Our minds are constantly thinking. We see a picture of a sail boat and it reminds us of some past sailing trip we took, or our desire to buy a sail boat, or our fear of water. Our mind interprets and analyzes everything we see, hear, touch, smell, and taste. The mind amazing! And yet, many of us don’t understand how to control our thoughts and feelings. Consequently, we may experience all kinds of suffering as a result of our mind. But meditation teaches us how to hone the minds power into single, one-pointed focus. By focusing our mind on a single thing–whether it be your breathing, the flame of a candle, or a picture of a deity–we learn how to control the mind, and we experience many benefits as a result.
Benefits of Meditation
Through meditation, we begin a process of learning how to focus our attention when and where we want it to go. Previous to beginning my meditation practice, I would often get upset about the things people would say to me. I would then obsess about it for days, analyzing the many meanings and subtle nuances of what they said to me, and running through the my responses to an imaginary situation that had my heart racing, teeth clenched and knuckles white.
When we do this, we begin to recognize that happiness is not dependent on external circumstances, but on the state and quality of our mind.
There are many different types of meditation and various techniques.
Listen to what my friend Rolland says:
“I always thought meditation was something that took you off to another world. After speaking with Ralph, I came to understand that it’s something I’ve always known how to do. I do it every day when I garden. Just by shifting my understanding to a conscious process, I began to understand things that I’d always known to be true…and that was very empowering!”