If you want to know why you should meditate, this small note about meditation may help you.
Meditation is a curious thing. It’s been part of my life since the latter part of my first decade in this realm. I’ve experimented with many methods, and found my way through books and recordings, and reflecting on my own experiences as a meditator and on the meditative state. I’ve had some odd experiences in the internal realm, and I’ve been unexpectedly thrown into that realm by external experiences, too, like quantum healings.
Don’t let these things stop you from reading. I am not an expert on meditation. I have never studied meditation with a mentor or guide. I have never sat in an ashram with others and meditated together. In contrast, my own journey has very much been my own.
One of my friends recently commented that I must be a master. When I laughed the idea away, with a comment about being a student and still at the beginning, he replied, ‘That’s what a master would say!’
And so here we are.
To your question. If you are asking why you should meditate, there is no answer for you.
Yeah, I know. My apologies if you feel misled.
I can give you a stream of benefits of meditation that I have experienced, that others have experienced, that have been studied by “science” wanting to know why people get introspective (because spirituality isn’t sufficient). I can tell you that you may end up feeling less panicked, feeling less anxious, feeling more control in your life, gaining more perspective, being better able to deal with difficult things, seeing your own actions more clearly, seeing your own emotional reactions more clearly. People do it to achieve calm, enlightenment, Nirvana, make their jobs more palatable, stop thought, or anything else.
The truth is, meditation is not something you do to achieve anything else.
If you don’t meditate to achieve a thing, why do it at all?
Meditation is about not-doing, in order to be aware. It is through meditation that we discover who we really are. We discover things like:
- the contexts that give rise to emotion for us
- why we have those emotions
- what it’s like to just be in the world
- the nature of time
- our own barriers, beliefs, and attachments
- how most of the time people spend their lives in imaginary places like past and future
- the nature of change in time and place.
We learn how to do incredible things, like:
- be at peace with the light feelings and the dark feelings
- get past our own personalities
- accept that the only thing that matters is this very second
- expand time, because we learn that time is conceptual
- find joy in every moment.
And we can play with internal states, discovering incredibly deep levels of conscious that many people don’t discover without psychedelic drugs.
You may be curious about what I’ve learned.
Some of the things I’ve learned are that all of the schools of thought, and all of the schools of meditation, are just different aspects of the same thing. Tao talks about The Way and finding your way in the flow. Zen teaches us that things are as they are, which Tao does also. Various schools of Buddhism talk about letting go of your attachment in order to transcend suffering, but the terminology tends to turn off Westerners (largely because they can’t get past their own notions of suffering, in my opinion). Transcendental Meditation gives you a mantra and a focus, which is a method. Yoga teaches you to be one with your physical state and your breathing and your emotional and mental state.
Each one cuts the cake a different way, but ultimately they’re all the same thing. They all point you towards awareness. Each has a different method, but at the core they’re about being aware.
That’s all there is in life, really.
What I’ve learned is that anything that is “mine” – my personality, my achievements, my business – is not really me, and it’s something that I have become attached to for some reason. My body doesn’t really exist. My world only exists because of the fact that I perceive it. Any achievement is fun because it’s an ego boost, and if I get attached to that ego boost then that attachment shapes the experiences that follow.
I’ve learned that the emotions that I experience are separate from me, that they arise due to context, that if I allow them to exist, and spend time with them, I can have them, feel them, embrace them… and that they then go away.
I’ve learned how to learn, too. I’ve learned how to learn from birds and the wind. I’ve learned how to find joy even in doing the dishes. I’ve learned to begin accepting that things are the way they are.
I’ve learned that the sound of silence is a place of awareness, and that it exists everywhere. It’s something that you can use as a guide.
I’ve learned to accept that there are judgements that I make about places, people, and things. I’ve also learned that all of the noisy, angsty, violent, separating ranting about gender and politics and war and issues and wealth and peace and – well, everything! – is just the way this realm is. It’s got nothing to do with me, and by participating in that noise I’m contributing to separation instead of bringing people together.
Most importantly, I’ve learned that I’m still on Day 1.
How I meditate
Sometimes it’s helpful to know how others meditate, so that you can find your own way. My favourite method is to sit on a zafu and become aware. And to sit in that place and be there. I love it. I would sit there for hours. Twenty minutes for me always feels like half a second.
But that’s just one way of doing it, and it’s the way people are taught: Sit here, watch your breath, focus on this thing, do this, do that.
Other ways that I meditate happen during the day: By walking mindfully. By just breathing. By being completely present while engaging in activities and not thinking about (or doing) other things while doing them, like doing the dishes or cleaning up or watering the plants or working or driving.
Yet other ways in which I meditate include during conversations, because when emotions arise I have a choice: I can hold onto the emotion and run with it, or I can notice it, let it exist and overwhelm me, and still make a rational decision about what to do next, knowing that the emotion isn’t me.
Sometimes I do mantra meditations.
Sometimes I use meditation to learn from myself and find the answers to questions.
Sometimes I lie on the floor and chase tension through my body until it finds an outlet somewhere (which is weird and often results in limb spasms).
Sometimes I meditate and go deep into other places, and then sit in those places and meditate.
I believe that mind training is critical
So many people in this world are stressed out, depressed, miserable. They’re victims, they’re fighting things all the time. They’re suffering, truly, especially those who are in the West and cling to ideological positions that tell them the world should be a certain way.
The world just is.
Without learning how to train your mind, what you’ll find is that you get carried away by things external to you: Situations, people, things. You might buy tons of things to try and make yourself feel better, or you might chase experiences forever believing that experiences are better than things (when actually it’s still something you acquire so you don’t have to look at yourself). You might get sucked into a whirlwind of workplace bullshit, feeling like it really matters.
None of it matters. But until you’ve started to learn how to train your mind, and to recognise your own patterns, the world is a difficult place.
I’m considering teaching people what I’ve learned. If you’re interested in learning mind training from me, send me a message here.