Confusion in modern meditation

As meditation has become almost a healthy norm for the people interested in mental health and personal growth, it has also raised a lot of questions and confusion that would need some clarification. When people start meditating, there is always some kind of expectations of the process and results that one might want to have.

I remember when I started meditating "properly" in 2017, I had all the thoughts on out of body experiences, visuals of a mountain range and path of becoming a buddha. Well funny enough, I had those experiences in my mind, but when I went deeper into the practice, I realized I was thinking about experiencing it, so I was thinking about getting somewhere mentally and that actually got me devoted with my thinking, taking me away from meditative state of mind. I was thinking that the practice was going to give me something and make me someone, but I didn’t realize I had to let go of the old self to become something else that has the something I wanted.

Google has some frequently ask questions about meditation like What to think when meditating? How much do I have to meditate to see the results or Can you meditate too much? As I studied eastern philosophy, meditation has always been mentioned as a tool to manage your mind and more over, integrating meditative state of mind into daily life. As Tibetan book of living and dying states: “-to integrate meditation in action is the whole ground and point and purpose of meditation.” Consider the following conversation with master and disciple:

Disciple: How do I put enlightenment into action?
Master: By eating and sleeping.
Disciple: But everybody eats and sleeps, how can this be?
Master: Yes, but not everybody eats when they eat and not everybody sleeps when they sleep.

Meditation simply is a way of getting yourself into the present moment and being aware of the things that are happening around and within you. There is this saying: When one thinks about the past, they feel guilt and regret, when one thinks about the future, they feel anxiety and fear. But when one is present, they experience bliss. This saying has in it the essence of meditation. As while meditating, one will easily be carried out with the thinking to the past or the future and thus struggle with the practice. But once you reach more meditative state and are more present, ease and peace will come.

So basically, you don’t want to think about anything during meditation to be precise, rather be present and observe what is happening in the mind and body. Because concentration in this kind of state is hard, it is easier to have some area of focus like scanning the body, doing mantras and basic but effective, concentration on breath.

Concentrating on breath is a good method as you can start by observing the breath and train with trying not to be involved with it and just be with it. This will train to be absent from daily thinking and train you towards presence in different levels. When you get the hang of the observing state of mind you will realize the same mind outside the training. As the quote from the book stated, the purpose is to integrate meditation in action. This means you can bring creativity into your practice simply by getting inspiration from nature, listen to good music, exercise and other hobbies one might enjoy doing. It is not about isolating thoughts and live in the cave, rather the point is to be present with the action, be it whatever.

Asking about the results of meditation and benefits as it would be a medicine for mind is misleading, as the point is to train the mind with meditation to be present in daily life. Take it as an exercise for your mind like you would train your physical body. Yes, you go to the gym regularly to train your body, but if you are really taking care of your body and physical health, you also nurture it well, let it rest and build up a habit of living healthy. Same goes with the mind and meditation. You train your mind with meditation, but it is not going to fix or heal your mind, if you don’t take care of it outside the training. When you realize that the practice of meditation is simply training to let go of the daily past and future thinking, then you notice that if your intention is to fix something from the past or avoid something in the future, you are already devoting yourself with the practice and loosing it's real purpose. Meditation practice is there to remind you of the hustle of your mind and so keeping you alert outside meditation to watch your choices and thoughts in daily life. This means meditation never stops.

We cannot avoid the fact that we usually have the intention to be better or healthier and so motivate ourselves to do the practice. But if the goal takes the best of the practice, you will lose your presence and so the real benefits of it. So in the end, one has to accept that the process is a long one and in that process of letting go of old patterns of thinking and training the mind, one also might have to let go of the intention they started with in the first place.

To practice more stillness, visit

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