What is Meditation ?

Meditation is:

A state of mind where the mind is alert and alive, aware of all the senses, but there are no thoughts. It is not that thoughts do not arise, but they do not stay e.g you may be sitting in meditation and hear the sound of an ambulance, the mind could start thinking “that is an ambulance” and start to wonder where the ambulance is going and go further into other thoughts connected to experiences of ambulances. In meditation we are aware of the sound of the ambulance, but we do not allow the train of thought to continue.

Easy. It is easy to get into a state of meditation but not so easy to maintain. We shouldn’t think that meditation takes years or even months of practice. We can touch a state of meditation very easily and even a short period of meditation is beneficial, aiding relaxation, increasing alertness and managing stress.

A state where we do not try. Try not to worry about whether you are doing it right, just set aside some time and have a go. The important thing with meditation is doing it not trying to learn it.

Like waiting for a thought to arise. Just sit for a few moments and become aware of your thoughts. Now wait for the next thought to arise. It may be just a few seconds or much longer, but that time before the thought arises is meditative.

Meditation is not:

Focus. By focus we mean bringing the mind onto a single object. Focus, or one-pointedness is a useful tool to help us to develop our meditation ability. By learning to focus on one thing we can stop many external thoughts arising and then we can let go of the point of focus.

Concentration. Concentration is keeping the mind focussed on an object for a period of time. Again it is a useful tool to aid the development of meditation but it isn’t meditation itself. In meditation the mind is relaxed so there is no effort with the mind. In concentration there is often an effort to try to keep going. Try to relax the mind.

Contemplation. Try not to use your meditation time to go through thoughts, issues and problems to get the mind organised or understand what to do. This can be very useful but it is not meditation. Try to separate time for contemplation and time for meditation. In particular do not use the time for dwelling on negative issues, churning them over and over and deepening the anger, frustration etc.

Sleeping. Meditation is very relaxing and it is very easy to fall asleep while meditating. Do not worry about it. When we relax the body is able to replenish itself more easily and sometimes what the body needs most is sleep. Try not to fall asleep every time you meditate but don’t worry if you do. Meditating in an upright position in a dining chair is more conducive to staying awake than in an armchair. To assist in keeping awake do the meditation at a time when you are naturally alert or do some energy exercise first.