Before I begin answering your question “What is meditation and how does it work?”, which led you inside this article, I want to indicate that there is so much misinformation online about meditation that you will rarely find a sufficient, complete answer to any of your questions about it…
I thus made my best to explain it as sufficiently and naturally as my mind allowed me.
Having said that, I want to point out to you that hoping to understand what is meditation all about and how it works for you merely by reading about it, is like trying to figure out how sugar tastes, well, merely by reading about it.
You could gather as much information you think you need, but you have to practice it in order to truly grasp it.
Before sneaking a peek into the mystery of meditation and its practice, let’s take a quick look at its roots.
The Origins of Meditation
Researchers assume that the roots of meditation practice go way back in antiquity. They believe that primitive societies used to accidentally meditate while gazing upon the sun, their fires, or the stars during the night.
In the Indus Valley, archaeologists discovered evidence of meditation in wall art dating from approximately 5,000 to 3,500 BCE. The images depict people sitting in what many of us would recognize as meditation postures. There are also descriptions of meditation techniques found in Indian scriptures dating back around 3,000 years ago.
Buddha who lived almost 500 years before Christ was a great teacher of several meditation practices and he was one of the people who attained enlightenment through mindfulness meditation. Since then, many countries have developed their own forms of meditation and today there exist hundreds of different types of meditation.
During the second half of the 20th century, meditation gained a lot of fame in the western civilization and the number of people practicing meditation is steadily increasing since then. Many researchers, scientists, and philosophers are studying the countless benefits of meditation and to this day they still remain astonished.
After almost 70 years of scientifically studying the mechanics of meditation at work, they still remain uncertain and unclear.
Meditation is not What you Think it is…
Meditation is not merely the act of sitting erect for 10 to 20 minutes every other day in a half or full lotus position, reciting Aum while shaping a full circle by touching our middle finger with out thumb. This is the practice of meditation, not meditation itself; this is what we do to attain meditation.
During a meditation session, by focusing our attention to a specific anchor such as the breath, a mantra, a thought, a body sensation, etc, our conscious mind eventually yields and our mind returns to its default state of function, which is rested, silent, and calm, yet utterly awake, alert, and aware.
Meditation is this state of being described above; it is the act of just being, effortlessly and in harmony with ourselves as they are in the present moment; meditation is pure happiness.
While experiencing this meditative state, we become more aligned with our spiritual self, which is the self, existing beyond the limits of our mind; the real self; the I.
At that point we have ceased identifying with our mind; we can see it working immensely as always but we realize that we are not it. We have stopped being the one who experiences, and have become the one who witnesses the one who experiences. It feels like that you are not who you thought you were
In a nutshell, meditation feels like realizing that you are not who you thought you were, but you are a third person who feels more familiar to you than who you used to think you were.
The ultimate goal of practicing meditation is to consciously induce this meditative, non-identification, witnessing state enough until it becomes our auto pilot mode; our default state of being. I believe that this is what many call “Enlightenment“.
Nowadays, meditation is rarely practiced as a means to attain enlightenment though. It is mostly practiced as a means towards cultivating a more serene and blissful mood, as well as overcoming physical, mental, emotional, and psychological pain.
How to Achieve Meditation?
The truth is that you can never achieve meditation; meditation is already achieved.
Meditation can only be realized; it is already there; it is an innate quality of our deepest human nature, running behind the scenes since the day we were born, or maybe even before that.
What stands between us and meditation is our conditioned, conscious mind.
Every meditation practice consists of exercises which redirect our attention in some way until our conditioned, conscious mind steps back and lets our natural meditative state penetrate our being.
The effort to redirect our attention is not meditation; sitting cross legged paying attention to our breath is not meditation; trying to silence our conscious mind is not meditation.
Meditation consists of no doing, but rather just being, and just being comes when we defeat our mind’s natural tendency to keep doing.
When you experience such state, you just know it and it is said that whoever experiences meditation even for just a moment, has lived during this moment as do the Highest Gods of the Universe!
Some Final Thoughts
Meditation has truly to offer you a lot. Discover some of its benefits by reading my article The Benefits of Practicing Meditation.
Get started with meditation right now, by checking out my post Mindfulness Meditation for Beginners.
Moreover, If you are serious about starting your meditation journey, the amazing book on mindfulness, Full Catastrophe Living written by Jon Kabat-Zinn, a Professor of Medicine Emeritus and creator of the Stress Reduction Clinic and the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society, is a MUST READ!
If you have any questions about how to get started, the practice itself, or you just want to share your opinion on meditation, just leave me a comment below, or contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
I would be more than happy to engage with you.
Share this article with family and friends and help Mindful Mind grow and evolve, as it does the same for you.