There are so many forms of meditation today. Almost all the religions of the world have their own unique forms of meditation; there are also centers teaching meditation that is non-religion based. Google the word ‘meditation’ and one will be overwhelmed by the range of information available.
Although we see so many schools advocating their methods to be the one true way, closer observation seems to reveal many similarities. One thing for sure, for most schools the actual act of meditation involves sitting down and maintaining the seated position for an extended period of time.
So what exactly is meditation and how does sitting down doing nothing else benefit us, or even lead us to liberation? What is liberation?
I have always explained meditation as paying attention to an activity without getting caught in the web of thoughts. It is a simple way of defining the actual doing. Common activity involves breathing and observing the inflow and outflow of the breath. In the course of this, there will surely be thoughts arising: what we are doing later? Did I forget to switch off the tv? And many many more.
So the trick is this: we need to start noticing when we get carried away by the thoughts. Initially its not easy, especially if we’re doing this alone without guidance. But once we notice ‘oh im thinking again’ acknowledge the thought without any judgement then shift our attention back to the breath again. This will happen so many times its easy to be irritated most of the time. Have patience; allow the mind time to get used to this letting go and shifting.
Why do we want to do this? Well for most people it’s to get away from the tensions of daily life. Just repeating this simple breath exercise will allow one to relax, really relax.
Following on from here, there is a possibility to open up a whole range of experiences that may alter the way we view this world radically. Getting an experienced teacher is essential to guide us along the way.
So if you are reading this, may this be a condition to encourage you to take this seat with me.