We all are capable of meditating. We all can benefit from what this practice has to offer us.
We can begin by clarifying what meditation is not. As Vietnamese Buddhist Monk Thich Nhat Hanh clearly indicates:
Meditation is not to escape from society, but to come back to ourselves and see what is going on. Once there is seeing, there must be acting. With mindfulness, we know what to do and what not to do to help.
Simply stated, meditation is not a means of escaping the problems of our personal world and the world beyond. It is a means through which we can find a way to help the world.
Learning meditation means discovering a world in which we can help remove the negativity. We replace it with positive thoughts and actions. It's possible, through meditation, to achieve physical, mental, emotional and spiritual changes that enrich us, and all with whom we come into contact.
What is the Goal of Meditation?
The absolute goal of meditation in religion and philosophy is enlightenment, that is the realization of the true nature of the mind. By drawing deep into our consciousness and directing the mind, we can discover reality. By cultivating the practice, we can develop positive approaches to our life. We will no longer be intermittently happy. We will achieve true happiness. Also, this is but one of the observable effects of meditation. Others include:
- Stress reduction
- Improvement of health
- Enhanced performance
- Personal insight
Other goals are possible and even common in meditation. Some practitioners incorporate meditation into their exercise routine. It helps them focus on their tasks. Yoga is one practice that is completely compatible with meditation. It incorporates pranayama – a type of breathing. Proper breathing is necessary in meditation. In fact, correct meditation cannot exist without paying specific concern to the preparatory work.
Preparing for Meditation
Before we can begin to meditate, we have to “set the scene.” This is important whether the meditation is done alone or in a group. Preparation includes the following:
- Wear something that is comfortable.
- Evoke or invite the spirits, Gods, Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, or other beings – if so inclined or oriented.
- Arrange your meditation pillow, mat or chair.
- Sit down with your back straight. This allows the energy to flow freely.
- Place your legs comfortably. Assume a lotus, half-lotus or legs-crossed position, only if it works for you.
- Calm your mind through breathing techniques. Only after we accomplish this should we start meditating.
Only when we have established a daily practice can we expect to experience any of the benefits of meditation available to us all.
Achieving Positive Results
It is not easy to bring to fruition all the benefits of meditation. While some, such as a decrease in stress may materialize quickly, others, such as spiritual enlightenment will not. It's critical to realize the importance of establishing a practice. It must be consistent. It must have a goal in mind. It also must have your devotion. If we do not adhere to the principles of meditation, it will remain forever simply a form of exercise and relaxation.