What is meditation?
This is such a great question because we all kind of assume that we know – or we feel we should know – the meaning of meditation. Supposedly, it’s when you sit cross legged on the floor with your eyes closed and just relax, somehow.
But that’s not true.
And although meditation calms the mind it’s not about relaxation.
Meditation is not about “emptying the mind“ or having no thoughts.
This is a common misconception and people often think they can’t meditate because they can’t empty their mind of thoughts.
You will have thoughts when you meditate. And that’s OK.
So what does meditation mean?
There are many definitions of meditation but I’m a very practical person so here is a straightforward meaning of meditation that is easy to relate to:
Meditation means focusing on one thing.
We try to focus on that one thing only. But as I said, thoughts will come up in your head and that’s ok.
When you notice you’re no longer focusing on your chosen object just bring the mind back to it. Now you’re meditating.
Despite the thoughts you’ll find that the mind calms down.
And another effect is that you become really familiar with your chosen object of meditation.
(In Tibetan, the word for meditation is “gom” which mean “to familiarize“.)
So whenever we’re “in the zone” we can be said to be meditating. Even if we’re concentrating on a video game. Just choose your object of meditation wisely – make it one that actually benefits you.
What happens over time when focusing on just one thing is that we start to go inwards. That’s when the real magic happens. When we turn our senses inward we become still and silence our ordinary mental consciousness.
Again, this does not mean, emptying the mind and having no thoughts.
Thoughts will still come and go. Let them.
With practice, we no longer operate on that level of ordinary consciousness while meditating. We’ve tuned into another level of consciousness:
So with practice, the meaning of meditation becomes:
Turning your sense inward and tuning into inner worlds.
You can use this to visualize, or to explore self knowledge, or just to see what is there inside yourself.