What Meditation Actually Is and What it Isn’t
When picturing how meditation is done, most people would imagine having to sit in a lotus position while keeping his eyes closed and breathing “Ohm!” in a sort of trance. And when asked what goes on inside, it is a common conception that the mind is free or is being free of any thought or emotion.
Such an image isn’t particularly wrong, but it isn’t the only method of meditation, either. There is more than one type of meditation technique, and one lets the person focus on a specific object. Instead of keeping the mind blankly fixated on this thing or idea, the mind familiarizes itself with it. And in this audiobook, this type of meditation shall be further discussed in the succeeding pages.
It may now thus occur to you that people actually meditate every day. When, for example, a person focuses on a certain object or matter, scrutinizes its advantages and disadvantages, and then enumerates the benefits he will reap from it, he practices meditation.
Buying a car requires weeks, or perhaps months, of contemplation. The process would commonly start with the establishment of the needs of the buyer and then followed by the determination of which car type will best serve this need. Afterward, the buyer will research the differences or advantages offered by each car brand. He could read reviews on the internet, prod friends with the same car type to reveal problems or talk to car dealers about the best value for their money.
After gathering sufficient information, the buyer will now weigh the options in his mind. As he develops an inclination towards one, his desire to possess this specific brand and type of car deepens.
And as illustrated above, the essential exercise of contemplating which car to buy already results in meditation. Analytical processes may vary from
person to person, but the same is true when selecting a university to enter, a house or apartment to live in, or more commonly when selecting a person to marry. In fact, the very act of purchasing this audiobook constitutes a part of meditation.
Because meditation can be exercised on any object, may it be concrete or abstract, it can also be done anywhere. It may be done while in the car, during a commute, while engaging in crafts, or while sitting alone on the sofa at home.
It is not necessary to find a darkened room or an airy garden to have to practice meditation. This audiobook is all about practicality, hence the methods for meditation it shall discuss are those which will require no extra formal effort from the reader. It will instead focus on the substantial aspect of the practice.
Meditation as a Tool for the Perpetuation of Unvirtuous Thoughts
After having learned of the simplicity of meditation, a question now succeeds: “If I meditate every day, why am I still experiencing stress, anxiety, or depression?”
This is because most people focus their mental efforts towards unvirtuous acts rather than virtuous ones.
When stuck in traffic, instead of focusing on the virtue of patience, the person is more likely to contemplate on the stupidity of the system, the incompetence of the traffic enforcers, the inconvenience from the construction happening on the street ahead, or the drivers who have caused the jam.
Many are not aware of its effect, but feeding this negative thought only strengthens the resolve and results only to greater stress. The simple idea that “the traffic enforcers are stupid” may evolve to, “they aren’t doing their job properly”, then to “my taxes are going to waste with these blokes”. Feeding the thought further shall transform into anger. And should traffic persists, a circumstance outside the control of anyone stuck in it, anger can only ball up to stress and weigh down the spirits of the person.
Another example that every person may relate to better is thinking how much contempt they have over another. And in most cases, the subject of this contempt is one’s boss.
This little seed of negativity will burrow deep in the crevices of the mind and shall be nurtured by every little observable fault the person does.
The emotion will find its way to the heart when it is shared with others. Hatred will bloom once, during his meditations, the person integrates his or her thoughts with what he or she learned from others.
These strong negative emotions are like poison inflicted upon one’s self. It destroys no one but the person who harbors them. No one has died from
anger or hatred, but these and others of the same kind invite stress, and later on, despair and depression. And when discussing these emotions with other people, instead of relieving oneself of the weight, he does the opposite.
It is easier to meditate on all the bad things in life the same way it is easier to love junk food than vegetables. There are no explanations yet as to why, or if there is, it’s not in this post, but you will discover later on that to cultivate peace through meditation, the mind undergoes the same process.
More than Listening
Before discussing the actual practice of meditation, understand that by choosing and listening to this audiobook, you have already started.
Meditation is a mental exercise, but unlike those geared towards improving aptitude, knowing is not enough. Upon reading the texts of this audiobook, you would have gained intelligence. Peace, and thus relief from stress, anxiety, and depression, however, is developed through discipline.
To help you practice this mental discipline as early as now, exercises and their corresponding guidelines will be supplied throughout the audiobook. You may choose to do them or not. But should you opt for the latter, this audiobook implores that you subject its words under critical analysis. Do not take them as they are, and instead, ask yourself a thousand different why’s.
Why are Buddhist principles discussed when I only need to know how to meditate?
Why is this audiobook so abstract when I was expecting it to be more concrete; like help me give an alternative to the lotus position?
Why are the roots of my depression being discussed when I only want relief?
Why does this audiobook say I shouldn’t settle in unvirtuous thoughts, but it at the same time encourages me to think about them?
Why is this audiobook so long?
Why does it seem that concepts are being discussed repetitively? Why should I even believe what this audiobook is saying?
Why shouldn’t I question the validity of everything it says?
What to do: Before moving to the next subchapter, take the time to think about the unvirtuous thoughts that you have entertained in the past. Below are some guide questions to help you identify what these are:
- Is there a person you hate or is currently irritating you?
- Are there aspects of your job which you despise?
- Is there something about your special other that makes you want to break up with him or her?
- Are there things or matters within your family that encourage establishing and maintaining distance?
- Are there things about yourself you do not like?
- Is there anything in your daily life which you especially dislike, like the commute, the traffic, or the climate?
Important Note! If your answer to any of the above questions is in the affirmative, stop yourself from thinking any further. Like an open door that leads to a trap, the emotions associated with the objects asked about will pull you like gravity. And before you even know it, you will once again be snagged by and be drowning in unvirtuous thoughts.
Instead, however, stop before the door, refrain from crossing it, and calmly look at the view inside. “Yes, there is a person I hate at the moment,” and stop! Do not let the hateful thought—the very substance of this emotion—follow. But should it be inevitable, let it pass by as if you are watching a passing cloud, and then move on to the next door.
This exercise is like a precursor to meditation. It seeks to develop objectivity in the mind. Although it doesn’t help you diminish emotions completely, which is absolutely impossible, it allows your mind to stay analytical without being influenced by feelings.