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What Meditation is and isn't

Updated: May 11

Meditation is an important part of your life.


Meditation is just as important as sleeping and eating. Meditation is training for your mind much like going to the gym is training for your physique.


5-minute meditation a day helps you to be more aligned with yourself.

 

"To become your own psychologist, you don’t have to learn some big philosophy. All you have to do is examine your own mind every day. You already examine material things every day– every morning you check out the food in your kitchen– but you never investigate your mind. Checking your mind is much more important."


Thubten Yeshe, Becoming Your Own Therapist

 

Meditation is an everyday practice.

Buddha hands mudra Buddhist clothes

Try to practice meditation every day. In the beginning, it will be hard, your mind will create a lot of different excuses and reasons not to mediate, but you have to be mentally strong and follow the meditation schedule. Eventually, it will become natural just like waking up in the morning and brushing your teeth.


Meditate every day, preferably at the same time. Start with a short meditation. 3-minute meditation a day is a good start. Positive effects and visible results of meditation are cumulative over time, and won’t be seen immediately.


Be consistent!

Meditation is helping you to be more mindful.


Meditation is always mindful but mindfulness is not always meditation. Mindfulness training can include chanting, walking, mindful cooking, driving, reading a book, and, of course, meditation.


Changing the mental habits and conditioning of a lifetime is not easy. The change can start with short meditation every day.

5-10-minute meditation can help you to be more mindful throughout the day. By focusing on your inhales and exhales you are here and now. Later during the day when you are facing a difficult situation, you can go back to your breathing, relax, and let it go.


 

Meditation guides you to realize your true inner being because to truly know who you are you must reach within.

 

It is also helpful to choose a particular activity and make an effort to be fully mindful of the task as you perform it. In time you will find yourself paying more attention to everything that is going on around you.


See: How do I start meditating?

 

Zen teachers say that if you miss the moment, you miss your life. How much of our lives have we missed? Be mindful!

 

Japanese Chinese woman meditating relax balcony

Meditation is all about here and now.


Rather than offering temporary solutions to life problems, Buddhist meditation looks to address core issues.

The spiritual path is never one of achievement; it is always one of letting go.

Letting go of any expectations, anxiety, and suffering. By letting go of unnecessary thoughts you are more present.


By meditating a couple of minutes a day, you are slowly letting go of anger, attachment, anxiety, disturbing feelings. You are not suffering from external circumstances. You are in control. You've mastered the power of here and now.

There is another thing that we as humans intend to do: we are interested in becoming something or somebody, a better version of ourselves, a better parent, the best at something. When we start meditating, we are interested in becoming excellent meditators. In reality, the wish to become something "more" stops us from living and experiencing life as it is. When all we can think about is how to become better, or something else, we are stopped from just being in the moment. We cannot pay full attention to what the reality is.


We are living in our perception of reality, which is far from what is actually happening. We are constantly planning and thinking about the future, or stressing about the path while forgetting to focus on what is right in front of us. The only reality we can be sure of - is this particular moment right now.


Meditation is an excellent tool to understand what reality is. We learn to focus on what is right here, rather than fantasizing about the future, and regretting the past. There is impermanence in everything. Each moment passes, but we cling, trying to hold on to it. Trying to make it a reality.

While meditating we can grasp the notion of impermanence. Everything is changing. That's the real law of life.


By meditating even 5 minutes a day and focusing on your breathing, you will notice that every single breath is different. Every meditation is different. Every moment of your life is different. And that's the beauty of life. Not only the morning is a new beginning. You will realize that every inhale is also a new beginning.


By thinking about the future, worrying about what already happened or will (never) happen, you are stealing from yourself a precious moment of here and now.


See: Lama Yeshe on Bodhicitta


Meditation is beneficial for you and everyone around you.


What is meditation? When a monk is mediating for hours and hours, does this mediation have to do anything with our troubles in everyday life? Why is he or she sitting still and doing nothing when there is so much suffering in the world?


It may seem that meditation only works for you, and fixing your problems temporary. This is not exactly correct. To change the external circumstances you are living in, you have to start with changing yourself. The change start from within. It starts with you.


The reason why you're meditating might be that you want to be less stressed and anxious. By meditating every day, you are becoming more aligned with yourself, as the result you are more happy and relaxed. Slowly you notice that by becoming less anxious, the world around you is changing as well.


In the book Natural Great Perfection: Dzogchen Teachings and Vajra Songs, Nyoshul Khenpo Rinpoche and Lama Surya Das said, "When we practice bodhicitta prayers or meditations, it may look like we are alone, like we are practicing for ourselves, but we are not practicing for ourselves, and we are not alone. All beings are interconnected, and in that sense they are present or affected. When I am alone, meditating in the mountains, all the Buddhas past, present, and future are with me. Guru Marpa is always with me. All beings are here.'”


The monks are dedicating their mediation not for their own happiness and wealth, it is dedicated for others, so it is very pure. It will eventually lead us and other people to a more fortunate rebirth that allows for the realization of enlightenment and experiencing less suffering.


Mediation isn't just a religious practice.

meditation picture people meditate drawing full lotus drawing

Meditation can be a religious practice, but also it can be separated from any religion or spiritual belief.


Meditation is a tool for a better calmer life that can be used by anyone. Meditation is a necessary part of your everyday life, just like sleeping, eating, brushing your teeth.

 

Meditation works even if you do not believe that it works.

 

For meditation to work you do not need to believe in a special God, or pray day and night. Meditation works even if you do not believe that it works. It nourishes your inner being, making you better aware of who you are and how to deal with difficult situations. It is the best medicine for your mental health.


See: Are You Spiritual But Not Religious?

Meditation isn't sitting and doing nothing.


Meditation does not imply only the development of single-pointed concentration, sitting in some corner doing nothing. Meditation is an alert state of mind, the opposite of sluggishness; meditation is wisdom. You should remain aware of every moment of your daily life, fully conscious of what you are doing, and why and how you are doing it.


If you feel that sitting meditation is too difficult for you, start with walking meditation.


See: Walking Meditation


If you are practicing sitting meditation, instead of focusing on breaths, try to recite mantras, music or focus on the body sensations.


See: Mantra Meditation


Meditation isn't a fast process.


Changes in your mindset and you do not occur suddenly but gradually, over time. We must meditate continuously on the same topic repeatedly to gain familiarity with it and to shift our perspective.

 

The only bad meditation is the one you didn't do.

 

Sometimes you feel that there is no progress at all. First of all, meditation is not about progress or going somewhere. Second of all, changes are happening within the moment as you start meditating. Subtle changes that would not be seen by anyone even you.


Having a meditation journal is a great tool to notice the shift in your meditation practice. You can write down your meditation experience (without judging or labeling), your feelings, expectations, worries during the day. Every month go back to your journal notes, read them again and notice if some changes are happening.

Mediation isn't easy, and that's okay.


Meditation is one of the most difficult activities. It is not just about the temporary practice of sitting still and relaxing. It is a life commitment.


Meditation will effect deep profound change within us when we do it repeatedly over a period of time. First, we need to learn the proper way to meditate, in order it to be successful and beneficial to us. If we meditate incorrectly, it can obscure our minds even further.

See: How to run a meditation session?


After you start meditating, you will notice that you have more thoughts than before. In reality, you have the same amount of thoughts. You simply just started noticing them.


It is called a "monkey mind." It is impossible to control, and you do not need to do it. Stoping or controlling thoughts is not the goal of meditation. The goal of meditation is to realize impermanence. As the result, you will become calmer and happier. If you are happier, all the people around are also becoming more happy and satisfied with their lives.


Meditation isn't only a morning activity.


You can meditate in the morning, afternoon, evening, or even at night. You can meditate while walking, driving, eating, or listening to mantras.


Meditation has no limits. You just have to do it, and do it consistently to see the results.

Meditation isn't always good.


It doesn't always feel good to meditate. Depending on so many different circumstances you might feel more irritated after the meditation than before starting it.

Some people get attached to the calm sitting, so after they finish the meditation session they feel that the world around them is too crazy. These people are unable to bring the experience from the cushion to real life.

Do not get attached. Your meditation session today was good - that’s good. Not good - that’s also an experience. Do not get attached to whatever you experience. Meditation helps you to learn not to get attached to whatever emotion arises. Simply learn from it and stick with it.

Then when you become more experienced in meditation, you will notice that when something happens in real life, you can control your feelings better, and not to get uncontrollable outcomes.


DO NOT judge yourself or your meditation. Meditation is meditation, is not good or bad, exciting or frustrating. Meditation just is.

 

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