Reflections on Meditation

Have you ever googled “what is meditation?”

You will find as many definitions as there are authors. There’s a kind of consensus that it involves working on the mind and/or consciousness, and that the aim is to improve the quality of consciousness, from “improved clarity” to outright enlightenment at the extreme.

So many colors

The greatest problem with defining a widely used term like “meditation” is that we lack the language structures and words that fits the topic. Spiritual matters just does not have a clearly defined language! Some folk say “I meditate” and what they mean is that they sit outside under a tree and listen to the wind and the birds. Another might focus on the breath, trying to quieten the mind. A third may try to raise energy up their spinal column … or chant a mantra… or may just be floating away on a cloud… You name it meditation, I name it meditation, but are we talking about the same thing at all?

I won’t try to define meditation. Here I just offer up a thought or two that try to improve our understanding of what we are doing.

Firstly, it has very much to do with where you focus your awareness. For the most part in daily life we’re not even aware that we are aware. We just “are”, lost in doing what we’re doing, thinking what we are thinking. When you meditate, you try to stay aware of your awareness, and direct where you focus that awareness.

One of the things I learned from Janet this morning is that you can be passively aware, just sitting there watching your breath and noticing what arrives in your conscious mind, or, you can actively direct your awareness, as when you send out healing energies for example, or to send energy to a friend in need, or to listen to the wind.

Another angle that helps our understanding of meditation is to consider that it can be divided very broadly into two branches: one that works on the mind, and in any number of ways trying to bring stillness and peace to the thought processes that continuously run riot in our heads. Another branch aims to develop subtle bodies and organs, like the third eye. For example, Kundalini yoga aims at developing energy flows in the body and growing a mastery of energy circuits through the body of subtle organs. (That last sentence has the problem of language and definitions again, so I apologize if your understanding differs!).

Ultimately we all just have to find a discipline that works for us. It can take years of trying different things before you arrive at something that resonates with you, but you’ll know it when it does!