What is meditation?
Updated: Nov 26, 2022
Meditation doesn’t promise to solve your problems, and there’s no guarantee of everlasting happiness. Life, with all its challenges and uncertainty, will still happen. What meditation can do is change how you choose to relate to, react to, and view the circumstances happening around you. It offers a pocket of stillness amid all the outer chaos. With a consistent practice — and with a certain amount of open mindedness and a willingness to investigate — the change it brings about is gradual, subtle, and intangible yet profound. It involves a growing sense of awareness and understanding that can ultimately change the way you feel about both yourself and others.
The process of meditating is straightforward and easy: simply sit and practice. All you have to do is close your eyes, stay focused on your breathing, and let your mind do its thing. This is the one skill where you don’t have to strive to achieve something — just a place of stillness where no effort is required.
There is no such thing as a good or bad meditation. There is only awareness or non-awareness. The moment you realize you’re lost in thought, that’s awareness, and that’s when you return to the object of focus (usually the breath). This is all you have to keep doing — return from your distracted thought to the breath, all the time honing your awareness. With perseverance, the periods between awareness and distraction will get longer and longer.
Before starting, it’s good to familiarize yourself with how the mind works and what to expect of it when you sit down to meditate. A good introduction is this short animation that uses the experience of sitting by the road watching traffic to explain how meditation helps change your perspective on your thoughts or feelings by teaching you to observe and let them go without getting caught up in them.