Meditation is a training of the mind in concentration. To be absolutely correct, meditation is training the mind in concentrating on a neutral object such as the breath or virtuous object such as, but not limited to love, wisdom, compassion, kindness and patience. These objects and others will be discussed later in subsequent lessons. The object is the thing, concept, image, sound or word that we meditate on. In general, what we meditate on is called the meditation object.
From Geshe Kalsang Gyatso (A meditation master) – “How to understand the mind”: Meditation is a mind that is single pointedly focused on a virtuous object and whose function is to make the mind peaceful and calm.
There are many forms of meditation but all ultimately use the same underlying mental functions to meditate. Transcendental meditation, visualizations, Buddhist meditation, mindfulness practices, zen meditation, Qi Gong meditation and many others all use concentration, mindfulness and alertness to meditate. Meditation is a practice or training in focusing the mind. It should calm the mind and allow us to feel more at peace and less stressed or worked up.
An important point to note is that it’s one thing to define and know what meditation is but to actually get yourself to sit and dedicate time towards discovering it for yourself is another world entirely. We all have the capacity to discover the depths of our mind using meditation as a tool. Meditation is for everyone and can be practiced by anyone. There is nothing stopping you or me from discovering what it is and subsequently discovering more and more about our minds and who and what we are.
The most difficult thing about meditation is making time to meditate. Let me say that again. The most difficult thing about meditation is making time to do it. We live in a world full of distractions and interesting things to do. We have deadlines, families, problems, hobbies, careers and businesses to attend to. The idea of meditation sounds great and learning all about it sounds even better but I want to encourage you not to take this course for an intellectual exercise or to merely gain knowledge or for mere curiosity. Take this course with the motivation to sit down and discover what meditation is in practice. If the most difficult thing about meditation is to actually get yourself to do it, this entire course is only 1% of what you need in meditation because you have still not begun!
Let’s do our first 30 second meditation here. Let’s contemplate this question first: Do I want to meditate? Do I practically want to learn about meditation and not theoretically? If this question evokes a feeling or sentence in your mind that says YES, I do. Then focus on those words and say them over and over in your mind. Yes I want to sit and meditate.
Meditation is a function of the mind. It is something we do with our minds. When we practice meditation we are increasing the capacity of our minds.
We are creating space between our thoughts and our ability to choose what we think. We are training our minds to be in control and to have the power to choose what it wants to think and how it wants to respond.
When you have more mental capacity and when you have the ability to focus on what you want to achieve without being distracted you become a powerful person. Your behaviours will be in line with your thoughts and when you create a vision and strategy for your life you will have the capacity and strength to achieve what you set out to achieve.
When you learn to concentrate and be mindful and alert you free yourself from reacting to situations and instead start taking control of your own behaviour. Essentially, you start taking back the power to guide yourself through your life and not be pushed or pulled around by your situation and the expectations of society.
We have a limited amount of energy and if we are pushed and pulled around by our distractions we waste our energy on meaningless thoughts and activities. How can we ever think we will be successful in life if we cannot direct our energy. When a person is distracted and has a limited mental capacity that person will not be successful at what he or she sets out to do unless that person is lucky.
If we want to utilize our energy for what we truly want, we need to learn to control our minds. We need to learn how to focus our minds on what we want through the practice of meditation.