Why Meditate? Insight



There are many health benefits to meditation - you can read about them here, here, and here - but that's not why I meditate.  I meditate for clarity.  I want to see life as it is without the mental distortions caused by emotions and learned responses of the mind.  I seek a deep, clear, and precise awareness of mind and body.  I want to see the truth.

Buddha taught that the source of all of our problems in life was in our own minds.  We resist life as it is and we suffer.  We grasp for pleasure and struggle to avoid discomfort.  Suffering is a sign that we are at odds with reality.  Meditation allows us to examine our inner life more clearly and hopefully see our relationship to the reality of life.

When we first begin to meditate we may experience more suffering or stress initially.  We are used to suppressing our real feelings and thoughts and painting ourselves a picture of the world as we want it and not as it is.  If we stick with it and face reality, eventually our suffering dissipates.

Vipassana, or insight meditation, involves focusing upon our breath (or body awareness) while observing and investigating our thoughts.  We don't get caught up or embellish our thoughts, we watch as the one who sees what we are thinking.  We use the breath as an anchor to keep us in the present moment.  After a period of time we come to realize that we are not our thoughts.  Further practice allows us to see beyond the emotional tangle of our reactionary thoughts and to see clearly into the nature of the mind.

There are entire books written on how to meditate, but I recommend starting simple.  Find a quiet place and time, sit comfortably in a position that allows you to breathe, and begin to breathe.  Just breathe and notice your breath.  Feel the warmth, notice the rhythm. Now notice your thoughts.  Neither try to think, nor repress your thinking.  Sit back and notice.  Don't get caught up in your thoughts, don't follow them down the rabbit hole, just watch.  After a while get curious.  What is the source of these thoughts?  Are they reality based?  Notice that they come and go.

If you find yourself unable to focus or having unusually "hostile" thoughts and feelings while practicing Vipassana, you may want to start with Metta (Loving Kindness) meditation.  I have found that going back and forth between the two forms of meditation is very useful for me.

May you be happy.
May you be peaceful.
May you be free of delusion and suffering

Zen Presence - Ideas for Meaningful Living


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1 comment:

  1. I got up today morning confused on somethings and was foggy on the path to move ahead with. Today's article hit the nail for me! It was like a message that I was looking for.

    Thank you for your writing. I look forward to reading it and everytime I do a sort of calm descends on me.

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