Saturday, November 13, 2010

What is Meditation?

I just started reading a book by Venerable Henepola Gunaratana called "Mindfulness in Plain English".  It's very insightful so far, as it talks about what Meditation is and isn't. 

I used to think meditation was only for monks, holy men, hippies, and acid trippers.   I was obviously I was wrong since I'm neither of those, and most of the people I know aren't either.   Meditation has gotten general concepts about it that aren't necessarily true as a whole.  There are many different types of meditation which are 'flavored' by the spiritual / religious institution that it is practiced in.

Vipassana (insight meditation) is not a means to grow calmer (although it is a by-product sometimes).   As the teacher I've been attending that last month points out,  'Meditation is not a time to go into trance, or feel good.  Vipassana meditation (as taught by the Buddha)  is a practice in being more aware.'   Awareness leads to better control over our lives.   It shows us the real nature of reality rather than the one given to us through society and our own ignorance.

As I've learned in the past, results don't come if I just choose to meditate every now and then.  For me (since I do want to change my behavior and see reality as it is),  I have to discipline myself to do it daily.  
I've been happy to note that my results are very unpredictable after meditating.  Sometimes I'm calmer afterwards, or sometimes I'm agitated,  or sometimes just drowsy.   I've learned that results aren't supposed to be predictable for each session.  The point of meditation for me is to see the impermanence of everything, and to loosen my grip on cravings (for pleasures), aversions(to pain), and to neutrality(things that are unimportant to me or bring no feeling whatsoever).
 Not that I can't enjoy things, feel pain, or be bored;  but not to cling or run from these.   Unfortunately from an addict this is very difficult.  Because I've ran from pain all my life, sought pleasures in many different ways(mostly unhealthy), and strayed away from things that had no concern for me.  To change this whole way of life is definitely a slow process as it should be.
But the most important thing in my life is meditation daily.  I've noticed thus far that my attitude has shifted a little bit, I'm noticing more of my defects of character, and actually being more disciplined in my daily activities.    

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