Why Do We Meditate?
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There are many different reasons why people meditate:
To become a more calm person, as stress relief / to relax, to improve concentration, as an aid to work, study or sport, to get to know yourself better, for healing, to be free from negative emotions, to become a more loving person, to experience bliss, to develop deep concentrated states, to develop psychic powers, for control.
All the above can be experienced as side effects of the two types of meditation that I will cover in this article. They are Vipassana (awareness meditation) and Metta (loving kindness meditation). The purpose of these two types of meditation to: free us from negative habitual tendencies in our mind,lead to deep contentment, to inner peace,this means completely removing the tendency in our mind towardsall anger based emotions,all greed based emotions delusive based emotions
Peace and Contentment through Meditation
To bring about this result we need to understand how we create suffering in our own lives and that of others. We need to understand what causes these states of mind and feelings to arise and when we understand this clearly enough we then can understand how to make them cease. With even more clarity of what the process is we can stop them from arising altogether.
Just as if you had a seed and that seed (irritation etc) would grow into a tree (anger etc) if it had the right conditions such as soil (your mind), water (your thoughts), fertilizer (desire), and heat from the sun (inappropriate attention). If you took away any of these elements the seed would never grow and eventually rot and die.
But the same can also be said for healthy emotions such as unconditional love, joy for others success, compassion and an equanimous, unjudging mind.
Just as if you had a seed and that seed (caring etc) would grow into a tree (unconditional love etc) if it had the right conditions such as soil (your mind), water (your thoughts), fertilizer (desire) and heat from the sun (appropriate attention). If you didn’t take away any of these elements but added balanced amount of all of them, the seed (caring etc) would grow into a big healthy tree (unconditional love etc) and provide shelter for anyone who wished to sit under it.
How can we learn to see more clearly?
Firstly we need to understand why we don’t see clearly and we can do that by developing present moment awareness. Awareness is the function of mind that knows what is happening now. We all have it to some degree and use it every day whether we know it or not. When we are not doing something in a habitual way we are then doing it with some degree of awareness.
A good example is driving a car, if you are driving a car in an area where you are not familiar with, the driving itself will have your full attention. You can not afford to wander off daydreaming or you will get lost. On the other hand if you are driving in a familiar area your attention will tend to run off to some thought. Have you ever experienced driving along and then suddenly realising that you had no recollection of the last 10 minutes, including the traffic light you just went through? That suddenly remembering that you were daydreaming is the transition between unawareness and awareness.
Present moment awareness is something that can be developed by regularly exercising it. Like anything if you don’t exercise it, it will become weak and flabby, so to speak. The first place to start exercising your awareness is on your body. Not the outside form of your body but your experience of it, the sensations within.
Exercise one: To develop awareness of the sensations in your body sit down, close your eyes and place your attention on the point in which your buttock is touching the ground or chair. It may feel strange at first but try to feel the different sensations that are present. There is probably hardness, a feeling of pressing, heat, maybe vibration or aching. All of them are ok. Try to look even closer at them with your minds eye. Can you separate them? Now try to see where your buttock ends and the chair or ground begins. You cant, this is the beginning of experiencing the world through meditation.
Purpose of this meditation Practice
Through this practice you will come to understand better any negative habitual ways of reacting that you might have. If you watch closely enough you will stop feeding them and eventually their momentum will run out. Negative mental patterns only stick around because we invite them to stay, we give them constant exercise and food. Cut off their food supply and they will be like a vine cut off at the base. The fruits will just dry up and drop off. Awareness meditation cuts off the food supply to negative mental patterns through understanding and wisdom that comes from deep observation
Once we understand deeply enough we can cut the cycles and end suffering –what could be better then that
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This article was written by Stephen Procter, instructor from Tai Chi Health for Life, Australian College of Tai Chi & Qi Gong and Meditation Instructor from Meditation in the Shire, Kirrawee NSW, Australia. If you wish to post this article on another website or in a publication please respect the author and reference / link back to this website, thank you