‘What Is Meditation?’…Actually is a hard thing to answer in words.
Rather like trying to answer an inherently “Left Brained Activity” with “Right Brained Answers”
… We all know exactly what a sneeze is – but could you clearly describe it by putting it into words ?!
.. I know I would find that hard to do !
‘What is Meditation’ is very hard to explain simply and precisely, but I can give you some ideas as follows –
Meditation can be described as a special state of mental calmness, brought about by using various techniques, where the mind becomes more ‘focused’ and is less distracted by things from outside.
Or we could also say –
What is Meditation ? It is the description of a state of concentrated attention on some object,
… either an object of thought alone or some outside object.
Or another way –
What is Meditation ? Meditation is a system that brings about both mental and physical calm and relaxation,
… by using techniques that cut down on the amount of internal mental “chatter” that we all have going on all the time.
So many other names for it have been used, which try to give the central answer to – ‘what is meditation’ – as it is such a difficult thing to ‘pin down’ into words.
These include the following;
Turning the Mind Inwards
…and so on… as you can see it is difficult to be precise about its definition, all of the above gives us an idea of what meditation is about, but I think that they all tend to be a bit snooty – don’t you ? !
What perhaps will give you a better idea would be for you to do a few very short mental exercises
… that will make it clearer for you to understand ‘what is meditation ?’
Mental exercises to explain ‘What is Meditation ?’
We will be doing three different mental exercises
… each lasting only one minute,
… to demonstrate ‘what is meditation ?’
The first one will give you a better idea of how the mind works.
The mind has been called a “Barrel Load of Monkeys” because it is never still, and this affects how the rest of our body responds.
What do I mean by ‘A Barrel Load of Monkeys?’
… To understand this, let’s start with the first exercise – it’s not difficult.
All I want you to do is to sit very quietly with your eyes closed for one minute –
…and during that minute I would like you to just watch what is going on in your mind and what your thoughts are,
…don’t try to influence them in any way..just watch, alright ?
So, if you are ready, then let’s begin –
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
So what did you notice ?
…If you are like 100 percent of the rest of us, then your thoughts were probably something like this;-
” O.K., watch my thoughts, no problem…must remember to keep my eyes closed though…how can you watch thoughts anyway…this is a bit crazy…O.K. stay with it…I’ve got an itch in my foot….no problem…Oh ! I must remember to get dog food this morning…and some more fabric softener…what’s that noise?…only the air conditioner…it sure is cold today for the time of year…I wonder when it’s going to warm up…it will be fun to go swimming again…I wonder if I am getting too fat ?……Marnie sure looked fat the other day…. my nose itches…is a minute up yet…no way….funny how the time goes by so slowly when you are doing nothing….Oh right, I’m not doing nothing, I’m watching my thoughts…what was that old song about thoughts ?…can’t remember…maybe my memory is not as good as it used to be….I don’t know…I wonder if meditation is like this and if it would help that ?…and so on…and so on…and so on !
You can easily see what I mean when I talk about a “Barrel load of Monkeys” !
… our thoughts jump around all over the place, from one thing to another, often without any rhyme or reason, and only sometimes with connections that are obvious.
This is NOT an example of ‘what is meditation ?!!’
Let’s try the second short one minute mental exercise, but this time, sit quietly, close your eyes and think of…“nothing” – O.K. ?
If you are relaxed and comfortable, then begin now –
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
What happened ?
…maybe you started off thinking about nothing for all of three seconds if you are good at this !
…then the mind kicks in and the “barrel load of monkeys” start chattering again, so that it goes something like this;
” O.K…..Think of nothing….no problem…I’ll think of a big white space with nothing in it….nothing….but wait a minute, a big white space is “something” – not “nothing”…so can’t do that….so I’ll pretend that I’m going to sleep…that will do it….that reminds me…must remember to change the sheets in the spare room tomorrow….oops, that’s not nothing….what does “nothing ” mean anyway, it means – no thing – right ? how can I think of ‘no thing’ without thinking of ‘some thing’…I don’t know…doesn’t make sense….what’s that got to do with meditation anyway ? “… and so on, and so on and so on !!
As we can see, it is impossible to think of ‘nothing’, because of that ‘barrel load of monkeys’ inside our minds.
Our minds are constantly churning out thoughts, even when you are asleep – (you just have to watch the twitches and eyelid movements of someone who is asleep to believe this).
So what are we trying to do with meditation ?
We cannot stop the internal monkey chattering, but once we can answer ‘What is Meditation ?’ then what we can learn to do is –
—Firstly – slow the chattering down a little.
—Secondly – gently direct it so that it becomes a form that is restful and peaceful, instead of a harsh ‘all over the place’ chattering.
—and Thirdly – create a state where we are more “In the Present.”
What do I mean by – “In the Present ?”
If we think back to the first exercise, where we just looked at our thoughts, we can see one thing very clearly.
Our thoughts jump around all over the place, from past – to present – to future, often with no obvious reason.
But what this tends to do is to cause us to worry or be concerned about things that we have done in the past
– things that we should or could have done differently
– sometimes regret that we did things the way that we did
– and so on.
Similarly with thoughts about the future,
– we constantly worry about the ‘how and the why’
….”How am I going to pay all the mortgage this month ?
….Will John’s report card be alright this semester ?
….What should I wear tomorrow?
….Why am I getting so many zits ? “
– and so on – in a never ending stream.
All these concerns and worries about the past and the future are causes of stress for us –
…and these, coupled with the everyday stresses of living…noise and other pollution…traffic…finding a parking space, money problems…etc…etc.
– can easily create so much stress that it begins to harm us, mentally, psychologically and physically.
This definitely does not answer our question of – “what is meditation ?”…and –
This is definitely NOT what meditation is.
However, if we are “In the Present,” (another way of saying that is – “Being Here Now”), then the stresses of the past and the future become much less important for us.
Let me give you a couple of examples of exactly what I mean.
If we watch very young children or very young animals – even for a short time – then one thing becomes very clear.
What they are doing at any one moment becomes almost like the whole of the universe for them –
… they are not thinking about the past or the future –
… but are totally focused on what they are involved in – right in front of them- being here now…in the present !
For example – watch an infant as it crawls across a carpet –
…often there will be a small something, such as a piece of fluff, that catches the infant’s attention –
…what do we notice ?
That small piece of fluff becomes almost the center of the universe for the infant –
…where all of its concentration, attention and interest is completely and 100 percent absorbed by this piece of fluff,
…yet the infant is relaxed and enchanted !
No stressful thoughts about the past or the future – no worries or anxieties – just delight in this “new discovery!”
Another very powerful example from the sexual field involves the moment of orgasm –
…if you think about it for a moment – you will realize that in that short moment we are not thinking about the past or the future –
… but we are “in the present” or “being here now.”
Which a very important part of why orgasm has such relaxing mental, psychological and physical effects.
In a way, we can say that these two examples now both begin to answer our question – What is Meditation ?
With meditation we can learn how to be more in the “here and now” during the time that we are meditating –
…and the effects of this slowly start to spill over into the rest of our life –
…so that the past and the future increasingly have less and less power to cause stress for us.
With the result that you will then be able to deal with any crisis in a much more relaxed and efficient manner.
I will give you a demonstration of what I mean,
…and this will begin to give you even more of a complete answer for –
…’What is Meditation’
Let’s do another quick one minute experiment, which I think will give you even more of an idea of what I mean by – ‘What is Meditation ?’
As before, sit comfortably with your eyes closed for one minute
– and this time I would like you to create a mental picture of your absolutely, 100 percent, FAVORITE place.
Try to make as clear a picture as you can,
… including all the sights, sounds, smells and feelings that are associated with your most favorite place.
But each time that your attention begins to wander to something else,
… then gently bring it back again to your most favorite place.
O.K…If you are ready, then let’s start –
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
So, what did you notice this time ?
…I am sure that you will agree that it was different from the previous two exercises, and is closer to the answer of –
“What is Meditation?”
To begin with, it gave you a more relaxed feeling I am sure –
…but also you may have noticed that during the time that you were doing it –
… you were not so caught up in concerns about the past or the future-
… but were more focused on what you were doing –
… more ‘in the here and now’ or ‘more in the present.’
Nearer to answering – ‘What is Meditation ?’
Maybe not a whole pile more –
…maybe only a very little bit more.
But what I want to show you is that we are able to affect how we are, and how we feel – by guiding our thoughts in a particular way.
In a nutshell….
That answers ‘What is Meditation?’
A way of gently training our minds and thoughts, so that we have less stress.
Therefore allowing us to be more relaxed – more efficient – and more ‘in the here and now.’
…as opposed to being caught up in thoughts and stresses that we have from the past or about the future.
If that is not completely clear to you, then repeat these exercises –
…but this time with a better understanding of what we are looking out for,
…and I am sure that it will begin to give you a better answer to – what is meditation?
Later on we’ll be doing many other more powerful exercises where you will discover more dynamic and obvious effects.
(Each one will have this
graphic, before it, so they are easy to find.)
However first of all you need to look at a few other aspects apart from learning ‘what is meditation.’
Firstly you should look at other aspects of your general health and wellbeing –
…for a very sensible and well thought out Holistic overview of these
…just click on this link
One very important time of your lives is when you are in the ‘Over 50’s’ age group.
To keep yourselves both mentally and physically at the highest level possible is of supreme importance, both from the point of view of longevity, and also to keep your mind active and continuing at peak activity.
Meditation is one very important tool for this, but a more holistic approach using several other techniques is the very best way.
An excellent website for more information specifically geared for the ‘Over 50’s’ can be seen at – www.seniorskeepingfit.com (just click on the name to take you there).
…The second aspect to consider is that although meditation will quickly help you to have a relaxed and calm mind –
… it will take somewhat longer to bring about the changes that allow you to have a relaxed and calm body.
……..one very effective and complementary addition to meditation is Massage – which works very well with meditation to promote mental and physical relaxation –
…in fact many people, (including myself), meditate while they are having a massage.
A problem however – is that there are so many different kinds of massage, that it can be confusing and difficult to decide which one would be the best for you personally,
…so to help you with that, I would strongly recommend that you have a look at the following website –
…(which although is basically geared towards people who are interested in a career in massage therapy)
…also gives an excellent overview of most of the different kinds of massage available.
…….To check it out, just click on MASSAGE then especially look at the page called Massage Techniques.
—-Next, if you are new to meditation then it would be perfect for you to click on the names to go to the following pages – to get a more complete picture of ‘What is Meditation ?’
All of which go into other important and crucial aspects of ‘What is Meditation’
On several of my Website pages you will see a Survey form, for ideas you may have for further subjects that you would love to be included in this website –
… please share your thoughts and ideas, to make this website even better for you.
Meditation – read more about Mindful Guided Meditation What is Meditation? Demonstrations, and Exceptional