A Brief Introduction to Meditation

What is meditation?

Meditation can be thought of as resting attention as accurately as possible on what is presently occurring while ignoring impulses to think or act.

What might I notice during meditation?

  • The rising and falling of the diaphragm and the passing of air through the nostrils or mouth from one breath to the next
  • The pressure waves of the pulse from one heartbeat to the next
  • The changing panorama of surrounding sound
  • Fixation

What is fixation?

Fixation is a lapse in attention or loss of awareness in the form of compulsive thought or action: holding the mind or body fixed, creating a sense of solidity or permanence. In this respect, meditation is the practice of accepting continued change without the need to revert to fixation, a condition sometimes referred to as groundlessness.

What is the purpose of meditation?

To rest attention on what is changing, rather than what appears to be fixed, is to sustain awareness and responsiveness rather than torpor or stagnation. And clear, steady awareness brings advantages:

  • Improved functioning both mentally and physically
  • Less suffering due to reduced need for familiar fixations
  • Closer proximity to enlightenment

What is enlightenment?

The ability to rest attention only on what is changing, however it appears, without the need or desire for anything else is equivalent to unconditional acceptance of all things. Without the perceived need to think or act to bring about something different, the mind can rest in inactivity. This pinnacle of self-discipline, the sustained realization of the optional nature of participation in the world, is enlightenment.

What is an effective meditation posture?

The phrase "not too tight, not too loose" is often used to describe an effective meditation posture. 'Too tight' means relaxation is lost; 'too loose' means alertness is lost. So an effective meditation posture brings both alertness and relaxation to as much of the body as possible. Improvements to a meditation posture are made by letting go of fixation from compulsive sensing or acting: by doing less.

How does it feel to meditate?

Meditation exposes the myriad fixating tendencies that inhibit awareness, allowing them to be relinquished. Confronting fixation repeatedly is often humbling, compelling compassion toward oneself and others. It can also feel unfulfilling to settle for less of what is available, although the result is to be accustomed to having less without feeling deprived.

What might I notice after meditation?

Meditation brings increased clarity and capability, as more energy that might have been expended compulsively fixating is available to the present situation. It can also lead to a sense of spaciousness, that there is more room to operate due to increased freedom from habitual fixating tendencies. As these tendencies subside, the world can also seem relatively uneventful, revealing equanimity and peace.

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