What Is Meditation?

<-Acknowledgements                                                         Who Should Meditate->

If a physical trainer could say a few words about physical exercise that would in fact improve your cardiovascular system or increase your muscle mass I am certain they would.  But the fact is that they can only use words to explain the mechanics of each exercise.  You will only gain the benefits of exercise through practice.  Meditation, being a way to exercise parts of the mind, is no different.  I can only tell you the exercises and then you need to do them in order to gain the benefits of meditation.

The basis of most communication is a shared vocabulary based in common experience.  Because I am communicating something new, the best approach I can take is to bring you to a place where you can  experience the benefits of meditation for yourself.  So, with that limitation in mind, I will do my best with as few words as possible to give you a rough idea of the nature of meditation.  Real knowledge will only come from working through the exercises provided in the pages that follow.

As we might exercise our bodies to improve our ability to perform at various sports, we exercise our intellects. With meditation we exercise the non-intellectual parts of our mind in order to better know ourselves and to directly experience the world around us; experience without the filter of the intellectual mind.

Meditation is about attention, and because of the manner in which we develop our ability to attend through meditation, it is also about learning patience.  Over time as we practice meditation we will gain various things: improved attention, improved patience, normalized blood pressure, a healthier response to pain, an improved ability to connect with others and more.  Surprisingly all of these benefits accrue by working on the primary skill of attention.

Currently most schools of meditation are based upon, and serve the needs of, religious goals.  Meditation itself is not inherently a religious process.  The approach I am providing in these pages is not religious nor does it require that you belong to any group in order to learn it.  Just as you can learn to read using any book, not just religious ones, or you can learn how to exercise your body for general health without participating in a sport, this pamphlet will teach you the process of meditation so that you can apply it to any aspect of your life that you desire.

If there is sufficient interest, I will make an effort to provide a proper translation of this document into other languages.

<-Acknowledgements                                                         Who Should Meditate->

2 thoughts on “What Is Meditation?

  1. Thank you for this description of the activity known as “meditation.” You discuss how real knowledge can only come from practice. I think that it may be helpful for you to also have a page on “spiritual friends,” or however else you would like to call or classify it. While too much dependence on “spiritual friends” and TALKING ABOUT meditation could be incredibly negative, I believe that good, honest conversations about spiritual practice can keep someone motivated and even provide avenues for greater insights from meditation. What are your thoughts? I am not necessarily saying that you should augment this page at all, but it may be good also to have a page discussing “meditation friendships” or something of the like…
    Also, it may be good to mention that the number of “secular” or “non-denominational” or “interfaith” meditation groups is expanding. At least in SF, I feel there is a big movement for “mindfulness” and meditation.
    Finally, you may want to expand on one of your final points: the idea that one can apply concentration to any part of one’s life. This is essential for me in my practice. The whole idea of “meditation doesn’t end on the meditation pad.” Would you also be able to expand on this point?
    I enjoyed reading this. Do you think you may create a page called “Why Meditate?”??
    Thank you for this introduction to meditation.

    • Jack,

      I just discovered, or re-discovered, your post from Jan of 2012. Thanks for the very good points you raised. When i update my site over the next few months i will take everything you said into consideration.

      I’m thinking of adding the “Why Meditate?” section using a more personal approach rather than something general. If you have the time, would like to know what you think of either approach.

      … jeff

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