What is meditation?

Many people I know are quite skeptical about meditation. It’s “wierd” or something “alternative” that Westerners just don’t do. I know I felt this way until about 2 years ago, when I started to explore yoga as a way to decrease stress. Meditation is just a natural offshoot, and it would not due the experience justice to try to explain exactly what it’s like.

Instead, I decided to compile a list of experiences that offer a glimpse into the beautiful, peaceful inner calm, that meditation can facilitate. My point here is: it’s not something weird, it’s a wonderful way to relax, to learn more about the world around you, to learn more about your identity and your own biases in thinking, and…it’s something you’ve already had a glimpse towards doing anyway!  Here are the experiences:

  • Feeling an instant of total relaxation, as you drift off to sleep.
  • Feeling “in the zone” or “losing yourself” when doing an activity. If you truly get in the Zone, you will lose a sense of time, and even of your sense of self, and instead only perceive and do the task at hand with pure concentration. You will stop worrying about what else you have to get done that day, who is bothering you, etc… Here are some examples for an introduction:
  • sports – eg see the book In the Zone (Perry, Jamison)
  • enjoyable jobs – for an overview of people who find enjoyment through challenges at work and in personal life, see Csikszentmihalyi’s book Flow
  • For a quick view on getting into a state of clearness, as one continues to create challenges for oneself, and driving that philosophy towards a very high level of performance, see Malcolm Gladwell’s article on what Wayne Gretzky, Yo-Yo Ma, and Charlie Wilson (a surgeon) have in common.
  • A moment of danger, when you have only time to focus on the situation. There is no thinking, only doing. That reminds me of Star Wars…so here’s a cool perspective on Star Wars and “in the moment” philosophy.
  • The feeling after a project at work is completed, almost a brief feeling of release, that could be described as a feeling of “ah…now I don’t have to worry about anything”.
  • Enjoying beauty in nature, such as a beautiful sunset, for a few moments before your mind starts creating labels for what you’re viewing, or others around you start trying to label the experience.
  • Sitting in church (if applicable), when there is a time for silent prayer, and if you’ve ever felt your thoughts quiet down to blankness. When you open your eyes, the whole world may feel refreshed.

Have you ever experienced these? What do you think about meditation?

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One comment

  1. […] Andrew placed an interesting blog post on What is meditation?Here’s a brief overviewMany people I know are quite skeptical about meditation. It’s “wierd” or something “alternative” that Westerners just don’t do. I know I felt this way until about 2 years ago, when I started to explore yoga as a way to decrease stress. … […]

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