What is Meditation? Part I

Author: Robert Dadd Robert’s interest in herbs and health began in university and was further influenced by several years of work and travel throughout India, Nepal, Indonesia, and Japan. He has completed a BA in Communications from SFU and completed 3 years of study with Dominion Herbal College resulting in a Master Herbalist diploma. His areas of interest include research into adaptogens, probiotics and essential fatty acids. He currently works with Flora as a product information specialist in the Product Information Department. He has written articles on herbs and wellness for publications in the US and Canada like alive, Taste for Life, Tonic and Viva magazine.

What is meditation? Why do people take the time to do it? Basic questions to start with. On one level, meditation can be seen as a way of rejuvenating the mind, improving mood and appreciation for life, and de-stressing. It shares some similarities with sleep there except that you are remaining conscious.

Sometimes it’s easier to define meditation by saying what it is not. It is not an activity with a goal and does not involve achievements or any kind of progression. It does not involve becoming somebody different or producing some magical result. Meditation is really about giving your mind and spirit a break from our daily and lifetime conditioning of psychological achievement and struggles with becoming, improving, changing. It works on you rather than you having to work on it. Further, it does not involve steps or a program or a how-to guide. That’s what is wonderful about it—the freedom from all of these things for a while. Meditation is really just about awareness and abiding with what you are at the most fundamental level. It is simple but we make it very difficult because we are taught to always want to influence and accomplish and change. In many realms or aspects of our lives, this is good and necessary. In meditation though, and in our psychological life, it can create conflict and turmoil. The point is to accept what you already are rather than struggle against it. When you actually do this, you may find that what you already are is different and more amazing than you thought! Sitting on the floor is best for meditation. You can use a cushion if you want. The point is not to be in pain or discomfort but also to not be too relaxed so that you fall asleep or start daydreaming. You want to sit with your spine erect and legs crossed. It’s a simple position just to initiate a break from your normal everyday activities. You don’t have to do anything special with your hands but it usually helps to rest them on your knees and hold them together in your lap. Aim for a straight posture without rigidly trying to hold it. Focus on breathing in through your nostrils. Once you’ve started there is really nothing to do but remain aware. Finally, remain with what is. Whatever thoughts, whatever feelings, whatever state of mind, whatever bodily sensations—just be aware of them without trying to control, influence, or judge them. The point is that you are not actually separate from any of them. It isn’t about waiting for anything to happen or trying to produce some result. It’s about letting unnecessary brain activity fall away so that your mind and spirit have a chance to replenish themselves. Some peace. Some bliss. An unwinding of psychological knots and stress. Meditation can't be taught; you have to feel into it and figure out what it is and isn’t as part of communing with yourself. It’s about remembering that you can just be yourself as you are and that that feels good. Stay tuned for the second part of this meditation post which focuses on the Sattvic diet.