Why meditate, what is the point?

When we ask that question we should ask ourselves the question, what is it that we want in our lives?

The answers that pop into your head might include such things as more money, a romantic partner, a better job, greater material security. To my way of thinking, these describe form rather than essence.

It is of course, nice to have these things, but they are all external and temporary; they come and go, giving a brief respite from “dukkha”, and can even be the cause of greater dissatisfaction.

Dukkha is a Pali word used in Buddhism. In the west we have no direct translation of this word; the expression is usually translated as “suffering”. But the word suffering does not capture the more subtle aspects of the word dukkha, which also refers to the fundamental un-satisfactoriness and painfulness of mundane life. Its antonym is the word “sukha”, meaning “happiness,” “comfort” or “ease.”

Put another way, we could say that, practiced regularly and properly (without expectation and a sense of kindness towards my mind), meditation eases suffering, reduces stress, anxiety, pain, whilst increasing the experience of happiness, wellbeing and equanimity.

So how does meditation help us do that?

  • It gives us context and perspective; seeing and experiencing the “bigger picture”; a greater sense of connection with life; experience of being part of something greater; a clearer sense of purpose.
  • Helps us experience a greater sense of interior peace. By that I do not mean that I am free of all disturbing or “anxious” thoughts, nor that my mind is empty; rather, I am more “at peace” with my thoughts and feelings.
  • This process is helped by a greater sense of kindness and compassion towards myself, which in turn helps me develop a greater sense of kindness and compassion towards others.
  • It can increase my equanimity; make my mind calmer, which increases my ability to consciously respond, rather than unconsciously react. This means less drama.
  • It can help have a clearer understanding of how and why I behave the way I do.
  • My senses are more intense/vivid.

I also want to make it clear that I am still learning, still discovering. I realise that the journey is more important than the destination.

Author: Geoffrey Molloy©

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