On the Act of Meditating
Updated: May 6
(I've written more on meditation here)
Meditation has been an on-and-off aspect in my life since 2011, so you can say I have a partial experience of a decade in this field. Ironically enough, it is also at the time where I was conducting meetings with a philosophy professor who began to make me both a meditator and a philosopher—all in my early teens, after I went through an unfortunate accident that I prefer not writing about in this forum. I will only say that this accident marks the end of the shallow version of myself, and begins my slow evolution to the person I am today.
Even though I do not meditate on a regular basis, I am very familiar, from experience, with the power and influence of meditation on both our mood and mental state. It is a very ironic thing, if not paradoxical, since it appears unbelievable to the inexperienced eye, as to what meditation can do to us on both the short and long run. After all, meditation is just being mindful to something beyond the sea of thoughts we're regularly in.
Contrary to popular belief, being spontaneously mindful to something does not need to always have a specific form. In other words, sitting in a far-eastern fashion is not the only way to meditate. I even meditated once by mistake when I lay in bed and easily paid attention to the beatings of my heart. I have never met such people that can meditate whenever and however they want, but I won't be surprised to discover that such people exist.
You can know you are meditating when your mindfulness of something, such as a mantra or your vicinity, creates one or more unique feelings that appear mostly if not only in meditation. I'm talking about deep love towards nothing in particular, or a sense of inner cleansing. Never in my life have I felt such obscure sensations beyond the field of meditation. I do not know much about these feelings; why they arrive, what they symbolize, why they are unique to meditation, and so on. What I can tell you is this: once you become accustomed to meditation, it can make you think that little else is needed in life, as these sensations rarely exist even in the most gratifying of so-called "earthly" pleasures.
I am in no way a religious person, but I can understand why asceticism and hermit-hood were largely religious in human history. Prayer can theoretically be seen as mantra meditation, and if this assumption is correct, then even irreligious/atheistic people can have similar experiences as religious folk simply by choosing a mantra of their liking and repeating it in a spontaneous, yet mindful manner. I won't even be surprised to discover that some animals such as cats can meditate by being "one" with their purring.
Why is there a need to be spontaneous when meditating? It is because forced mindfulness ruins the experience. In Taoism there is the concept of "Wu Wei" -- effortless endeavor. When things are done naturally, the "spirits", AKA unique sensations, are far more likely to arrive and "heal" yourself than when you become unwillingly aware of something you do not "feel" like doing. Meditation therefore can definitely be seen as returning to your childish self; the one that enjoys wholeheartedly of doing something; the one we learn to detach from ourselves as we grow up.
You might be weirded out, but I don't believe that the term "meditation" fits this act. It's because this word is more synonymous to the "contemplation" than it does to said act. You don't even have to put much thought when meditating. It's a natural flow, not a conscious construction and evolution. Even when we ask ourselves something while meditating, the answer does not come from contemplation but, again, with little cognitive effort. Where does the answer come from? I am uncertain, but probably from the subconscious.
It is still ironic that so much can come from such a simple act. Don't be overconfident, though. It is very hard for most people to exit the constant chatter of the mind and just "be" there, in the solitude that exists beyond your lifelong companionship of your mind and its countless thoughts. Have I never had a thought for at least a moment? You can know that when the main focus exits from the mental prison. It's not something you put a thought at the same time you do it, and this is also why I partially disagree with the usage of this term.
If you have never meditated before, or rarely have done it, you are missing a lot. Not only is it healthy, but it can improve your mood as well. Maybe in the future, when asking a philosophical question, the answer could be found within, as well, when meditating on said question. With all the mysterious benefits of this ritual, it could be worth a shot. Remember: Just exit from the mind, see and sense beyond the prison bars.