A few months ago, I began a journey into meditation. I cannot avoid writing about it, for the occasional 10 minutes of practice are profound and well worth discussion. So I hear you ask... Cătă, what nonsense are you telling us today?
One of the most unfortunate things about more esoteric topics like meditation, is how much noise exists in the world about them. How much people approximate the experience and the practice with something unrelated. And, more importantly, how many people sound like insane wizards when describing the process. As I enter this discussion, I want to stay clear of that, and be as pragmatic as possible. I also know now that a couple months of practice do not make me an expert. I cannot tell you what you should do when meditating, only what I have noticed so far.
In my view, meditation is an exploration of how consciousness works. It is practice for attention and perspective. It is a way to better integrate our experience of life. It is not a magic road to find healing, nor is it a quest to discover "what is actually real". I am also aware that my understanding of the process is not final.
Perspective is the key word here. Much of what I've practiced so far deals with changing the perspective of how one views the world. As a simple example, one can describe senses as tools for perceiving the world, or one can view the world as reflected by senses within oneself. The former is what we normally know by default. The keyboard that I'm typing on exists in the real world and is a thing. The latter is a stranger view where we can say "we only know our senses, and they are the entire world". I don't know the keyboard is an object, instead I can see it reflected within my experience through texture, temperature and color.
However, the problem with this statement is that it is cerebral. It is a concept, a thought. We can argue about it here in a discussion, but one does not while meditating. The practice itself appears to be about feeling how we feel. Paying attention to our attention. Simply focusing on thoughts, feelings and emotions and learning to recognize them. Knowing not only what a sound sounds like, but also paying attention on how it feels to hear. Diving within this realm of experience can help us understand how our emotions manifest, and how to be more in tune with with our already ongoing lives.
If what I've described above sounds strange, and you expected to learn that "meditation is the path to being calm and empty of thoughts", I feel you. I was there. And with what I've learned so far I couldn't disagree more. I've been through quite a few apps and youtube recordings of guided meditations where the message was "drop your worries", "feel this bright warm light of energy healing you", "empty your mind" and I could never resonate with those commands. Not because they are hard to do, rather because they are temporary effects even if I do them, and they don't translate well to the familiar external world. I can't integrate "drop all worries" when a problem arises in life, but I can apply "I've felt this before, it's anger, I know how I react to anger". Moreover, attempts I've made into meditation years ago following those mantras always led to frustration, to my wrong belief that "I can't do this, I can't clear my thoughts", when simply I was not supposed to.
This journey all started with a book by Sam Harris called Waking Up (the title makes it sound much more magical and mystical than its contents). I'm very curious where the road will lead, for I feel there is much more to explore than just the perspective shift I described here. Until then, fellow humans, enjoy!