A student told me the other day that he wants to be a master of meditation. I said, “The term “meditation master” is misleading, since meditation is not an activity to master.
We can practice and master skills in yoga stretching and breathwork. These are tangible exercises we can learn, repeat and see changes in.
There are also mental exercises we can learn and practice and these fall under the name meditation. It would be natural to think that if you master these mental skills you will be a meditation master.
But we don’t meditate in order to become a great meditator!
The purpose is not to be the one who sits the most straight-backed for the longest time, or the one who can repeat mantra 1008 times non-stop.
The point is also not whether you can keep your attention focused only on your breath for 20 minutes. All day, your attention constantly follows the activities inside your head and outside in the world. You put your attention on some thing, or, more often, simply let your attention ramble about though your thoughts and sensations.
Even if your body is still, your mind is busy doing. Everyday, all day long we are active, doing, doing, doing… without a moment to rest!
Meditation should not be another activity to add to your list of activities. Meditation is some time you set apart every day to “not-do”. How thoroughly pleasant it is simply to sit and not have to do anything for 20 minutes. Even not to think! Just purely “to be.” You already are totally “being” all the time. At every moment of your whole life, you can’t not be!
So, what is meditation? The time called meditation is when you are allowing your attention to rest in awareness of this pure state of being. Your awareness acknowledges your own still being. This takes no effort at all, rather, it is the cessation of all effort. Awareness comes from this still space of being in you, and when all activity ceases, your awareness returns to this pure space.
Allow yourself to be in your own stillness. Allow your mind to be content doing nothing for just 20 minutes. You will realize your own inner still space is perfect. And you are that stillness.
The student said, “Yeah, but, when I try to sit still my body hurts and my thoughts won’t stop.”
Padma is one of Canada’s most respected and popular teachers of meditation, yoga and self-realization. Padma has over 30 years of experience in yoga and meditation, including a one-decade advanced meditation retreat in the Himalayas of India, and is certified to teach by the International Meditation Institute of India. For more information on Padma go to www.padmayoga.ca.