I’ll admit, I’m not very good at meditation. At all. The most I’m ever able to accomplish is some deep breathing exercises and a few moments of quiet. And that’s fine, for now. It’s a good starting point. With some practice (a lot of practice), I should get better at it. I’ve never been able to “turn off” my brain, to quiet the thoughts entirely during meditation so that a deeper state can be reached. The only time I have reached that kind of state? Playing a piece of music on my violin that I know by heart so I can close my eyes and just play. That’s the only time the thoughts have stopped and my brain has been shut up.
People meditate for different reasons. Some for stress relief, some for breathing exercises. Some do it to find peace, even if it’s only for a few moments. And still others do it in the attempt to access psychic abilities and open the third eye. All of those reasons and more are good reasons for doing meditation. It’s also a health benefit, and even just deep breathing is beneficial to a healthier day. At any time during the day, when you have a few moments, whether at work or at home or standing in line at the grocery store, just close your eyes for a moment. Then breathe. Actually breathe. Breathe deep and slow and even. Now don’t breathe deeply enough that you make yourself lightheaded. That’s not the point! Breathe deep enough that it’s deeper than your everyday normal breathing. After a minute or two, stop and open your eyes. Reflect on the experience. Do you feel better? Do you feel calmer? Try it for a week and see how you feel at the end of a week. Do you feel any different?
Whatever the reason for beginning meditation exercises, the main point of meditation is to stop the thoughts that constantly plague us. I call it “thinking too much.” I have so many thoughts rolling through my head that sometimes I loose track of what I was just thinking about five seconds ago. For the space of meditation, you stop those thoughts. It’s like turning off loud, blaring music after a huge party with tons of loud chatting voices only to find the deep silence underneath. That deep silence, that space of peace, is the point. That’s the goal (at least for most meditators. It’s slightly different, I imagine, for a meditation master.) for the beginner.
The overall goal, the goal that takes practice to reach? I suppose it’s called enlightenment. A connection, a discovery of the “true nature of mind.” A deeper knowledge of what it means to Think. To Be. To Exist. When this goal is reached, the other previous goals are simply bonuses to the ultimate goal.
For an interesting read about meditation and further thoughts on the goal of meditation, I suggest taking a look at this website: click me! It’s a site maintained by a group of Buddhist teachers and monks who run teaching centers and facilities in Europe (I think it’s called the Dhagpo Kagyu Ling Institute).