What Is Meditation?

Posted by: on Dec 30, 2013 | No Comments
What Is Meditation?
image from @thelifeofphoebe

Prayer is when you talk to God; meditation is when you listen.

I have been meditating for over a decade now. My motivations have varied over the years. Initially, I’ll be honest, I was trying to manifest a boyfriend. Then I started meditating to cure my insomnia and other ailments. I often sit attempting a psychedelic glimpse of God, and to imagine loving kindness moving outward and onward.

Ironic, isn’t it, that when we are motivated to make a change we can be drawn to sit and essentially do nothing but focus on our intentions?

Recently, I read a poem by Mary Oliver that led me to think I haven’t actually been meditating at all. When I take a step back and look at my motivations for sitting they have actually been to manipulate the situation I am in. Lately, I started wondering if this is more praying than meditating. I started wondering, wait a minute, what is meditation? And, are my motivations getting in the way?

In case I have tainted my understanding of what meditation is, I did a little mental housekeeping, so to speak. I cognitively threw away everything I thought I knew about meditation to focus on the question, “What is meditation?”

This is what I’ve observed so far:

  • Meditation is when your judgement is playing hooky.
  • Meditation is a suspension of needs and desires.
  • Meditation is asking a question and then opening up to perhaps receive an answer.

I don’t at all think that meditation is limited to these descriptions. In other words, I’m not going to stop asking, “What is meditation” just because I’ve observed these clues. And I’d be very curious to hear your observations as well.

There are countless reasons to clear some time for meditation. It doesn’t have to take long.  Even just 3 minutes is better than nothing.

One thing I’ve learned for sure: “mediation” doesn’t just happen because I want it to. However, if I don’t make the time to sit, then there is little chance of experiencing the suspension and the space that can come to my mind, body, emotions and spirit if I do. Mary Oliver speaks to this much more poetically…

The Place I Want To Get Back To

is where
     in the pinewoods
          in the moments between
               the darkness
and first light
     two deer
          came walking down the hill
               and when they saw me
they said to each other, okay,
     this one is okay,
          let’s see who she is
               and why she is sitting
on the ground, like that,
     so quiet, as if
          asleep, or in a dream,
               but, anyway, harmless;
and so they came
     on their slender legs
          and gazed upon me
               not unlike the way
I go out to the dunes and look
     and look and look
          into the faces of the flowers;
               and the one of them leaned forward
and nuzzled my hand, and what can my life
     bring to me that could exceed
           that brief moment?
               For twenty years
I have gone every day to the same woods,
     not waiting, exactly, just lingering.
          Such gifts, bestowed,
               can’t be repeated.
If you want to talk about this
     come to visit. I live in the house
          near the corner, which I have named

     – Mary Oliver, Thirst

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