“You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”
– Inego Montoya, The Princess Bride
Over the course of a year, I’ve been taking some meditation classes. They’re rad, but talking about meditation tends to elicit a particular response. As if meditation is some pinnacle of spiritual maturity or an imperative of “wokeness,” the very word Meditation conjures up images of monks teetering precariously on mountain tops, blissed out hippies, or spiritual leaders with all the answers. It’s one of those practices that seem unattainable to many and those who meditate somehow possess enlightenment, are able to transcend the evil “ego,” and are therefore “better” in some way than those who do not meditate.
Folks often excuse themselves from the practice of meditation based on a false idea of what Meditation is; the most common excuse is, “My mind is always racing, I can’t clear my head long enough to meditate.”
Allow me to address this misconception and put that racing mind at ease —
– Meditation is not the elimination of all thoughts from one’s mind.
– The goal and purpose of meditation is not to think of nothing.
– The goal and purpose of meditation is to think of something – anything – and to direct one’s focus on a single concept.
Meditation turns thoughts into thought.
If you’ve ever read any of my previous posts you may recognize a pattern, I often begin with a definition and a very basic etymological break down. Shall we?
verb: meditate; 3rd person present: meditates; past tense: meditated; past participle: meditated; gerund or present participle: meditating
- think deeply or focus one’s mind for a period of time, in silence or with the aid of chanting, for religious or spiritual purposes or as a method of relaxation.
- think deeply or carefully about (something).”he went off to meditate on the new idea”
- plan mentally; consider.”they had suffered severely, and they began to meditate retreat”
The root of the word meditate is MED – which means to measure, to give advice, and to heal.
Medical, Mediate, Medal, Medicine, Medium/Media, Meddle, Medium (the size between Large and Small)
MED illustrates the process of meditation.
Choosing the focus of mediation is central to the desired outcome – Energy flows where attention goes – but the PROCESS of turning an infinite pool of possible thoughts into focus of a single concept begs us to measure, advise, and heal our relationship to that concept.
Choose any focus for your mediation. My current practice is to focus on Light. This means a good bit to me, but if you would choose a mandala, world peace, the chakras, a mantra, a pinecone, or a sales goal, go right ahead. You are the conductor of your reality.
As we dive into the first moments of our meditation we MEASURE the concept in all the ways we can possibly conceive. We use our senses to engage our focus, to sweep away extraneous thoughts that do not apply. We measure our focal point against the backdrop of our perceived reality and gauge its meaning within those parameters.
As the excess thoughts begin to drift and drop and we train our brains on the meditation at hand, the measure gives way to ADVICE – a mediation between self and concept – where we examine our relationship to the focal point. We dive into the Why’s and the Wherefore’s of our focal point, at once pondering our motivation and allowing the concept to guide us deeper into understanding it through the reflection of self.
This is where HEALING takes its course – where once were a thousand reeling options for contemplation we have allowed ourselves to become one with the focus of our meditation practice. It is no longer something we are thinking about, it is not even a thing separate from one’s self. It simply is as you are. And in that oneness you heal the illusion of separation and allow the essence of “itness” to integrate its truth into your reality, your being, your mind, and even some inner spaces unknowable at the time.
I’m not here to to tell you TO meditate or what to meditate on or even prove its benefits or detriments – I simply wish to clarify the concept in order to make it accessible to more people. If you wish to begin meditating for any reason, feel free to invent your own practice or borrow from any number of existing methods.
Remember that meditation is not the evacuation of all thoughts but a practice in choosing a single thought and cultivating a neural pathway through the mind to isolate and contemplate that thought for a period of time.
Meditation turns thoughts into thought.