Meditation / What is Meditation?
What is Meditation?
To take up meditation is to introduce a powerful force for change in your life. If you change your mind then the world changes too. Meditation can be the beginning of life's greatest adventure.
In the short term meditation is an antidote to stress, a means of becoming calmer, more self possessed and emotionally positive. In the long term it is a tool with which we can transform ourselves fundamentally.
We teach two meditation practices: the mindfulness of breathing, which enhances our awareness and peace of mind; and the metta bhavana - the development of loving kindness - which brings about a gentle but potentially radical transformation in our emotional experience.
The Mindfulness of Breathing is the most fundamental of all Buddhist meditations. It is a concentration exercise as well as an 'antidote' to restlessness, anxiety and worry. The main effect of this practice is one of integration - it helps people to calm their minds so that they may harmonize and bring together all their different energies and to focus them; to bring from the chaos of different 'selves', one clear, concentrated 'self'. So in learning to concentrate this way, we conserve our energy instead of dissipating it, and we develop a sense of selfhood, of individuality, which motivates us to live without constantly being side-tracked by other preoccupations.
The Metta Bhavana - a Pali term which can be roughly translated as 'the development of universal friendliness or goodwill' - is taught together with the Mindfulness of Breathing. Through this practice we gradually develop feelings of warmth, friendliness and well-wishing for ourselves and others, extending eventually to everything that lives! This feeling is not exclusive, not based on what people do for us, nor aimed towards only those whom we find agreeable. Metta is a totally inclusive feeling, felt equally towards all, and springing from our own emotional fullness irrespective of external circumstances. As we gradually succeed in generating metta, it is no exaggeration to say that our experience of ourselves and the world is transformed.