The question that nobody ever seems to be able to answer clearly.
The answer to “what is meditation” depends on who you ask. Not all responses accord with one another, but these inconsistencies are not worth getting hung up on. It’s not necessary to get a firm grasp on a definition of meditation—the real understandings will fall into place as you practice. That said, a framework to begin with can certainly be helpful.
The real understandings will fall into place as you practice.
Meditation is a transformation of consciousness. It is a process of recognizing and dissolving the patterns of a highly associative and conditioned mind. More simply, meditation is becoming quiet enough to notice what is happening right here and right now—everything from the flow of thoughts, to the settling of the joints, to the background noise, to the breath, to the interconnectedness of all life.
In the biological sciences there is something called "baseline monitoring" where you collect data to find out how an ecosystem is doing before you make any changes. Meditation is kind of like that--familiarizing with where you're at and what your "baseline" feels like. Then you can consider if you want to change the quality of your baseline, and what it would take to do that.
In the biological sciences there is something called "baseline monitoring" where you collect data to find out how an ecosystem is doing before you make any changes. Meditation is kind of like that.
Through this consistent observation meditation can reveal patterns of sensation, thought, and emotion, and can shed light on the projections and illusions we entertain that block us from connecting with ourselves and others.
How it will unfold is not something that anybody can tell you. It’s for you to find out. I will share a quote from the Yoga Sutra of Patanjali:
“Freedom is at hand when the fundamental qualities of nature, each of their transformations witnessed at the moment of its inception, are recognized as irrelevant to pure awareness; it stands alone, grounded in its very nature, the power of pure seeing.”
But if that's confusing to you, don't worry. Don’t worry about your meditation being like anything in particular, or yielding any specific results. All there is to do is to become quiet, to listen, and to be present with what happens.
All there is to do is to become quiet, to listen, and to be present with what happens.
If the absence of a clear definition feels unsatisfying to you, consider this: Do you really just want to have answers? Imagine if someone could just tell you in a few words how a beautiful song makes them feel. If all you cared about was answers, you wouldn’t bother listening to that song yourself—you would read the report. My guess is that you want something more than answers. You’ve found your way here in part not to be given answers, but because you want to hear the music.
Get started with seven days of guided meditation - less than 15 minutes a day.