The root of the word meditation came from the Latin meditatio meaning, “To analyze”.
This is the intellectual definition of meditation.
There is another definition of meditation, less, analytic, less judgmental and more spiritual.
This non- analytic view of meditation is founded in all spiritual practices and, above all, in the Oriental ones such as Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism and Taoism.
During these spiritual practices, to meditate is to be aware, to pay attention, to observe, to reflect intensively on something without any analytic, judgmental and decisional actions. It is called to be mindful.
In other words, mindfulness meditation includes 3 repetitive processes:
- Forcing the mind to anchor on something such as our breathing in a mindful way and, at the same time,
- Observing how the mind is escaping from it, usually by wandering, almost non-stop.
- Then, after observing a thought or feeling, going back to the anchor.
Meditating is going back and forth from breathing then observing our mind wandering then focusing back again on our anchor.
Meditation is being mindful to our thoughts – that is mind observing itself- or, better said, consciousness.
Learning our mind observing itself is a critical skill to be aware of our emotions and deal with them.
Thoughts and emotions arise and disappear continuously (estimated at around 110,000 /day!).
They are generated by bioelectrical current running trough 1,000 trillions of neuron’s connections of our brain-mind. Yet, they have tremendous power on our emotional state and quality of life.
Like electricity, they are immaterial and without any material and concrete features beside their neuro-imaging identity and yet they control our emotional state and quality of life.
Positive or negative, thoughts are only mental and immaterial products.
Are they the biological expression or incarnation of what many call Universal Consciousness? Maybe.
How focusing on my breathing will help me to control my thoughts and emotions?
Despite its enormous thinking power, our brain-mind cannot manage more than one thought at a time.
Like a computer, it is processing one or zero similar to the binary system.
Because the brain-mind cannot focus on 2 targets at the same time, focusing on one target
– such as breathing – is a powerful tool in learning to control the flow of our thoughts and be able to observe them almost one by one, like watching a movie frame-by-frame.
So, the main purpose of meditation is not to block our thinking or get a clear mind or to empty it; it is impossible.
Rather it is to observe it and to understand that thoughts /feelings come and go spontaneously and endlessly, just like words written with a finger on water.
This spontaneous “In-Out” thought activity is important to understand because we are using it during meditation and during the day.
Meditation is a mental mirror since, while meditating, our mind is aware and observes itself.
By learning to observe it, you will be able to control it including its negative feelings.
This is the path to serenity