What is mindfulness or meditation? What is it really?

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With the popularity growing for meditation/mindfulness practice there is a lot of confusion surrounding meditation. And, unfortunately, like the speaker, it can lead someone down a false path. In this episode, we delve into how meditation is both much simpler and much more than a fixed timed practice.

[00:00] Hey guys its Chiggs. I’m back here for another episode, the Losing Stress Podcast and in this episode, I want to be talking about a very important topic and that is, what really is meditation?

Now this episode might be quite contradictory to the other episodes that I’ve put out there. I have to say that a lot of the information that I’ve put out there before was coming from a place that wasn’t completely clear. By this I mean I’m specifically talking about the episode where I talk about my daily practice. I had this very extensive practice with lots of different elements. And since then, I would say a few weeks on now, my perception of meditation has changed almost completely away from that.

And so that’s the reason I’m really making this episode it’s because I think there’s all this confusion around what meditation is and hopefully if you do listen to this episode this it will help clear up some of the confusion around what it is.

[00:54] And so let’s start with meditation being a practice. Because that’s what it’s quite commonly perceived as being by almost everybody who doesn’t really know much about it.

And that’s not meant to cause any offence. It’s just the way it’s culturally sold. And so what I’m trying to explore and explain here is that meditation is not simply a practice. Because if you go down the path of it being just a practice, it leads to confusion and separation. Both things aren’t meditation. And the reason it leads to confusion, separation is because there’s so many types of meditation. So how is one to know what the best type is?

[01:34] Now, I made a podcast earlier about the types of meditation practice that science supports. And those were loving-kindness, gratitude and open awareness especially.

And looking at these practices now can’t give them the label meditation. I would give them all the label of mental exercise necessarily. And in a way, these shouldn’t be ignored as exercises. Because scientific studies do back them up.

[02:00] But what we’re exploring in this podcast is trying to clear up the confusion. Because if you are fairly seriously interested in meditation, there’s so many different paths you can go down. There’s a Buddhist path, there’s a Zen path, there’s a western more mindfulness-based path; there’s transcendental meditation. There are just so many different types that it can be very difficult to know, “Okay, should I go ahead and learn about all of them?”

[02:25] Because that’s effectively the path that I went down. When you become aware of what you’re actually doing, what this path actually is; it’s essentially a gathering of knowledge and trying to build the right picture in your mind of what meditation is. But the real question is how will I know a certain path, or a certain school of teaching is the truth? And even if say I learn about all the practices and bring all that information together, meditation then becomes a thing, a construction of my mind.

[02:56] And I have to say I became more aware and seeing this from reading Jiddu Krishnamurti. Through the clarity of his words, it really cuts through all the confusion around meditation.

[03:09] And so now we’ve got to this point where we realize that meditation is not simply just a practice. What is it then?

It’s simply awareness.

It’s not really anything else that you can describe through thought so well. Because it is not a product of thought.

[03:24] Through meditation you see the filters of the mind. As you listen to this podcast can you look at the object next to you and be aware of the filter; that is the thoughts you have about that object as you look at it?

For example, if you look at a tree, can you be aware of how your mind has already got a picture perception of tree; with the word, with the information it has around it and all this memory that it knows what a tree is? Because that’s how the mind operates on autopilot. It goes off its own memory and its own perceptions.

And so when you see things, it’s already based off your own perception.

[04:03] This is very clearly observed in relationships.

With your relationship with your father, your mother, people around you, your partners, your colleagues, whatever you will have in your mind a perception about what that person is. And when you meet that person and you have an interaction with them, everything is being filtered and going through that perception of what that person’s like.

And another person would have a different filter to what that other person’s like. And so, it begs the question, what’s the right filter?

[04:31] When you’re listening to this now you might be thinking, “Okay, I’m going to have a positive filter!” So, I’m going to see all situations of people in a positive light. However how realistic is this necessarily? Because negative thoughts do come up automatically.

[04:46] Having spent a weekend with Dr Patrizia Collard; who has been a mindfulness teacher for, I believe, almost twenty years, she talks about how she still has these things called NATS that she calls N.A.T.s. So negative automatic thoughts.

[04:59] And stepping back what is meditation?

We’ve said meditation is awareness. It is awareness of the filter of the mind that’s continually at play. Which if you listen to it now from a cultural standpoint sounds like it’s a lot of effort. But it’s not a question of effort.

[05:15] Because they’ve looked at the brains of these longtime yogi’s. And what they’ve found is that they don’t have an active part of the brain called the post cingulate; which is the part of the brain that’s about “selfing”. That is the part that builds the self through the mind.

And what was shown about these yogi’s is that this part of the brains is not active at all. And when they describe meditation practice, it’s described as being effortless. Which becomes clear when you get a deeper understanding of what meditation is. Because effort is a function of will and thought. And as such is limited.

[05:56] And this actually leads us nicely to talk about thoughts in general.

Because to understand the limitations of thoughts is to understand what meditation really is. Because thought is limited and we all live through our thinking and we’re believing that “I know”, “I am important”, “My problems are important”.

[06:16] And when you start to become aware of thought; you realise that it creates separation.

Continual absorption in thinking blocks your ability to connect to real life. Which is always happening in the moment. Everything else outside of this moment is the product of thought. It is a product of your memory and your own knowledge and thinking back to the past. Or a projection of this into the future. This is what Krishnamurti describes very well very clearly. And when you see it at play; by seeing I mean become aware of it, it’s the truth.

[06:48] So, meditation, awareness leads to an awareness of the limitations of habitual thoughts.

Now this isn’t a complete condemning of thought in general. Because, obviously, thought, thinking is an important process to function as a human being in terms of all the things that human beings have created through thought. Some of which are constructive some of which are destructive. But let’s not really go into that.

[07:13] Let’s try and sum up what meditation is in its simplest sense. That is awareness.

An awareness that isn’t constructed from thought.

An awareness that sees the limitations of thought.

An awareness that is passive; that is effortless.

An awareness that is understanding the mind. The key word being here understanding. It hasn’t understood the mind, it doesn’t know. It’s continually learning. It’s continually learning how one is in relationships to objects, to people, to situations.

[07:45] And so meditation is a way of life. It’s not simply an activity.

[07:51] That being said, that’s a good point to leave this podcast episode. If you do have any questions about meditation, then please feel free to hit me up on Instagram. I’m @lchiggsl. I will respond to any messages that I get. Take care guys.