What is the secret of meditation?

Q:

What is the secret of meditation?

A:

The secret of meditation is using a meditation technique. While it sounds obvious, those that are new to meditation assume that it’s the practice of “emptying the mind.” They sit, close their eyes, and expect all thoughts to effortlessly dissipate.

(Related question: How can I tell if I am "in" meditation?)

This doesn’t work because the nature of the mind is to think. Thinking is its job. It’s impossible to demand the mind to go against its own nature. However, the mind can arrive at a state of thoughtless awareness—meditation—by bringing it to focused, one-pointed awareness. This is the purpose of using a meditation technique.

There are many meditation techniques, each with the same goal: harness concentration so deeply that the mind enters thoughtless awareness. All meditation techniques are meant to focus the mind; it’s the object of focus that’s interchangeable. It may be an image, a mantra, an internal sound, a physical sensation or the breath.

No single meditation technique is better or lesser than another. The secret to meditation is finding the technique that most quickly helps the meditator focus their mind. This requires experimentation and time for the mind to grow used to the new technique. It’s best to sit with one technique for a few weeks before moving on.

It’s important to understand that meditation is not the technique itself. The technique is only a means to an end; it’s nothing more than a tool to reach a state of thoughtless awareness. Without it, meditation is nearly impossible.

(Related question: I'm struggling to get started with meditation; where should I begin?)

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Written by Julie Bernier
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Julie Bernier helps women find wellness from the inside out. She lives and teaches the ancient sciences of Ayurveda and yoga, combining the two to help clients naturally restore their inner balance for lasting well-being. Julie has journeyed to India many times over to study this wellness wisdom at its source.

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