What is meditation?
“In its simplest and most general sense, meditation is a mental discipline involving attention regulation or concentration.”
This definition was developed and is used by the Australian Teachers of Meditation Association (ATMA) and the Gawler Foundation, here in Melbourne.
Meditation is also used in a generic sense to cover a wide range of mental activities. There are many ways to meditate, and there are many techniques of meditation. The best technique is the one that works for you. There is no right technique, higher or lower technique, there are as many techniques and teachers as there are people. Allow yourself to find the right technique and teacher that works for you.
A meditation technique is simply what we do when we meditate. We may direct our attention to various objects, such as the breath or body, a mantra, a thought or prayer, a visualisation or mental image, a physical object, a sense of being or stillness.
Meditation is a mental discipline, it requires discipline to develop and maintain a practice.
Traditionally, meditation is practiced to awaken us beyond the conditioned mind and habitual thinking, so the nature of reality can be revealed to us.
Why do people meditate?
Many people use meditation as an antidote to the chaos and business of modern life, as it has far-reaching benefits in our lives.
People come to meditation for many reasons (Lisa Forde, Australian Centre for Holistic Living):
- To improve their physical and mental health
- To improve their vitality and sense of clarity
- To increase their ability to focus and concentrate
- To improve their sleep
- To learn how to relax and let go
- To improve their resilience and sense of inner balance
- To deepen their spiritual connection
- And so on….
Meditation gives people the time, space and opportunity to slow down and reassess their next step. It allows us to become less reactive and to respond to the events in our lives with greater presence of mind.
Regular meditation practice brings about improved health, as the relaxation phase gives our body a chance to step out of the fight-and-flight response initiated by our stressful modern lives, and to regain its natural equilibrium, allowing our immune system to function more efficiently.