The importance of meditation

Whether it has been provoked by human beings or it is merely a phenomenon of nature, one thing is clear: COVID-19 has forced people all over the world to remain at home and spend time with themselves. This is not an easy task for the majority of the population. Many of us might feel quickly agitated, annoyed or anxious. This can lead some people to experience a certain degree of restlessness or even worse, depression. Fortunately the practice of meditations can overcome these problems. While on the physical level it has been proven that meditation enhances the natural healing capacity of body and mind, and thus leads to an improved immune system, it is also believed that on the mental level meditation increases the level of genuine happiness by creating more realistic expectations about life and the people we are living with. Are you ready? Let’s have this thing explored.

By Gilles Van Hecke

Golden Temple, Amritsar, India


The ultimate goal of life

Many times when we compare human beings, we tend to focus on the differences. However, when we have a closer look we will find that all of us share the same goal in life: happiness. Unfortunately we do not always know what happiness exactly means and how we can keep it for a prolonged period of time. This stems from the habit pattern of the untrained mind. The untrained mind pursues pleasure after pleasure without realizing that this pursuit ultimately results in harmful actions and unhappiness.

Many nations believing that financial wealth is the key to happiness are both destroying themselves and others.

This can be demonstrated with numerous examples both on the micro- and macro-level. For instance, when someone eats sweets, he might experience a satisfying feeling. After a while, however, the satisfying feeling slowly fades away. The untrained mind of this person will think that happiness depends on having another sweet and so he will take another sweet. Unfortunately for this person the time of satisfaction becomes shorter and he will take another sweet and so on. As you can see from this very simplistic example, the pursuit of happiness by an untrained mind can easily turn into harmful actions for itself and thus creates unhappiness instead of happiness.

At the macro-level a similar pattern can be seen. Many nations believing that financial wealth is the key to happiness are both destroying themselves and others. For example, it is well known that heavy industries create both a lot of financial wealth and pollution. Thinking that financial wealth brings happiness, many countries are ignoring the disastrous consequences of these polluting industries on the climate. In trying to create more and more financial wealth, some countries are ultimately destroying the opportunity for both human beings and animals to live on this planet. Again, the untrained global consciousness ultimately leads to harmful actions to ourselves and brings nothing but unhappiness in the long term.

Meditation is the tool for accessing a life where there is nothing but the present moment.

As you might have concluded from these examples, happiness is not the pursuit of pleasure after pleasure. Ultimately the chasing after pleasures will create restlessness and unsatisfaction. So then what is happiness? True happiness is the state of mind in which one is completely at peace with himself and the world around. In this state there is nothing except the mere experience of the present moment. Many of us might have experienced this blissful state after an intensive work-out or during sex, only to see it disappear after a while. Meditation is the tool for accessing a life where there is nothing but the present moment.

Uncle and nephew spending time in unspoiled nature, Pokhara, Nepal.


Morality, concentration and wisdom

There are many kinds of meditation but ultimately there are three essential pillars that support and strengthen each other: morality (love and compassion), concentration and wisdom. These three concepts are interconnected and when we meditate on one topic, it will also influence our ability to meditate and progress on another topic. For example, when one meditates on love and compassion, he/she will find that after a while the mind becomes more pure and calm and that it will be easier to concentrate. When there is a higher degree of concentration, it will also be easier to acquire the ultimate goal which is insight in the nature of reality or wisdom. In the long term this delivers a confident and peaceful mind.

When one starts to meditate, it is preferred to start meditating on both love and compassion and concentration. Love and compassion will deliver a purer state of mind which makes it possible to concentrate more clearly on the breathe. More concentration in turn will deliver more awareness in daily life and naturally this will lead to a better moral life in which love and compassion prevail. As a result of this the mind will become more calm and one will be able to notice and experience a lot more beauty throughout daily life.

Boudhanath, a magical place in Kathmandu where love and compassion can be truly felt, Nepal


Discovering our true nature

After having established a certain degree of love and compassion and concentration, it will be possible to start meditating on wisdom. Wisdom in this regard means gaining insight in and understanding the nature of reality. It is also called Vipassana or to see things how they really are. The word Vipassana might ring a bell as there are free courses provided all over the world by S.N. Goenka. In this type of meditation one will explore his own body and mind. By realizing more and more subtle realities about oneself, naturally the meditator will come to understand more and more subtle realities about the world he/she lives in.

Once we understand and accept what is going on in the subconscious mind, it becomes possible to overcome fears.

The instructions for Vipassana meditation might sound easy, but the practice can be tough since it means one will slowly access and be confronted with the subconscious mind. For some of us this might sound scary since we do not know what we will find there. However, all human anxiety, negative thoughts, stress and misery are the result of our unknown thought processes in the subconscious mind. It is important to know what is going on at that level in order to liberate oneself from ungrounded fears that prevent us from developing our fullest potential. Once we understand and accept what is going on in the subconscious mind, it becomes possible to overcome fears. Worries and anxiety will gradually disappear and a lot more freedom and happiness will enter into our lives since it is always our subconscious mind that prevents us from living fully in the present moment.

Ultimately the whole practice of meditation brings one closer to his or her inner nature. When one meditates properly and consistently he or she will naturally find more inner peace. By gradually developing a more stable and peaceful state of mind, health harming phenomena such as anxiety, stress, worrying and fatigue will reduce. At the same time one will notice a healthier state of mind and body, a stronger immune system, more vital energy and more love, compassion and peace. Having read all about these advantages and having to spend a lot of time in lockdown, now might be the perfect moment to start meditating.

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Tushita Meditation Centre, Dharamsala, India. A perfect place for travellers and Indian nationals to learn about meditation.


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