At our weekly satsang we usually begin with meditation; it is a practice about which many people have questions, or report having some difficulty. Perhaps the primary problem is a result of having preconceived ideas about what the experience of meditation should be like. I first learned meditation 40 years ago, practiced on and off for 20 years before adopting a regular daily routine. During those years I learned at least a dozen different meditation techniques and for a while would become confused in trying to decide which one to select, often trying multiple techniques during a single sitting because I didn't feel sufficiently settled. In recent years I almost always use what is variously called a Being meditation, or Non-Doing meditation, or Allowing meditation. It's about meditation without efforting. Not all spiritual teachers place emphasis on meditation, and some spiritual seekers find meditation challenging. Each of us must find the path and practices with which we resonate and are comfortable.
Years later I chuckle at Pema Chodron’s words “If it weren’t for my mind my meditation would be excellent.”Meditation is ubiquitous in spiritual communities but can it be defined and what is its purpose? It takes so many diverse forms: sitting or moving, eyes open or closed, guided or not, short or lengthy, vocalized or silent, individual or group, body positioned or relaxed, with a concentrated object, image, sound, vibration or none, secular or religious, frequent or not, with dance, or chant or singing, or just mindfulness, etc.Some teachers emphasize meditation as the most important practice while others downplay or dismiss its importance. For me, meditation is a tool, a technique, for entering into a perspective that looks beyond the ordinary egoic thinking mind into a space of open awareness, awareness without an object, without definition. Although meditation remains a daily morning practice, it’s no longer limited to that, rather I find myself in frequent moments of meditation throughout most days, and often a sense that meditation is the resident backdrop for all the engagements of everyday life.
The best attitude for doing the meditation is to forget about results. Forget about what will happen when you do the meditation -- just do it. When you meditate, you might not feel your Presence, but that is fine. Just the doing of the meditation is what is needed. Sometimes you will feel present, sometimes you won't. Sometimes you will feel wonderful, sometimes you'll feel miserable. These factors do not determine the value of meditation. What determines the value of meditation is that you do the meditation. If you really do it, in time you'll become present mainly because you will not go along with the judgments and preferences of the ego. You tell yourself that for 20 minutes a day, whatever your ego says, you're going to do it. This attitude by itself brings the true will, which brings true Presence and detachment from the ego. Meditation is oriented towards Presence.
~ A.H. Almaas
Man, in order to escape his conflicts, has invented many forms of meditation. These have been based on desire, will, and the urge for achievement, and imply conflict and a struggle to arrive. This conscious, deliberate striving is always within the limits of a conditioned mind, and in this there is no freedom. All effort to meditate is the denial of meditation. Meditation is the ending of thought. It is only then that there is a different dimension which is beyond time.
~ Jiddu Krishnamurti
Whenever you meditate and you come upon beautiful spaces, immediately pray to existence: "Let my joy be showered over every being - conscious, unconscious. I don't want any personal claim over it."
Real meditation is not about mastering a technique; it's about letting go of control. This is meditation. Anything else is actually a form of concentration. Meditation and concentration are two different things. Concentration is a discipline; concentration is a way in which we are actually directing or guiding or controlling our experience. Meditation is letting go of control, letting go of guiding our experience in any way whatsoever. The foundation of True Meditation is that we are letting go of control.
The thought "I am meditating" is an ego-thought. If real meditation is taking place, this thought cannot arise.
~ Annamalai Swami
Meditation teaches us how to relate to life directly, so we can truly experience the present moment, free from conceptual overlay.
~ Pema Chodron
. . . meditation is used for quieting the mind. You use the mind to quiet the mind. When the mind is quiet enough this infinite being that you are becomes obvious. That is the whole purpose of meditation. If anyone gets his mind quiet enough, he cannot help but see this infinite being that he is because it's only the thoughts that cover It. And the mind is nothing but thoughts. So, meditation is used to get the mind quieter, until you get it so quiet that you see your Self, your real Self.
~ Lester Levenson
Meditation is very simple. It means to surrender the mind, the body and the world from moment to moment to the silent presence in which they appear.
~ Francis Lucille
Meditation is the way to knowing and beholding the eternal, indestructible, essential center of our being,
~ Rudolf Steiner
Meditation should be absolutely necessary in every educational system, because meditation is not Hindu, not Christian, not Buddhist. Meditation has nothing to do with any religion. It has nothing to do with any belief. Meditation does not require you to believe in God first, heaven and hell, Jesus Christ as the only begotten son. It needs no belief of any kind. Meditation is an inquiry, a search, a pilgrimage towards your own center. And the person who knows himself cannot do anything wrong. That is an impossibility. The person who realizes himself needs no morality. Morality is needed by blind people.
Meditating is not a matter of saying I am going to meditate. It is, just for a moment retreating from the need to do anything and instead just be.
Meditation is the breaking
of the addiction to
any other moment except
the one you inhabit.
Meditation can be uncomfortable
because you are going through
Your attention is in the Now.
You feel the urge to escape.
The restlessness, the desire for more,
the resistance to being where you are.
It takes courage to remain.
But the remaining is what heals.
And you eventually discover:
There is no greater joy
than being with yourself.
~ Jeff Foster
For the moment,
or for as long as you believe that you are the body-mind,
you must continue with meditation.
~ Nisargadatta Maharaj
Solve all your problems through meditation. Exchange unprofitable religious speculations for actual God-contact. Clear your mind of dogmatic theological debris; let in the fresh, healing waters of direct perception. Attune yourself to the active inner Guidance; the Divine Voice has the answer to every dilemma of life. Though man's ingenuity for getting himself into trouble appears to be endless, the Infinite Succor is no less resourceful.
~ Lahiri Mahasaya
The purpose of meditation is to awaken in us the skylike nature of mind, and to introduce us to that which we really are, our unchanging pure awareness that underlies the whole of life and death. In the stillness and silence of meditation, we glimpse and return to that deep inner nature that we so long ago lost sight of amid the busyness and distraction of our minds.
~ Sogyal Rinpoche
Meditation is the only means to the harmonious development of the body, mind and soul.
~ Maharishi Mahesh Yogi
Meditation is waiting on God
~ Mahatma Gandhi
Effortless and choiceless awareness is our real nature. If we can attain it or be in that state, it is all right. But one cannot reach it without effort, the effort of deliberate meditation. All the age-long vasanas (habitual tendencies) carry the mind outward and turn it to external objects. All such thoughts have to be given up and the mind turned inward. For that, effort is necessary for most people.
~ Ramana Maharshi
Meditation in the early morning hours can assist in keeping the mind focused inward. For many, this helps sustain your attention on remaining the perceiver of all activities for much of the day. In breaking the habit of gross identification, meditation is a most useful tool. It trains the mind to become singularly focused and keeps attention inward. Meditation in the morning curbs the habit of outward identification and can build an awareness and familiarity in consciousness of the I AM state.
~ Jac O'Keeffe
The only true meditation is the constant impersonal witnessing of all that takes place in one's life as mere movements in the universal Consciousness.
~ Ramesh Balsekar
Meditation is not a way of making your mind quiet. It's a way of entering into the quiet that's already there - buried under the 50,000 thoughts the average person thinks every day.
~ Deepak Chopra
Meditation is not a way to enlightenment, nor is it a method of achieving anything at all. It is peace and blessedness itself. It is the actualization of wisdom, the ultimate truth of the oneness of things.
My way of teaching does not include the reading of books. Meditation of half and hour to one hour is not enough. You can meditate until you are eighty years old, but it will not serve the purpose. You will still have continuous thoughts. Try to be without thoughts for one minute every day. That is sufficient. Our method is to remain thoughtless. Your real nature is meditation, remain thoughtless at all the times.
What's encouraging about meditation is that even if we shut down, we can no longer shut down in ignorance. We see very clearly that we're closing off. That in itself begins to illuminate the darkness of ignorance.
~ Pema Chodron
Meditation is neither a means to an end nor something to perfect. Meditation done correctly is an expression of Reality, not a path to it. Meditation is the art of allowing everything to simply be in the deepest possible way. The silence and stillness of meditation is the bedrock upon which this teaching rests. True Meditation has no direction or goal. It is pure wordless surrounded, pure silent prayer. All methods aiming at achieving a certain state of mind are limited, impermanent, and conditioned. True meditation is effortless stillness, abidance as primordial being.
When you realize your integral connection with the Absolute, you will realize in every sand particle, in every dust particle, everywhere is God himself. That is meditation. You need not close your eyes and sit in the meditation hall. The moment you are aware of this, you are in a state of meditation. That is the way to be happy. Otherwise you are happy inside the meditation hall and unhappy outside.
~ Swami Krishnananda
Meditation is painful in the beginning but it bestows immortal bliss and supreme joy in the end.
~ Swami Sivananda
Meditation is neither concentration nor relaxation. It is a sort of homecoming.
Meditation is the only intentional, systematic human activity which at bottom is about not trying to improve yourself or get anywhere else, but simply to realize where you already are.
~ Jon Kabat-Zinn
The final obstacle in meditation is ecstasy; you feel great bliss and happiness and want to stay in that ecstasy. Do not yield to it but pass on to the next stage which is great calm. The calm is higher than ecstasy and it merges into samadhi.
~ Ramana Maharshi
One method we use to help us on the path is mindfulness. Becoming the witness. Watching yourself continuously. Watching your thoughts. Watching your actions. Sitting in meditation and watching what goes on in your mind. Not trying to change anything or correct anything. Just observing. Becoming the witness to your thoughts in meditation, and to your actions in the waking state. The trouble is we compare ourselves with others or we compare what we read in books. We read about people who go there and become enlightened all of a sudden, they awaken, they have all kinds of good feelings. We shouldn't judge these things. Everyone is divine. Everyone will eventually awaken. Do not look at any body else, at the feelings they have or they don't have. You are unique in your own imitable way. You are you.
~ Robert Adams
If you want to reach a state of bliss, then go beyond your ego and the internal dialogue. Make a decision to relinquish the need to control, the need to be approved, and the need to judge. Those are the three things the ego is doing all the time. It's very important to be aware of them every time.
~ Deepak Chopra
Meditate for ten minutes today focusing on the single idea that you are literally melting. Your mind and your body are melting like an ice cube in the sun. Melt to nothing.
~ Jac O’keeffe
In meditation, our thoughts and emotions can become like clouds that dwell and pass away. Good and comfortable, pleasing and difficult and painful - all of this comes and goes. So the essence of meditation is training in something that is quite radical and definitely not the habitual pattern of the species: and that is to stay with ourselves no matter what is happening, without putting labels of good and bad, right and wrong, pure and impure, on top of our experience.
~ Pema Chodron
Your thoughts have no roots, they have no home; they wander just like clouds. So you need not fight them, you need not be against them, you need not even try to stop thoughts. This should become a deep understanding in you, because whenever a person becomes interested in meditation he starts trying to stop thinking. And if you try to stop thoughts they will never be stopped, because the very effort to stop is a thought, the very effort to meditate is a thought, the very effort to attain buddhahood is a thought. And how can you stop a thought by another thought? How can you stop mind by creating another mind? Then you will be clinging to the other. And this will go on and on, ad nauseam; then there is no end to it. Don't fight - because who will fight? Who are you? Just a thought, so don't make yourself a battleground of one thought fighting another. Rather, be a witness, you just watch thoughts floating. They stop, but not by your stopping. They stop by your becoming more aware, not by any effort on your part to stop them.
Dudjom Rinpoche used to say that a beginner should practice meditation in short sessions. Practice for four or five minutes, then take a short break of just one minute. During the break, let go of the method, but do not let go of your mindfulness altogether. Sometimes when you have been struggling to practice, curiously, the very moment when you take a break from the method - if you are still mindful and present - is the moment when meditation actually happens. That is why the break is just as important a part of meditation as the sitting itself. Sometimes I tell my students who are having problems with their practice to practice during the break and take a break during their meditation!
~ Sogyal Rinpoche
Meditation is the journey from sound to silence, from movement to stillness, from a limited identity to unlimited space.
~ Sri Ravi Shankar
Meditation is the breaking of the addiction to any other moment except the one you inhabit. Meditation can be uncomfortable because you are going through withdrawal. Your attention is in the Now. You feel the urge to escape. The restlessness, the desire for more, the resistance to being where you are. It takes courage to remain. But the remaining is what heals. And you eventually discover:There is no greater joy than being with yourself.
~ Jeff Foster
True meditation never stops! This is why there is nothing to do. No practice. Simply be who you already are! I am giving you nothing and taking away nothing, only pointing to that which you already are.
Meditation is the dissolution of thoughts in eternal awareness or pure consciousness without objectification, knowing without thinking, merging finitude in infinity.
The purpose of meditation is to find the meditator. When you look for the meditator, you won't find him, her, or it. All you'll find is silent Emptiness. In finding Emptiness, the mind stops. If you let it, Emptiness will stop the mind--unless you run back into samsara, into the mind's drama of thinking, striving, and confusion. When you allow Emptiness to stop your mind, you'll awaken and realize that you are the Emptiness. You'll realize that you are not the mind or the body or any meditative phenomena. You are Emptiness. Emptiness means limitless, boundless, Pure Consciousness.
Don't do anything – no repetition of mantra, no repetition of the name of god – just watch whatever the mind is doing. Don't disturb it, don't prevent it, don't repress it; don't do anything at all on your part. You just be a watcher, and the miracle of watching is meditation. As you watch, slowly mind becomes empty of thoughts; but you are not falling asleep, you are becoming more alert, more aware.
When you are practicing Zen Meditation do not try and stop your thinking. Let it stop by itself. If something comes into your mind, let it come in, and let it go out. It will not stay long. When you try and stop your thinking, it means you are bothered by it. Do not be bothered by anything.
~ Shunryu Suzuki
When you meditate, the ego rises and you become the meditator.
In this process, you objectify Reality,
which is actually who YOU truly are.
So the best meditation is to simply keep quiet here.
Don't follow any thought and don't activate the mind.
This is true meditation.
Knowing that you are meditating is not true meditation.
When you keep quiet here, there is no meditator.
There is nothing to achieve in the future,
because everything is already here.
The meditator rises from here.
When you keep quiet that is no meditator,
no meditation and
no object of meditation.
This is Existence-Consciousness-Bliss Itself.
It is in this instant, in this space,
It is who you are, desireless, Perfect Self.
In the twinkling of an eye you are free!
Better indeed is knowledge than mechanical practice. Better than knowledge is meditation. But better still is surrender in love, because there follows immediate peace.
~ Bhagavad Gita
Meditation means putting the mind aside so that it no longer interferes with reality and you can see things as they are. Why does the mind interfere at all? ¯ because the mind is created by society. It is society's agent within you; it is not in your service, remember!
First meditate on impermanence. Otherwise, your Dharma practice might become merely an aid to your ambitions for this life. Why should we meditate on impermanence? To turn our minds away from this life. Meditating on impermanence makes us realize that all the phenomena of appearance and existence, of samsara and nirvana, are impermanent. As a result, the mind does not get caught up in this life. This is the purpose of meditation on impermanence. If your mind hasn’t turned away from this life, then your meditation on impermanence has been without purpose. First, turn your mind away from this life by meditating on impermanence. Then meditate on the faults of samsara. The purpose of meditation on the faults of samsara is to turn the mind away from the entirety of samsara.
~ Gampopa (1079– 1153)
Our deep conditioning from school exams, grades, and the like gives us the habit of looking at every achievement competitively, in terms of where we stand. How are we doing: are we better, equal, or worse than others on the same journey? Such evaluation of our position becomes a real obstacle in spiritual life, for it constantly leads us to look at spiritual evolution in comparative terms. Someone tells you they have visions of lights when they meditate. You never have had such a vision. This fills you with feelings of inadequacy and jealousy. On the other hand, you may sometimes feel yourself leaving the body when you meditate. Your friends don't experience this. This fills you with a subtle spiritual pride that feeds your ego. Each person is drawn to a different set of practices and responds in his or her own way. Individual differences are not better or worse, merely different. If we forgo judging, we come to understand that each of us has a unique predicament that requires a unique journey. While we share the overall journey, everyone's particular experiences are his or her own. No set of experiences is a prerequisite for enlightenment. People have become enlightened in all ways. Just be what you are. The experiences along the way are not enlightenment. So if you don't see lights or meet remarkable beings on other planes, or if your body doesn't shake, or if you don't feel the greatest peace, or even if nothing seems to happen in meditation, don't compare or judge. Just keep going. To compare yourself with others is to forget the uniqueness of your own journey.
~ Ram Dass