I first sat to meditate with a buddhist monk in Burma. We began with five minutes. Back straight, lotus position, my body crying in discomfort. “Focus on your breath,” he said.
That was 8 years ago. Since then, I’ve probably spent over a thousand hours in meditation. That’s a long time to be spent observing the back of your eyelids.
Thankfully, I’ve learned a thing or two. I believe, while I am in no way a master, that I’ve gained a glimpse into the essence of what is true meditation.
You see, you are pure consciousness. This is the part of you that is aware. It is the part of you that simply is. It is beyond thought, it is beyond emotion, it is beyond any form. When you meditate, you sit in the seat of your consciousness and simply watch. You watch as thoughts arise. You watch as emotions arise.
When you focus on something, you are flowing the energy of your consciousness towards that object which brings that thing further into reality. You can see this powerfully when you meditate. Push away a thought and it gets stronger. Think about it and it becomes stronger.
So when you fight an emotion or thought, you’re only giving it more energy. You learn this quickly in meditation. You can’t fight your mind and win.
So what happens when you stop flowing energy towards (i.e. focusing on) your thoughts and emotions? Where does the energy go?
The answer is that it flows back in on itself. Consciousness becomes aware of consciousness. The same way that by focusing on your thoughts and emotions, they get stronger, when you focus on your consciousness, it becomes stronger — more magnetized.
What happens if you do this enough is that the power of your pure consciousness becomes stronger than any other force in this world. No matter how emotional, how triggered, how stressed you get, nothing can pull you out of that place.
Once you realize this, you come to understand that when you are meditating, you are, in essence charging the batteries of your pure consciousness. The more it charges the more it becomes the most dominant force in your life.
When you have done this enough, you become free. You no longer have to fear this world because nothing can pull you from your awareness. You can simply sit in your awareness of being and watch as even pain, sadness, loss, or struggle swirls around you.
A helpful tip to reaching this place is, when you notice anything come up (whether a thought or an emotion or a sound), simply ask yourself: “is this me?” If it is not you, remove your attention from it, and put your attention back on whatever “you” is.
This is what we practice when we meditate. This is what it means to become an enlightened being. You don’t have to be on a mountaintop to do this. You can get to the place that, no matter where you are, you never forget who or what you are. And you get to live in the joy of that awareness.