Meditation is most popularly thought of, as taught as, a technique that we do to relax or tranquillize our mind. However, it eventually becomes clear after time that something is off with this premise.
True meditation, we might eventually discover, is not something we do ‘in order to’ get a certain feeling. Efforts to do meditation to attain a certain feeling backfire sooner or later. What happens is we get attached to the process of meditation in order to achieve a projected peace in the future, rather than being with the experience here and now. Meditation quickly turns into a drug or even addiction — a quick fix, a cheap hit.
How can an activity we deem as pure as meditation turn into little more than a cheap hit? It stems from the premise we do meditation ‘in order to’ get a feeling.
This idea of ‘do x to get y’ pervades popular, scientific, spiritual and medical approaches to problem solving, to the degree we simply cannot imagine alternate frameworks, even if we try. I’ll be the first to acknowledge I myself am trapped in this frame in a great many ways. This is a major reason meditation, as adapted to fit in popular culture, simply fails to represent its true depth.
What options do we have? One is to drop formal meditation practice from our daily routine. By formal meditation, I mean the concentrated sits one does for a chosen time during or after which one experiences ‘benefit’. Rather, we can switch to a dispersed 24-hour framework for meditation, with meditation lasting only for the moment.
Also, we can constantly remind ourselves that meditation is the process of seeing clearly what we face, not to work towards a projected feeling in the future. By practicing meditation as a moment-to-moment process, we see it less and less a fix, and more and more a process through which we live and experience each moment.