There is no doubt that meditation can boost our mind, our mood and health. Meditation can transform the quality of our life. It can help us be peaceful and happy; less stressed, worried and agitated. Inevitably, it also improves symptoms of stress related physical conditions, and reduces pain. It controls depression, and promotes emotional well-being. It increases self-awareness. But unfortunately, most of us do not actually understand what meditation really is.
Many people, for instance, seem more preoccupied with their ‘posture’ while meditating. Their focus is on sitting on the floor, cross-legged, spine erect. Others spend hours searching the net or shopping for the perfect meditation mat, or candles. And there are some who are preoccupied with the music that they want to play to accompany their practice. However, if we do all this, but our mind continues to wander, it is not meditation. To reap benefits from meditation, we must understand what meditation is.
Meditation is all about making the mind still. The mind is a monkey that jumps from thought to thought. It swings like a monkey does, leaping from branch to branch. Sometimes, the mind jumps into the memories of the past, sometimes to the worries of tomorrow. The mind can produce a thought practically every second. This can become a whopping 50,000 thoughts per day. It is the mind that causes us to be depressed.
It causes us to be anxious and stressed, which can ultimately lead to depression, which in turn, can lead to suicidal thoughts or worse, the act of suicide itself. Unfortunately, ending our life, does not end our problems or misery. We will have to return to this world. We will be reborn to settle our unsettled deeds, our unredeemed Karma. Not only that, we will also have to pay for the act of suicide. Therefore, suicide is not a solution to problems or an escape from misery.
What we need to do is to eliminate stress and worry from our lives. How can we do that? By spending time in silence. That’s where meditation can help us. We have to tame the monkey mind. As long as the mind continues to jump from thought to thought, from one worry to another, we cannot meditate. We need to cut the ‘tail’ of the monkey mind. When we cut its ‘tail’, and tame the monkey, the monkey mind becomes a monk. The mind is disciplined. Then, we are in the pink of health, we are in a happy mood, we are relaxed, joyful because the monkey that had been troubling us all this while, has been tamed.
So, how do we cut the tail of the monkey mind? If we look at the word 'monkey' carefully, it has EY at the end. What is this EY? The EY is the tail that is Ever-Yelling and Ever-Yearning. The mind chatters constantly. Meditation is being able to quieten this incessant chattering, and calming that monkey, our mind. The way to calm the mind is through silence. We must make the mind still. It really doesn't matter what position we sit in, where we are —whether we are in a cave or our bedroom, or how we are sitting. What matters is: Can the mind be still? Can it be quiet?
Those who are experts in meditation, talk about that state of thoughtlessness which the Buddhists call mindfulness. This state of consciousness is when we are able to watch the mind, we are able to observe it as it jumps from thought to thought.
As we become conscious of our mind and we watch it as it goes here and there, the monkey mind begins to settle down, it quietens. However, the mind will not stop its monkey business, until we discipline it, silence it and eventually, make it into a monk. Yes, if we can reach that state of consciousness, then we can take charge of our life, our mind, our health, our mood. Remember, we must first understand what meditation is. What it is meant to do. What it implies. Once we do, we can be meditating all the time and we can become masters of our mind and our life.