"Meditation is being in tune with our inner universe."
Meditation is an ancient practice which has been employed for thousands of years in the search for the true nature of oneself.
There are many well documented benefits of meditation and reasons why people may practice - reduce stress and relax, become more focused and get into flow state, to calm the mind or to improve cognitive function. These are all beautiful by products of meditation and perfectfly valid reasons to meditate. Above all, it's a practice of becoming more myself as the process provides a glimpse of that which underlies the continuous mental activity, thought patterns and mind habits. This being which lies underneath the stream of thought has always existed, but doesn't usually get the air time. Thoughts are not bad and don't need shutting down, but thoughts without intention and attention can a lead to destructive or debilitating ends, of which I speak from direct experience. Meditation has demonstrated to me that there is a deeper reality beyond the surface of thoughts, which we all have access to and gives fresh new persepctive to our life.
The process of meditation usually follows the same pattern - set a point of focus (i.e. breath or mantra etc.), get distracted and notice being lost in thought, then return to the breath. Focus. Get distracted. Remember. Return to focus. Over and over again - that's why it's called practice. Each time we notice the mind has been pulled away and gently escort it back we strengthen the neural networks of attention. But we may also begin to notice reoccuring patterns of thought that show up whenever we meditate. This does not mean you are doing it wrong. We will certainly notice a mind that finds it difficult to remain focused, at the beginning at least. This does not mean you are doing it wrong. We may notice resistance to sitting on certain days or difficulty in sitting still...again, this does not mean you are doing it wrong.
Meditation, in my personal experience, is a means of tuning into reality. I began formally practicing meditation in 2010 and fundamentally the practice has shown me the nature of my mind, how my mind works when asked to focus - messy, demanding and seemingly untamable. However, it's only with direct experience and awareness of how the mind behaves did I have the possibility to begin transforming it.
In fact all these things are common in the face of meditation - the act setting aside time in a space you won't be distrurbed, closing your eyes to just be. How unnatural in our world where we've been taught to do, to create, strive, become, do productive things, to achieve and so on. There is a place for all these things, of course. But when the approach to life has always been out there, the moment we turn the gaze inwards, resistance is inevitable. Naturally, the mind fearing that has no use for the next 20 minutes, will no doubt throw everything at you in order to engage with it once more. Our practice is to notice this activity with curiosity, kindness and without judgment and over again return back to our point of focus. With continued practice we develop the awareness that the mind will do as it pleases during practice and during daily life, but with a strengthened attention and concentration, we need not always get caught up in the content of the mind. With this comes a calm seeing of the true nature of things.
Everything in our life gets filtered through the lens of the mind or in other words, we perceive everything with the mind - our perception shapes our lived reality. And perception is taking shape from the moment we are born. We take on the personalities and behaviours from parents, impressions are left on us from the environment in which we are raised, culture and media influence ideas, likes and dislikes and eventually through repetition and conditioning we hardwire into the brain habits, behaviours and mechanical responses to situations and triggers that follow us throughout our life. When we're not fully present moment by moment, we meet life with all this conditioning, rather than as it is, with the freshness that it deserves...because this moment has never happened before, although the mind thinks it has. The intelligent brain, to save energy will quickly process the moment based on everything it has previosuly learnt and embedded, so we interact through all of the stored information, even thought it may not serve us now. We become drawn to certain things, situations and people and form an aversion to others that make us uncomortable or invoke some distress - we may not truly understand why if we're not aware of the patterns and conditioning that we've formed. Meditation helps us notice this and to meet life as it is, in this moment...