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What is the Goal of Meditation?
A Spiritual Perspective on Meditation

This article about the purpose of meditation is a part of the Yoga Practice section of our Guide to Spiritual Yoga for Beginners.

What Meditation is Not

The goal of meditation is not to produce a sense of a calm or eliminate your anxiety.

 

The goal of meditation is not to fix or correct or “purify” your inner life or perfect your mental health. 

 

The goal of meditation is not to transport yourself to some other realm or place outside of experience (where you are no longer subject to the vicissitudes and demands of inner and outer life). 

 

And the goal of meditation is not any kind of “self-mastery. (In fact, the pursuit of something like “self-mastery often reinforces the very problem that meditation is intended to subvert.)

What Meditation Is: The Purpose or Goal of Meditation

What is the goal of meditation? The goal in meditation is to become directly aware of how your attention is habitually and automatically pre-occupied, and to notice the role that this pre-occupation  plays in determining who/what you think you are. Most basically, the goal in meditation is the experience of freedom from these habitual ways of being absorbed by inner/outer life.

Freedom from these habitual ways of being absorbed by inner/outer life does not entail no longer be subject to inner/outer life; your awareness is irrevocably determined by the structural elements of human life—elements that do not conform to your will, such as the capacities/vulnerabilities of embodiment, social, historical, cultural, linguistic factors, etc.—and include the very conditions that have motivated you to want to improve your life (and also the very conditions that have allowed you to read and comprehend this article). 

You did not determine these conditions; these conditions preceded “you”. These conditions are not subject to your will, but rather have given you your will. And because you could never become free of these basic structural elements of experience, “freedom” is not no longer being determined by these elements. Rather, you realize your freedom in becoming aware of the way(s) in which your awareness is always already determined. Or, stated differently, freedom is self-awareness.

We typically think of “self-awareness” in the context of attempting to learn our own personal, idiosyncratic ways of reproducing destructive habits. We typically seek “self-awareness” when we’re attempting to address some difficulty in our life, to reveal our personal unconscious habits that prevent us from attaining what we desire. Indeed, becoming aware of how your attention is habitually and automatically pre-occupied with the world will reveal your addictive ways of interpreting your experience that are producing and re-producing your existing habits of engagement with your inner/outer life (e.g., with things, people, thoughts/feelings, yourself, etc.). But the purpose of meditation is something different. The purpose of meditation is not to identify any specific (destructive) pre-occupation, but is rather to notice the very impulse that characterizes pre-occupation itself: the impulse to self-transcend (or, desire). In meditation, we develop the capacity to notice the ways that our attention is in the grip of (or possessed by) various incarnations of longing.

Specifically, in meditation we are able to see how our everyday interpretation of the world is a kind of desire-based interpretation, one that is defining reality (i.e., things, people, places, situations, etc.) in terms of our own needs—a fact that is obvious when we consider that we’re only ever really paying attention to what’s relevant to/for ourselves. This basic desire is another non-optional element of our experience, but becomes a “problem”—i.e., the source of suffering/grief—when it is aimed at the pursuit of some incarnation of personal immortality/wholeness. What does this mean?

The background sense of dis-ease/dissatisfaction that characterizes our everyday sense of self strikes us as a kind of personal inadequacy (as in, “there’s something missing in me” or “I’m not good enough”). In order to remedy this personal inadequacy—so we can finally feel “at peace”, never impelled to strive for anything again—we attempt to “fill up” or “clean up” our sense of self with whatever we think will grant us permanent security/peace. This is often more status/power/money/fame—whatever we think will command/demand others’ recognition—or something like perfect mental health or inner “purity” (as in, I am disgusted with myself and want to get rid of all the “bad” in me) or even spiritual enlightenment. Acutely aware of this core vulnerability, we protect the very sense of self—our “identity” or “ego”—that we are attempting to transcend, always running: running away from our own inner discomfort, running towards whatever we think will solidify our ego in the world and add weight to my independent existence, all so that I will matter more, so that I will be secured in and by the world—so that I will be more “real”.

Who decides if my existence carries more weight? Other people. But I want to add more weight to my individual existence so that I don’t have to care about others’ opinions. And yet I need others’ [positive] opinions in order to acquire more weight. So, in order to not care about others’ opinions, I need to care about others’ opinions. And if the weight of my personal existence depends on the assent of other people, I am never “in control” of the weight of my existence. (And we hate not being in control, if only because this lack of control “reminds” me that I don’t matter or that I am not enough.)

monk meditating lotus pose dhyana mudra spiritual yoga practice what is the goal of medita
You realize your freedom in becoming aware of the way(s) in which your awareness is always already determined. Or, stated differently, freedom is self-awareness.

Why Meditate?

Reasons to Meditate Beyond “Anxiety Relief”:
The “Spiritual” Benefits of Meditation

In becoming aware of the conditions of your individual existence, you begin to realize your freedom. You begin to see that “you” are (and always were and always will be) embedded in structures of dependence that precede and exceed you (among which are such non-optional conditions as embodiment and various social, historical, cultural, linguistic factors). And you also begin to see that the conditions that are determining your experience are quite personal, and include not just your norms and values, presuppositions and biases, but also your various compulsions/anxieties, rumination, and impulses/motivations. These are not optional features of your experience that may or may not have, but are rather are constituive of your very being in the world: your thinking, feeling, behaving, and even your perceiving. Your personal suffering is exacerbated (or eased) by your habitual forms of being in the world. 

 

Our personal suffering is characterized by, roughly, the discomfort of feeling as though we are not at home/peace with ourselves or our life situation, not “on top of” our circumstances; that is, we never feel fully complete, never in control of—or adequate to—ourselves and our circumstances. This personal suffering is just the result of the habitual ways of being (thinking, feeling, perceiving, behaving) that we’ve developed and inherited in order to deal with our sense of inadequacy, often to avoid (and attempt to eliminate once and for all) the anxiety/lack/fear (and other attendant difficult emotions/thoughts), by attempting to make our ‘independent’ sense of self “whole” or “complete”, reconciled in/with its world in a final way—which we think will occur as we accumulate more attention/recognition (via, usually, fame or money or status/status or enlightenment, etc.), or by something like “purifying” ourselves of our guilt/defilement. Meditation discloses to us the ways in which we are habitually and automatically compelled/impelled to engage in/with the world (including ourselves). 

Anxiety Relief & Other “Worldly” Benefits of Meditation

Most basically, meditation requires sitting with the more challenging aspects of your inner life (or “mind”)—your anxieties, painful emotions, difficult thoughts, etc.—without trying to fix/correct/transcend them. To avoid our inner discomfort, we often avoid the things, people, and situations that produce this discomfort, thus narrowing our lives as we isolate ourselves in order to protect ourselves (from, it turns out, ourselves). And freedom is unavailable to those who remain imprisoned by themselves.

 

Meditation is a tool of self-awareness. By becoming aware of the ways in which our attention is habitually and automatically pre-occupied, we become aware of our habits before we are consumed by them. Mindfulness meditation helps us to cultivate the capacity to remain with our unwanted thoughts and painful emotions so that our lives aren’t determined by (avoiding) them. 

 

As we become accustomed to protecting ourselves against our anxieties with mindless habits, we also become increasingly intolerant of discomfort. As our avoidance behaviours become more entrenched—as they become a part of our instinctive self—they prevent us from pursuing anything (including our most meaningful goals and projects) that requires experiencing the discomfort associated with change. 

Becoming aware of (by sitting with) these avoidance habits prevents your painful emotions and difficult thoughts from continuing to dictate the terms of your life. Learning to sit with our anxieties ensures that we wont “waste” our life running from them. Learning to sit with our anxieties cultivates equanimity and openness—that is, more flexible ways of being in the world that aren’t inhibited and prohibited by habitually rigid (self-involved) ways of thinking, feeling, perceiving, and acting. When we no longer run from the distressing/frightening appearances in our inner lives, we free ourselves from the limitations imposed by the pursuit of invulnerability that was motivated by our distress/fear, and thus more readily and willingly open ourselves up in ways that we don’t feel compelled to control.

When you no longer avoid the more challenging parts of your inner life—when accept yourself more—you are more inclined to honour your own needs and inspirations and better able to see how your resources and fulfillment are tied up in the tangled emotions connected precisely to the things you avoid.

We are then able to think clearly, seriously, and carefully about how we are spending our limited time/attention. We are better positioned to spend more time making connections with those who share similar interests. We can spend more time developing new skills that are related to our motivations (feeling more capable and confident as a result). And, as difficult as this might seem, we spend less time focused on what we lack, and more time focused on our contributions and productive qualities. Notice that we are not emphasizing focusing on what you should reduce/limit/lower/cut/decrease/minimize in your life, but rather on what you can pursue/gain/obtain and how you can expand/grow. This begins with becoming aware of how you are instinctively spending your time right now.

 

This also means that your existing yoga/spiritual/meditation practice will no longer be an “escape” from your everyday life, but will rather allow you experience all of your life more fully, more deeply. In other words, the goal of yoga or meditation is not “stress relief”, if only because successfully becoming “less stressed” doesn’t mean that you’ll return to a life that no longer produces stress or, perhaps less ideal, stress that feels meaningless.

Here are a few benefits of meditation (and are reasons that people often meditate). Notice that these and other desired benefits of meditation are the result of being able to sit with uncomfortable dimensions of our inner life (a capacity developed in and through meditation):

  • Self-acceptance (and self-compassion and self-love, etc.) is not something that you “do”, but is rather a result of being able to sit with your anxieties rather than run from them. This is also the basis for clarity and something like self-confidence.

  • Fearlessness is a result of no longer running from your difficult thoughts and emotions.  

  • Resilience is a result of cultivating the capacity of to sit with our stress/anxiety.  

  • Selflessness is a result of no longer being subject to the motivations to self-protect/elevate/perfect. This cannot be accomplished in focusing on—or trying to fix—the self. 

  • Personal “growth” requires that we open ourselves up in ways that we don’t control. This is a result of freeing ourselves from limitations imposed by our habitual self’s desire for security/recognition.

  • Creativity is a result of a less ossified sense of self and of fewer rigid habits of being (perceiving, acting, thinking, feeling, behaving). This ossification is tied to our need for self-protection/elevation/perfection (like a wave in the ocean, trying to become its own entity).

  • Compassion requires becoming less hypersensitive to—and therefore less automatically and habitually cognizant of—(what we perceive to be) our own imperfections, because this means that we become less hypersensitive to—and therefore less automatically and habitually cognizant of—(what we perceive to be) these same shortcomings in others. 

  • Healthy relationships and deeper connection require no longer being determined by the destructive aspects of your instinctive self. They also require benefit from being less needy of others’ recognition (and the pursuit of those things—fame/money/status, etc.—that we think will command/demand their attention). Instead, we allow others to give us their free recognition (but don’t notice if/when we don’t receive it because it is no longer overdetermining what we have/do/become).

  • Ultimately, the capacity to sit with ourselves allows us to be more comfortable with our freedom: the uncertainty of being undefined.

lotus flower in mud purpose goal of meditation spiritual yoga practice reasons to meditate
Most basically, meditation requires sitting with the more challenging aspects of your inner life (or “mind”)—your anxieties, painful emotions, difficult thoughts, etc.—without trying to fix/correct/transcend them.

What is the Goal of Meditation?
The Purpose/Goal of Meditation, Re-Visited

The benefits of meditation remain hidden to us if we enter into meditation with the intent to fix/perfect ourselves or our inner/outer life. (And this is the context within which meditation is often pursued.) Learning to be aware of this objective should be a core component of all meditation training.

 

Meditation—or any yoga practice, for that matter—pursued in order to remedy some aspect of one’s “self”—to secure/purify one’s identity against the sense of inner lack—will only reinforce the problem of suffering that we were attempting to understand/deconstruct or subvert. Trying to destroy some aspect of our inner life keeps us entrenched in the dichotomy of avoiding x and pursuing y: the more I want to purify myself, the more hypersensitive I am to shame—I shame easily, I shame myself, I shame others, etc.—and I become more and more pre-occupied with shame, with my “self” and what it lacks, and I become more and more avoidant of the things/people/situations that make me “feel” my lack. In other words, the desire to find some kind of permanent security/peace/purity actually reinforces the basic sense of incompleteness that I was trying to eliminate. 

And so the specific way you practice meditation is far less relevant than being vigilant about the impulse to fix/eliminate/transcend. Ultimately, any meditation practice must remain vigilant about this very impulse—to fix/eliminate or to be something/somewhere else, to transcend—without, of course, trying to get rid of it. Meditation is ultimately about bearing witness to the ways our awareness is seemingly compelled (or impelled or motivated or absorbed) beyond itself—i.e., bearing witness to the (self-moving) self-transcending character of being. In other words, meditation is ultimately about bearing witness to the very impulse to self-transcend. Among other things, this also means noticing the very impulse to become a something, a wholly self-determining self, and this of course includes the impulse to acquire even the “positive” benefits of meditation listed above. In yoga, this is the foundation of self-awareness. (In yoga, self-awareness is self-transcendence.)

What is yoga? Yoga is not the strategic and permanent destruction of the suffering of our inadequacies; yoga just is what remains once we’ve abandoned the quest to “fill up” ourselves with the world (in order to “clean up” our sense of deficiency). This abandonment occurs as a result of bearing direct witness to the incarnations of the impulse to self-transcend. What remains is a more direct experience of one’s “entire” self. What remains, in other words, is self-awareness. In yoga, self-awareness is self-transcendence. This begins and ends with no longer fleeing yourself.

This article about the purpose meditation is part of our content on a spiritual approach to yoga practice. Below, we answer commonly-asked questions about meditation and provide short videos on meditation.

campfire yoga meditation purpose goal benefits of meditation
Meditation is ultimately about bearing witness to the ways our awareness is seemingly compelled (or impelled or motivated or absorbed) beyond itself—i.e., bearing witness to the (self-moving) self-transcending character of being. In other words, meditation is ultimately about bearing witness to the very impulse to self-transcend. In yoga, this is the foundation of self-awareness.

Frequently Asked Questions about Meditation (and Yoga Meditation)

Is the Goal of Meditation to Clear Your Mind or “Stop” Your Thoughts?

Clearing the mind is a consequence of how you pay attention. A sense of relative stillness of the mind is a result, most commonly of something like focused attention (mantra, mindfulness, breath control, etc.). A relatively stiller mind allows one to adopt a different stance towards our experience, allowing us to notice the ways in which our awareness is habitually pre-occupied (without getting taken in/up by this pre-occupation). This stance is often described as (and feels like) “detachment”, which just is a description of a different sense that you have of some particular thing (that is, noticing that “you” are not reducible to “it”). But, strictly speaking, meditation is not the practice of actively “clearing” one’s mind (and is also not just the practice of passively doing so).

So, is the ultimate goal in meditation to clear your mind or stop your thoughts? Is meditation about having no thoughts (and “just being” in the “present moment”)? These consequences may or may not occur in our practice, but whether it happens doesn’t actually matter. What matters in meditation is your stance: are you looking to stop your thinking (this is not, strictly speaking, the purpose of meditation) or are you looking to become aware of how your awareness is automatically pre-occupied? If you are, indeed, looking to become aware of how your awareness is automatically pre-occupied, then focusing your attention on something (breath, mantra, etc.) will create the space to distance yourself from (i.e., adopt a different stance towards) your thinking/feeling. Of course, this new stance will change what shows up, but meditation trains access to the stance of observing the content and form of experience rather than being taken in/up by either. The adoption of this different stance has the effect of “clearing your mind”.

Is the Goal in Meditation to Control Your Senses?

In traditional yoga texts, it was somewhat common to conceive of attention as something like the consequence of our sense organs ‘reaching out’ into the world to grasp things (sights, sounds, etc.). This conception would characterize yoga/meditation as being a quest to (and/or result of) control one’s senses (the effect of which is something like not being taken in/up by the habitual self-movement of attending). This practice of controlling or withdrawing one’s senses, however, isn’t a matter of actively stopping all attention, but is rather the practice/result of focusing one’s attention (using any number of methods or meditation practices, including mindfulness meditation). The momentum of focusing one’s attention allows us to notice our habitual ways of reaching out or being absorbed in/with the world, (including—especially—the very impulse to ‘reach out’ or self-transcend). 

Is the Goal in Meditation “Detachment”? What is Detachment in Meditation?

To say that one is “detached” from something is just a description of a new sense that one has of said thing. Our awareness is so absorbed in (or consumed by) certain things that we don’t even notice the extent to which these things are determining our awareness. Some of these things are not optional, such as embodiment. To detach from something in our inner life entails noticing that it exists (which entails noticing what it’s doing) and noticing that “you”—as awareness/consciousness—are not reducible to “it”. Becoming “detached” just is becoming aware of what is determining your awareness, especially the impulse to self-transcend (also called ‘desire’). This begins by simply sitting with ourselves, noticing (or “detaching” from) our habitual ways of running from our inner discomfort. This has the effect of something like loosening the grip that our habitual self has on the world/self/others.

 

The result of detachment (sometimes also called “letting go” or “surrendering”) is not that you end up in some other place outside of (or prior to) experience, but is, rather, the production of a different relationship with what is. This actually feels something like being more connected with life—and with others and with oneself—as we become “detached” from our habitual ways of seeing/organizing the world according to our self-interest. In other words, our experience is less infected with the kind of “self-consciousness” that re-produces suffering, the kind of self-consciousness that wants to keep us at a distance from our conditions/dependence.

What About the Various Different Types of Meditation? What Do Different Types of Meditation Do?

Ultimately, the cultivation of one’s spirituality is the cultivation of one’s sense of wholeness, and this involves, among other things, the recognition that “you”—that is, your individual existence—are not self-contained, do not self-exist, and, instead,  “belong”, so to speak, to something that exceeds and precedes you. Some traditions name this something, others don’t (the latter which tend to discourage any kind of striving). Either way, one’s wholeness is not personal but is the consequence of the recognition that one participates in a/the wholeness that precedes/exceeds it. In some traditions, the core practice involves something like “merging/uniting” with that to which you belong (be it a particular thing or with experience in general), which generally involves the cultivation of deep focus and can involve the cultivation of a particular state of being. (A sense of “merging” or “uniting” is not an altogether inaccurate description of the result of bearing witness to the ways in which your awareness is determined, a sense that is also sometimes called “non-dual” experience.) Some forms of traditional meditation are based on the cultivation of specific traits (such as compassion, etc.), but these individual practices are part of larger contexts that teach some version of what we’ve described herein.

Is Meditation Simply Sitting Quietly?

We respond to this question about whether meditation is “just sitting” in our article, Is Meditation Just Sitting in Silence? In this short article, we discuss the purpose of settling one’s attention for meditation (including active and passive ways of doing so) and how meditation is ultimately not just a way to deal with personal anxiety or troubling thinking/feeling, but is rather a tool of self-understanding and Self-understanding. 

What is the Best Time of Day to Meditate?

There’s a sense in which the “best” time to meditate is when it is most inconvenient/uncomfortable to do so. In other words, the best time of day (or times of day) to meditate might be when your habits of avoidance/desire are particularly strong. This is, of course, easier for those who are not in full control of when they meditate (e.g., participants in a meditation class/group/retreat, or monks). However, for those of us wanting to begin a simple practice at home, the optimal time to meditate might be simply whenever you’ll actually do it. 

 

Strictly speaking, the best time to meditate (or the ideal amount of meditation) depends on the individual and their circumstances. The most important/difficult part of meditation is simply beginning the meditation—i.e., intervening in the momentum of the habitual self. As a practice, meditation is just this: intervention that does not itself become mindless ritual—intervention that forgets itself. 

 

Because mornings and nights are typically the most controllable parts of our day (as they are framed by our need to sleep), maintaining a morning/night ritual may be less difficult than interrupting the momentum of the habitual self at later parts of the day (say, in the afternoon, or at work). From a worldly perspective, a little ‘silence’ in the morning —which we may not adequately understand until we’ve experienced it—can provide a different vantage point from which to plan our days, determine (and even interrogate) our priorities, and re-connect with our values. This (less pre-absorbed) frame of mind can also produce a different interpretation of our stress; we are better able to distinguish meaningful stress from meaningless stress.

 

But this isn’t always true. Some find the afternoon to be an ideal time fo day to meditate, as meditation can serve as a way of withdrawing from one’s entanglement with the demands of the day.

What is the best time of day to meditate? Does it matter when you meditate? Ultimately, not at all. As long as you are clear about why you’re meditating—to settle your attention in order to notice how your habitual self is pre-occupied—then you can even experiment with meditating at different times or situations just to notice how your attention is wrapped up. You might choose to meditate when angry. Or when particularly sad. Or perhaps prior to (or after) certain experiences that produce stress or discomfort. Whereas the situation is more important than the location proper, you can explore meditating in different locations: in bed, at work, before or after yoga and breathwork, waiting at the doctor’s office, etc.. The point of your meditation, however, is not to fix/solve your discomfort, but rather to witness whatever is happening.

Depending on the individual, embedding one’s meditation practice in accompanying rituals may be more/less of a hinderance (e.g., some meditate at a special time/place, some meditate on a special cushion, some meditate in particular clothing, some meditate with particular items or as part of a larger ritual, etc.). Though rituals remain an important part of changing ourselves (i.e., our new behaviours become habit through practicing them “ritually”), the core habit we’re attempting in meditation practice is becoming aware. And so, ultimately, while there may be a convenient time to cultivate focused attention and mindfulness, there is, strictly speaking, no best time to meditate, no best time to notice how your habitual self is automatically pre-occupied.

How Do You Know if You Are Meditating Properly?

We respond to this question about evaluating your meditation practice in our article, How Do I know if I Meditate Correctly? To meditate “correctly” requires little more than simply paying attention. In this article, we briefly review the ultimate purpose of meditation and then discuss the ideal object of our paying attention. To meditate correctly requires noticing the play of discomfort/distraction and the self-fleeing that it motivates. To meditate correctly requires being in a position to not be taken in/up by discomfort/distraction during meditation. To meditate correctly means being able to notice whatever is happening, including the re-production of one’s self.

ocean wave samsara purpose of yoga meditation spiritual yoga practice
What is yoga? Yoga is not the strategic and permanent destruction of the suffering of our inadequacies; yoga just is what remains once we’ve abandoned the quest to “fill up” ourselves with the world (in order to “clean up” our sense of deficiency). This abandonment occurs as a result of bearing direct witness to the incarnations of the impulse to self-transcend. What remains is a more direct experience of one’s “entire” self. What remains, in other words, is self-awareness. In yoga, self-awareness is self-transcendence. This begins and ends with no longer fleeing yourself.

Meditation Practice

Mindfulness Meditation: Mindfulness of Breathing

Mindfulness of breathing (called ānāpānasati in Pali, the language in which original Buddhist texts were composed) does not require that you actively carry out a task (such as chant/visualize something, manipulate one’s breathing, etc.). Meditations that include active tasking can more readily (though certainly not necessarily) encourage weaponizing one’s meditation in order to push away distractions or “bad” thoughts/feelings. In a mindfulness of breathing practice, you remain passive in paying attention to a phenomenon that is always already happening: your breathing. The experience of this more passive practice is something like “receiving” the breath (with the body). In mindfulness of breathing, you simply return your attention to the feeling of your breath whenever you notice that your attention has wandered. Noticing that you’re distracted is actually a “win” because, in the moment you notice that you’re distracted, you’ve become directly aware of how your attention was pre-occupying itself. Among other things, this meditation cultivates focus and passivity, both of which are tremendously important for both the worldly benefits of meditation and for the more significant realizations about the nature of self/experience discussed above. And while this meditation is certainly not just for beginners, it remains a simple (and portable) way of preparing yourself for other forms of meditation that you may find intriguing.

However, no meditation practice—including mindfulness of breathing—is immune to the spiritually-destructive effects of one’s intention to fix oneself with meditation. But even if this intention is present, there’s no need to repress/suppress it; simply notice that it is/was happening.

Being with Yourself: A Simple Mindfulness of Breathing [ānāpānasati] Exercise.

This exercise can be done in any position (or yoga pose), including whatever position you happen to be in while reading this.

  1. Start by placing your attention on your breathing body. Your body is always already breathing. For this exercise, you don’t need to take control of (or try to fix) your breath (e.g., make it longer/deeper/smoother, etc.). Simply find your breath with your attention. Notice where you feel your breath most (nose, chest, abdomen?).

  2. Simply feel the body breathe. There’s no need to do anything: theres nothing to obtain/achieve or make happen. Your body knows how to breathe. Breath leads, attention follows. Dont get ahead of the breath: let it come to you. “Receive” the breath with the body. Feel just one breath at a time. Just one. And then another. Nothing to be done. Feel the breath from the inside of your body. 

  3. Whenever your mind wanders, return your attention to your already-breathing body. (Let your mind know that you’ll re-visit important thoughts once you're finished.) Because this is an exercise in awareness, every time you’ve noticed that you’re distracted, you’ve “won”.

 

Notice that these instructions run counter to the more common advice to (actively) “breathe”. This mindfulness exercise is intended to help you cultivate a greater capacity for passively “letting go” (which always entails letting go of ones preoccupation with oneself).

mindfulness meditation best time to meditate
The most important/difficult part of meditation is simply beginning the meditation—i.e., intervening in the momentum of the habitual self. As a practice, meditation is just this: intervention that does not itself become mindless ritual—intervention that forgets itself. 

Meditation & Spiritual Yoga for Beginners: Things to Remember

lotus flower mindfulness meditation
No meditation practice... is immune to the spiritually-destructive effects of one’s intention to fix oneself with meditation. But even if this intention is present, theres no need to repress/suppress it; simply notice that it is/was happening.

Further Reading

This article on the objective of meditation is part of our general guide on spiritual yoga that focuses on spiritual yoga practice. We respond to other questions about meditation in this article (above) and other articles (e.g., Is meditation ‘detachment’? Is meditation ‘clearing the mind’? Is meditation ‘controlling the senses’? What do different forms of meditation accomplish? How do I know if I meditate correctly? What is the best time to meditate? Is meditation just ‘sitting quietly’?). 

For those looking to further explore the meditation in the context of abstention, a discussion about fasting is available in our article about the spiritual benefits of abstinence and fasting. We also discuss the worldly benefits of meditation in our description of our private meditation coaching services.

For those looking to further explore the theme of “inner lack”, we recommend the work of, David R. Loy. We recommend his concise and accessible book, Money, Sex, War, Karma: Notes for a Buddhist Revolution (2008, Wisdom Publications).

 

For those looking to further explore the themes of freedom, determinacy, and an ethics of openness, see Canadian philosopher John Russons 2017 article, ‘Freedom and Passivity: Attention, Work, and Language’. John Russons YouTube Channel contains an excellent introductions/companions to many of the great (and dense) works of philosophy, with a focus on existentialism, phenomenology, Greek philosophy, and German Idealism.

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