What's the Point of Meditating?

I was just hanging with a girlfriend talking about another of our friends who just returned from a 10-day silence retreat (my amazing, life-changing hypnotist, Ilan), and we came to the subject of meditation. She asked me what the point of meditation is - why someone would want to do it and consider it a productive use of their time.

Meditation, like any spiritual practice, like yoga, studying spiritual texts, living according to the yamas and niyamas, like kirtan, satsang, and self-study (svadhyaya), is undertaken for one reason: to overcome suffering. Suffering is universal, and our minds are our captors. The whirling cycle of unproductive thinking (chitta vritti in Sanskrit) that keeps us awake, makes us feel insecure, fearful, angry, jealous and depressed, is the suffering we want to alleviate through spiritual practice.

With meditation specifically, we try to sit quietly with ourselves and clear the mind from thinking, even if just for a few minutes of empty spaciousness. We try to carry that openness with us throughout the day, so that we can stay level and calm amidst the ever-changing ups and downs of the world. We want to learn, through our spiritual practices, how to control the mind so that we can be blissful, totally freed from suffering and in control of the world we experience.

When we detach from our thoughts, from relying on the exterior world for happiness, from the delusion of the finite, we begin to actively learn how to create lasting happiness from within, and that is why we seek to develop a spiritual practice.


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