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With “Mindfulness” cool all of a sudden, there’s a lot of confusion about the point of meditation, what it is, and when to do it.
The point of meditation isn’t to be peaceful, to be better than where you are now, or to get away from everything.
The point isn’t to get anywhere—this is a Journey without Goal. The point is to be right here: raw, open, present, fiercely available, with a sense of humor and an allegiance not to pleasure or to being “right” but rather to learning and opening and helping others.
There are, literally, thousands of meditations. I grew up in the Buddhist tradition, and even within that one tradition, there are many traditions and forms and techniques.
But there is only one point: as they say, “all Dharma agree at one point.” That is, to come back from our neurosis, our self-involvement, the well-intentioned but tricky ways we seek to protect ourselves from truth…to reality. A reality that is impermanent, ever-changing, not solid…and yet luminous with intelligence and beauty.
It’s best to do it 2 times a day: first thing in the morning, last thing at night.
If you’re a busy-bee, as most Americans are, you can just do it for 5 minutes in the morning, and a minute before dreams. It will wake you up to life, instead of your own stories, in the morning. It will take you out of stress and into your body before dreams, helping those who suffer from insomnia. Here’s my one-minute meditation instruction video (or watch below).
The point isn’t to be better. There’s self-aggression in wanting to be “better” than oneself. The point is to be okay with yourself—which, ironically, allows you to improve. There is no perfect, but there is this path. Walk it.
5 minutes in the morning, a few a night. Then you can do more, and seek out group practice, if so inspired. I personally recommend the Open Nights at your local Shambhala Center—they’re free, and no one will try and get you to join anything.
Enjoy! And be genuine. Let us know if you try it: two times a day, every day, even just for a few minutes in comments here.
Yours in the Vision of an Enlightened Society,