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I ask this with a healthy skepticism.

What is meditation? Is it the style that is put forth in the texts or traditions, like Tibetan or Indian or whatever tradition? For example, sit down and dedicate time to meditate. And is the definition of meditation objective or is it a subjective experience/practice? For example, Marcus Aurelius' writing, Meditations. Can following a train of thought intentionally, not compulsively, be considered meditation?

I wish to question why we sit down to meditate for sometime. I have been giving answers on this site, giving so-called "practical advice" about sitting and meditating and then it struck me that I may be dulling the mind through this. Meditation seems to lend you to a certain calmness, which is good, but if I may say, a certain suggestibility.

I accept that the mind's activity is fairly ceaseless. Is this an altering of the state of mind in a sort of long term negative way?

What I mean is, it seems to me that sometimes I can't seem to distinguish between "dulling of the mind" and "calmness" through meditation.

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    Quite the opposite, sloth/torpor is one of the Five Hindrances that will be abandoned through meditation. See a similar post here: buddhism.stackexchange.com/questions/14043/… – santa100 Feb 17 '16 at 2:39
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    @santa100 My question is more about questioning about the whole experience than reading the text. What is your experience, not what you expect to experience. – esh Feb 17 '16 at 2:49
  • The big difference between a dull mind vs a calm mind is that the former's awareness level is very low. In a calm mind, the awareness is extremely sharp. The mind instantly cognize what's going on. It's just that it simply cognizes without any bias reaction. A common expression is: "in the seen there is only the seen". A dull mind couldn't even barely see anything. – santa100 Feb 18 '16 at 2:30
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It sounds like a result of the process of suppressing the mind. You don't want to do that. Just accept everything as it is.

My approach is more to do with the reversal of the roles of the thinking mind and awareness in ordinary life. Normally the thinking mind is in control and awareness takes a back seat, but through persistence it's become the opposite. This feels more like the thinking mind is just having a rest, rather than it being dulled. I can switch it on whenever I want and it works probably better than it used to.

There really is no need for meditation because you can just use life as the grinding stone for the self. It's something you can do all the time and is no different to your ordinary life plus perhaps the idea of throwing yourself into circumstances that would be beneficial to your refinement. All you have to do is stay in that unborn mind state as much as possible. It just eats through everything of its own accord, just as it should do in meditation.

  • There really is no need for meditation because you can just use life as the grinding stone for the self. I don't know why but I took to this point rather kindly. – esh Feb 17 '16 at 4:09
  • I have edited the question. Please check and modify your answer if you wish to. – esh Feb 17 '16 at 5:59
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Meditation can be described as

  • remove the roots with a view to develop revolution towards the aggregates whereby you do not attach or averse or deluded by its true nature to the sensation or unsatisfactoriness that follow when you perceive any corporeal form or mental abstraction as favorable, unfavorable and neutral
  • remove the 5 hindrances with a view to develop revolution towards the aggregates
  • understand the universal characteristics with a view to develop revolution towards the aggregates

Meditation should be practiced from the point you wake up to the point your fall to deep sleep. Sitting meditation is to sharpen your skills at applying mindfulness during the course of the day.

Calmness can lead to sloth and torpor if it is not balanced with effort. In which case you have to increase the frequency you move the mind into the object of attention even when it does not wander away.

Also be mindful of the arising and passing of sensations with equanimity to abandon greed, hatred and delusion. This is described in Pahāna Sutta, Avijja Pahana Sutta 2.

  • What is the object of attention, apart from the breath? Can it be something I am doing at work? You see how it is dynamic? – esh Feb 17 '16 at 4:19
  • You can choose Anapana and / or Sathipattana. Main point is to be aware of arising and passing of sensation and your perceiving something as favorable, unfavorable or neutral and limiting through proliferation which you are not aware of (dwelling in the past or future daydreams and fantasies though if is planning work it is OK while being aware). – Suminda Sirinath S. Dharmasena Feb 17 '16 at 5:44
  • I have edited the question, please check and modify your answer if you wish to. – esh Feb 17 '16 at 6:00
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"Meditation is a precise technique for resting the mind and attaining a state of consciousness that is totally different from the normal waking state. It is the means for fathoming all the levels of ourselves and finally experiencing the center of consciousness within. Meditation is not a part of any religion; it is a science, which means that the process of meditation follows a particular order, has definite principles, and produces results that can be verified." (https://yogainternational.com/article/view/the-real-meaning-of-meditation)

For the past year I have devoted myself to meditation & yoga. Every day i rise at 4am and begin yoga by 4:30am in order to prepare the body for the meditation session; meditation begins at 5:15 and usually lasts until 6am.

Its not easy. It wont make sense at first because you're mind is too addicted to sensory stimulation in your day to day life. It "feels better" to have your eyes open and to be interacting with your senses because that is all we've known in Western Society. Looking inward is dull at first and sitting with your eyes closed with "nothing to do" seems boring to someone caught in a web of habits formed subconsciously since birth. Dopamine plays a large part in your day to day decision making (see my explanation here https://cogsci.stackexchange.com/questions/13213/what-causes-dopamine-in-our-body) and the activities you choose to take part in every day can eventually take over your entire life without you noticing.

Over time, meditation becomes your source for peace, reflection, and appreciation for silence. The understanding and love for meditating is a relationship you must build with yourself. Its the most intimate relationship you will ever form in your life.Its not going to come after a week of practice, nor a month, nor (from my perspective) even after a year; but slowly, if you devote yourself to it every day, you will begin to understand the benefits in your waking life. You understand how to be mindful, how to limit speech, how to become aware of an emotion when it arises, but have the power not to act on it if you choose. I am just now beginning to see this in my own experiences, and a year ago today i would have had a very different definition for meditation.

Mindfulness = Meditation. You must be mindful in everything you do while going about your day to day activities. Slow down, be aware of everything as intensely as possible. Living in the NOW has been proven to limit the activity in your brain & allow you to remain calm throughout the day. Daydreaming, a wondering mind, disassociation, doing too many things at once.... all of these are signs of an out of control mind. You need to concentrate every effort on controlling this.

If you are to fully experience all life has to offer, in order to reach your highest potential as a human being, you need to quiet the waves of your mind. Meditation, mantras, & chanting are all ways for you to focus your brain on ONE thought wave at a time as opposed to hundreds; they're tools to use in order to reach the point of stillness that allows you to reflect and converse with the universe. If they do not make sense now, with repetition, these words will resonate with your heart over time and you will FEEL the validation in your soul.

Honestly, I'm even astounded I've been able to convey my own definition of meditation in such a clear and organized manner, a year ago this would not have been possible! It certainly wasn't as easy to attain this knowledge as it was to present it just now! Have faith, i promise its not just "dulling your senses", its shutting out the distractions so you can function at your fullest capability.

References:

https://yogainternational.com/article/view/the-real-meaning-of-meditation

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Meditation is not exclusive to Buddhism. I think that is what is confusing you.

First understand “meditation:”

What is meditation

Literally, it is just thought, reflection, contemplation, consideration. None of which leads to “dulling of the mind.”

Next, understand “Buddhist meditation:”

Buddhist meditation is just thought, reflection, contemplation, consideration of the lessons of Buddhism.

At its core, Buddhism is about reducing the suffering in the universe. If you decided to engage in some Buddhist meditation, all you would have to do to get started is engage in thought, reflection, contemplation, consideration of how to reduce the suffering in your own life and the lives of those around you. You might realize you have been treating your wife badly lately and recognize how you could stop doing that, and resolve to stop doing that. At that point, you are already well on your way.

So meditation is not nearly as complicated as you seem to think it is. And neither is Buddhist meditation. You don’t have to be in a certain pose or doing a certain kind of breathing, although some people like to do that. You don’t have to be going over certain tenets of scripture, although some people like to do that. You don’t have to attempt to completely empty your mind, although some people like to do that.

The reason that people sit when they meditate is because if you lay down, you might fall asleep! How is that for complicated and mysterious?

Also, you don’t have to be quiet. There is musical meditation. You can engage in chanting, for example.

An important thing to note is that when people try meditation — whether Buddhist or not — most of them report that it improved their lives.

A final thought: we evolved from earlier primates who literally sat around and ate leaves for 9 hours per day. That is a lot of meditation. It shouldn’t really surprise us that our brains and bodies enjoy some quiet time. Especially when we might have even more to think about than our distant ancestors.

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