Presence As An End In ItSelf
At this point in time, I’ve been meditating daily for a bit over a decade -admittedly with some stretches of time where I wasn’t, or maybe the occasional missed session when someone stayed the night.
Inevitably, if the conversation goes to meditation people talk about the health benefits, or the mental benefits, or something like that.
It’s always tricky because, yes, there’s that, but those are more like side-effects and not the point. If you see meditation as a means to an end and not the end in itself, you’re bound to not enjoy it very much and not really get it.
The above, I realise, might sound a bit elitist or exclusive (ie. if you’re meditating to get some kind of external benefit, you’re stupid and shouldn’t do it). Of course, this isn’t the intent.
The idea I’m conveying is more that if you sit and pause and wait, full of excitement and expectations, that life should feel different, you’re setting yourself up for failure. If anything, you’ll make the process harder than it needs to be and so not experience those benefits you crave. I like to think of meditation (a sentence which is ironic in itself) as a disciplined pause from the mental noise that covers up the present moment and Life itself. When you shift to that focus, sitting down and doing nothing ceases to feel boring or pointless and becomes luxurious and liberating.
So what should you aim for when you meditate? Nothing.
But that means truly nothing, and implies you also let go of the mental aspirations about things you need to figure out, problems you need to solve, past conversations you need to replay, opportunities you need to set-up, even groceries you need to shop for, anxieties about leaving the stove on, etc. Why let go of all that? Because when all those clouds are cleared the blue sky becomes visible and it’s beautiful, peaceful and vibrantly alive.
Naturally, this relates to just being, just being present. As you become accustomed or acquainted with presence, it becomes easier to rest in that uncluttered awareness and to let go of the mental humdrum of day-to-day life. I would even go as far as saying that what we think of day-to-day life isn’t true living. This maybe bold but, truly, we get so caught up in past and future, good and bad, right and wrong, regret and worry, all those mental abstractions that we very rarely are alive -in this case alive as in: in the present moment, which is the only moment there ever has been, ever is and ever will be.
Meditation for me is the practice of being presence and so the practice of being. Words fail me but the concept is there, beyond the trying to make sense of the words. Presence is being alive, now, and meditation is just the word we put on the conscious practice of presence and the disassociation with the mental noise that is unconsciousness.