What is meditation? It is sitting in a lotus position with your eyes are closed while you stop yourself from thinking about how to pay your bills and the laundry waiting to be put in the dryer? It is just clearing your mind and chanting “Om”? Meditation goes way beyond that.
Meditation is the act of clearing one’s mind and connecting with the universe. Sounds tricky but it’s really not. It’s also the path for consolidating one’s feeling and thoughts and learning to manager one’s emotions and feelings. Meditation is the path of the soul into obtaining peace and freeing oneself from suffering.
What is Suffering?
Suffering is the feeling of desire or need that cannot be met. It is a feeling in-acceptance of one’s current state. Suffering ensues from the craving of something and that craving not being attained. Be it food, wealth, happiness, money, health or material things, desire causes us to complain both consciously or unconsciously.
Most people address suffering by living life in a rat race. When one is born, he or she is taught that he or she must have wealth, fame or beauty to be truly happy. The person grows longing for love and affection. He desires acceptance from others. And thus these needs causes him to desire things. Once unmet, the expectation causes us to feel anxiety and brokenness.
Even good things cause suffering. There is nothing evil about wanting things, however they cause us to suffer. For example, wanting to eat delicious food causes us to crave for that food. If we rare not able to eat the said food, we feel a longing and thus this longing causes to feel unhappy.
Sources of Suffering
In Buddhism, Dukkha or suffering means something more than just suffering from pain or misery. Suffering can ensue from pleasure because when we feel pleasure, we desire more for it. This traps us in a never ending want and demand for pleasure.
The main aim of Buddhism is to free your mind, body and soul from the cycle of suffering caused by life and rebirth. But many do not fully understand what it truly means to suffer.
1. Bodily Needs – The most common cause of suffering is need to satisfy what your physical body wants and desires. Hunger causes pain and cravings. Sexual arousal can cause immoral and hurtful acts. The need for clothing causes vanity. Sicknesses causes pain and even death. And for humans, it is but natural to want to escape suffering.
All living things want to avoid suffering.
2. Emotional Needs – Emotional needs like love and acceptance as well as belongingness causes man to suffer. Unrequited love is one of the most common causes of depression and sadness. Wanting to win the approval of others causes us to feel uncomfortable. Some people go through hoops just to be wanted by their peers.
3. Financial Needs – Money is one of the greatest sources of suffering. When you were little, money meant little to you. Then when you went to school, you thought that a certain amount of earnings would make you happy. However when you achieved that amount, it did not suffice. You felt that YOU WANTED MORE.
Money is a number, and numbers are never ending. And thus if you root happiness with money, you will never ever be happy. This will cause you to live life struggling for the want and need of money.
4. Social Needs – Social needs is associated with emotional needs but it goes beyond that. Humans are said to be social animals and by that we long for others to want us and need us. We desire for power, popularity and achievement. Why? Because it gives us a feeling of fleeing happiness when people like us.
But once we are denied acceptance, we feel anger and resentment. We long for others to be “similar” to us knowing full well that others are never like us. Differences cause conflict and thus individuals suffer.
The Power of Meditation
Meditation is more than just sitting a lotus position. It goes way beyond clearing your mind of thoughts. Meditations is said to be one of the most important and powerful tenents of Buddhism. It was said the Buddha himself meditated before he died and left this plane towards Nirvana.
Why is meditation powerful? Because meditation allows you to disentangle yourself from the world and all the suffering it brings. Meditation allows you to push yourself beyond any pain or misery and rise up stronger.
Benefits of Meditations
1. Achieving inner peace
2. Obtaining the ability to live everyday despite all the struggles.
3. Gives the mind a safe place to recollect one’s self and manage it’s thoughts.
4. Allows you to manager grief, sadness and suffering.
5. Freeing one’s mind from desires and controlling cravings.
6. Gives you the ability to really connect with the world and sense things; it allows you to appreciate life more
7. It teaches you how to fully understand yourself.
8. Shows you the path of forgiveness; for yourself and others
9. Connects your mind and body.
10. Teaches you to love yourself and others.
How Can Meditation Fight Suffering?
Meditation gives your mind and soul power. It basically feeds your mind. It gives you the chance to just be quiet and accept things. It also allows you to manager your thoughts and clear your head from unreasonable desires.
As we have talked about, suffering comes from desire, anger and ignorance, but meditation teaches self control, peace and wisdom. And thus this causes a person to find balance and harmony. Buddhism is the Middle Way or the way of balance, not to strong or not to weak. And finding that balance is often done through meditation
1. Warding Off Desires – As humans, we are raised to want things and crave things. Our bodies cause us to feel pain and longing, hunger and sickness. But through meditation, we empower our minds to control those wants and needs. As a mendicant monk fasts and stays away from food yet he finds the strength to teach other kindness so could we.
People who devote their time to meditation can find that avoiding desires easier. They can learn how to say no to the demands of body yet they still live in joy.
2. It Allows You To Manager Pain – People get sick. They get heart broken, but through meditation, they can find peace and solace. By meditating, one can find respite from pain. A person can go through the worst disease and yet not find suffering if his mind is strong. He may feel some pain yet he accepts it as a part of life.
Being hurt by others also become bearable through meditation. One can meditate on why the person left and find peace instead of feeling hate and anger.
3. Meditation Frees You From Grief – Many people suffer when someone dies in their family. They suffer because they attach themselves to the loved one and fear that they can never go on with out their beloved. But through meditation, one can manage the feelings of hurt and despair. You can rise again and accept that life brings about death and that nothing truly lasts.
4. It gives you the ability to manager your emotions – Emotions are like water, they can create yet they can destroy. Anger causes people to hurt one another. Jealousy causes relationships to falter. Too much love causes a person who be selfish and even be obsesses.
When you meditate, you train your mind to move away from being selfish. Without selfishness, you can be free. Being free causes happiness.
Life and Suffering
As long as we live, we shall suffer. Until we reach Nirvana or complete Enlightenment we will go through some form of suffering. But meditation connects us to the Truth and it allows us to be strong and compassionate. So in order to live a life with little suffering, one must meditate.
We need to strengthen our souls and be able live life through any obstacles we face.