What is the first thing that comes to mind when you think of meditation? You probably imagine a person with closed eyes trying to make the mind blank. This image, which is the idea most people have about meditation, is far removed from the actual practice.
To understand the depth and transformative power of meditation, it is necessary to talk about the concept of Citta Bhavana.“Bhavana” means “development” or“cultivation.” When combined with “citta,” meaning “heart” or “mind,” the term “Citta Bhavana” arises, referring to the“cultivation of the heart-mind.”
The Buddha’s teachings are vast and diverse, addressing different facets of human existence and consciousness. At the core of these teachings is the idea that our experiences and the suffering or joy they entail are primarily the product of our mind’s perceptions and reactions. How we perceive, react to and internalize experiences can determine the state of our mental and emotional well-being.
Citta Bhavana reminds us that the mind, with all its complexities, can be cultivated and refined like a garden. Just as gardeners water beneficial plants and eliminate harmful ones, Citta Bhavana seeks to cultivate positive mental qualities and eliminate negative ones.
The heart of Citta Bhavana is meditation. Through its practice we can observe the nature of our mind, recognizing patterns, attachments, aversions and underlying tendencies. This involves becoming aware of our thoughts and being present in each moment, observing experiences without judgment. It is about recognizing emotions, sensations and thoughts as they arise and letting them pass without becoming entangled in them.
Meditation is not just an isolated practice that we do for a few minutes a day, it is a way of living, of perceiving the world and relating to it. It is a conscious attitude towards life, which affects how we act, think and feel in every moment. Life becomes a path of constant learning and growth. Each experience, whether positive or negative, is seen as an opportunity to deepen our understanding of ourselves and the universe.
Important Aspects of Buddhist Meditation
Before going into detail about the different types of meditation that exist within Buddhism, let’s talk about some fundamental aspects that are rarely talked about and are essential for the practice of meditation to be truly transformative:
Sati, translated as “mindfulness” or “awareness,” is one of the most central concepts in Buddhist teachings. It is not simply a passive form of mindfulness. It is an active, present awareness that is deliberately applied to momentary experience. It is being fully present to each action, thought or feeling without judgment. Rather than getting lost in distractions or the constant flow of our thoughts, sati encourages us to return again and again to the present moment.
The Buddha described sati as “the only way” for the purification of beings, the overcoming of pain and sadness, the extinction of suffering and dissatisfaction, the realization of the true path and the realization of Nibbāna, the end of suffering. This blunt statement highlights the essence of sati as a transformative tool.
It manifests itself in various forms. In meditation, for example, one can practice mindfulness of the breath (ānāpānasati), where the focus is on the rhythm and sensations of the breath. When the mind becomes distracted, one uses sati to acknowledge the distraction and kindly redirects attention back to the breath. But sati is not limited to sitting meditation. It can and should be practiced in daily life. When walking, eating, listening, listening, talking, or engaging in any activity, we can apply sati to be fully present in the activity and experience it fully. This form of practice turns ordinary activities into moments of deep awareness and contemplation.
Sati is fundamental to the development of wisdom (panna). By observing our experiences with mindfulness, we begin to see the true nature of reality. We become aware of the three fundamental characteristics of existence according to Buddhist teachings: impermanence (anicca), suffering or dissatisfaction (dukkha) and the absence of a permanent or unchanging self (anatta). These realities, when directly seen and fully understood, are fundamental to freeing the mind from bondage and delusion.
For example, by observing a feeling of anger with sati, rather than reacting impulsively, we can see how this feeling arises, how it manifests, and how it eventually fades. This simple observation can reveal the impermanence of anger and reduce our tendency to identify with it or react in a harmful way.
In addition, sati helps us develop other essential qualities such as equanimity (upekkha) and compassion (karuna). By being aware of our own struggles and sufferings, we naturally develop greater empathy for others and a genuine desire to alleviate suffering in the world.
However, it is essential to understand that sati is not an end in itself. It is a tool, a path to deeper understanding and ultimate liberation. Like any tool, it requires practice and refinement. There may be moments of frustration or discouragement, but it is precisely the constant application of sati that eventually leads to profound discoveries and transformations.
It is a jewel at the heart of Buddhism, offering clear guidance for those seeking to live with greater awareness, understanding and love. By cultivating this mindfulness in our daily lives, we not only transform our own experience but also contribute positively to the world around us.
In Buddhist teachings, pañña is wisdom or discernment and is considered one of the highest qualities to cultivate on the path to awakening and liberation from suffering. It is not simply an accumulation of knowledge or a keen intellect. While in many cultures wisdom may be associated with the accumulation of knowledge over the years or the ability to offer sagacious advice, in Buddhism, wisdom is a deep and direct understanding of the true nature of reality. It goes beyond intellectual understanding into a territory of direct, experiential comprehension.
The development of pañña entails the perception of the three universal characteristics of existence mentioned above:
- Anicca: Everything is impermanent. Nothing in this world is static or immutable. True understanding of this characteristic leads to a deeper acceptance of the changes and vicissitudes of life.
- Dukkha: Every conditioned phenomenon carries within it the seed of suffering or dissatisfaction. This characteristic does not mean that life is only suffering, but that there is an inherent dissatisfaction in clinging to things that are naturally changeable.
- Anatta: Nothing possesses an intrinsic self, a permanent “I”. This is perhaps the most radical and counterintuitive teaching in Buddhism, challenging our usual notions of identity and existence.
To cultivate pañña, it is not enough to study or reflect on these characteristics. While study and reflection are valuable, true wisdom arises from direct experience, often cultivated through meditation. In meditation, one observes in a sustained and concentrated way the processes of the mind and body, discovering firsthand the three characteristics in action.
For example, by observing sensations in the body, one may notice how they constantly arise and disappear, demonstrating anicca. Similarly, by observing thoughts, emotions and desires, one can see how clinging to them or resisting them leads to dukkha. Going even deeper, one can begin to unravel the constructs of “I” and “mine,” perceiving anatta in direct experience.
True wisdom leads to liberation from suffering. By clearly seeing the nature of reality, we begin to free ourselves from the attachments, aversions and self-deceptions that cause suffering. This liberation is known in Buddhism as Nibbāna (or Nirvana in Sanskrit), the cessation of suffering, and is the ultimate end or goal of the spiritual path.
It is important to understand that pañña is not an elitist quality reserved for an“enlightened” few; instead, it is accessible to anyone willing to observe, investigate and understand the nature of one’s experience and reality.
Viriya translates as “effort“,“vigor” or “energy“. In Buddhist teachings, Viriya is one of the five spiritual powers or forces (Indriya) and one of the seven factors of enlightenment (Bojjhanga). But what exactly does this concept imply and how does it manifest in practice? It is not simply effort in a general sense; it is a type of energy or effort directed towards well-being and spiritual awakening. One could think of it as a dynamic energy that propels the practitioner toward virtue, understanding, and ultimately liberation.
In many cultures effort can be seen as a struggle or a tension. In Buddhism, however, Viriya is a joyful, joyful effort. It is not the energy of someone who is exhausted by struggle, but the life force of someone inspired by purpose.
This factor plays a fundamental role in multiple aspects of Buddhist practice:
- Avoiding and overcoming the negative: Part of Viriya is the energy and effort to prevent unhealthy states of mind from arising and to overcome them if they have already arisen. This might include, for example, working to overcome anger, resentment or laziness.
- Cultivating and maintaining the positive: In addition to overcoming the negative, Viriya impels the practitioner to actively cultivate positive qualities, such as loving-kindness (metta) and understanding (pañña), and to maintain these qualities once they have arisen.
- Meditation: In meditative practice, Viriya is fundamental. It helps to maintain continuity of attention, to overcome distraction and drowsiness, and to deepen the practice. Without Viriya, meditation can become dull or superficial.
It is very important that Viriya be properly balanced. Too much energy or effort can lead to agitation, anxiety or exhaustion. On the other hand, a lack of Viriya can manifest as laziness, apathy or discouragement. Therefore, it is essential to balance it with other factors, such as tranquility (passaddhi) and concentration (samādhi).
Samādhi (concentration), is one of the pillars of developing the mind and cultivating deep understanding. Although often described as concentration, the depth and breadth of Samādhi goes beyond simple focused attention. It is a total, unified immersion in the object of meditation.
In Buddhism, Samādhi refers to a state of mind in which the mind becomes unidirectional, stable and undispersed. It is the ability to maintain attention continuously on an object or subject without distraction. As we deepen this concentration, the mind becomes calmer, clearer and more powerfully attentive.
Within the Noble Eightfold Path, Samādhi is part of the last triad which includes Right Effort (Samma-Vāyāma), Right Mindfulness (Samma-Sati) and Right Concentration (Samma-Samādhi). These three elements work together in meditation: effort propels us to practice, mindfulness connects us to the present moment, and concentration deepens our practice by allowing us to fully immerse ourselves in the experience.
There are different stages and depths of concentration. In the Theravāda tradition, for example, the four jhānas, or meditative states of deep absorption, are described. These are progressive levels of concentration:
- First jhāna: Here, dispersion and sensual desire are abandoned, and ecstasy (pīti) and bliss or happiness (sukha) born of detachment from such desires are experienced. There is still thought and reflection (vitakka and vicāra).
- Second jhāna: Thought and reflection disappear, and there is a deeper state of ecstasy and bliss.
- Third jhāna: Ecstasy fades and a balanced sense of bliss and contentment with full concentration is experienced.
- Fourth jhāna: Both happiness and suffering disappear, leading to a state of balance and purity of mind with equanimity and mindfulness.
Although Samādhi is intensely cultivated during meditative practices, its benefits extend to daily life. A mind trained in Samādhi is less reactive, more mindful and can focus better on any task. In addition, by having a clear and concentrated mind, it is easier to face challenges, make decisions and remain balanced in difficult situations.
It is very important to remember that concentration alone, while valuable, does not lead directly to liberation. It must go hand in hand with pañña (wisdom). A deeply concentrated mind can penetrate into the nature of reality and see things as they are, leading to an understanding of the aforementioned Three Characteristics of Existence: impermanence (anicca), unsatisfactoriness (dukkha) and no-self (anatta). Thus, Samādhi paves the way for transformative wisdom.
Types of Buddhist Meditation
In this section we are going to talk about some of the different types of meditative practices that we can find in the various traditions of Buddhism. As we have already mentioned, the true essence of meditation is in living mindfully and mindfully, applying the principles described above in our day-to-day lives, but here we will discuss specific meditation practices.
The traditional methods of meditation within Buddhism are those proposed by the Buddha himself directly. These practices, although we can find them in the different Buddhist currents, are preserved especially within Theravada Buddhism, which is considered the most faithful to the original teachings of Buddha.
Samatha: Tranquility Meditation
Samatha is the practice of concentration or mental calm. The primary objective of this type of meditation is to develop a calm, serene and concentrated mind. Through constant practice, we seek to achieve a state where the mind is not easily disturbed by distractions, agitation or restlessness. In this way, Samatha helps us to establish a solid foundation upon which we can cultivate other advanced meditative practices, such as Vipassana, which focuses on clear or penetrating perception.
One of the distinctive features of Samatha is that it is based on having a fixed meditation object. This object can be the breath, a mantra, a visual image or any other focal point. The practitioner directs his or her attention steadily and without interruption to this object. The choice of a meditation object is intended to simplify the perceptual field of the mind, facilitating the concentration process.
Samatha practice is not an instantaneous process; it requires time, patience and dedication. Progress is measured in terms of the depth and stability of concentration achieved. Over time, we may come to experience deeper and deeper states of concentration, known as “jhanas” in Buddhism. These jhanas are deep meditative states that reflect advanced levels of concentration and absorption.
The goal is not concentration per se, but also mental purification. By focusing on a specific object and keeping the mind away from distractions, we begin to become more aware of mental impurities that may arise, such as anger, desire or confusion. By recognizing these impurities, we can actively work on freeing ourselves from them.
One of the most immediate and palpable results of Samatha practice is a sense of tranquility and inner peace. By reducing mental turbulence, the practitioner feels more connected to himself, more grounded in the present and more at peace with his surroundings. This calmness is not simply an absence of agitation, but an active presence of serenity. With the reduction of distractions and agitation, the mind becomes clearer and sharper. Our capacity for discernment is sharpened, allowing us to see things with greater clarity and precision. This mental clarity is of great value, not only in meditative practice, but also in daily life, where it can help us make more informed decisions and respond to situations with greater equanimity.
Vipassana (Penetrating Vision)
Vipassana is often translated as “deep vision” or “insight” and is a meditative technique that seeks to unveil the true nature of reality through direct observation and personal experience.
Since its inception, Vipassana has been presented as a tool to purify the mind and free the individual from suffering. It is taught that the root of suffering stems from mental impurities and that, through direct observation of the changing nature of the mind and body, one can begin to unravel and free oneself from these impurities. In doing so, we can achieve a balanced mind, free of reactions and filled with love and compassion.
It is essentially an attentive and constant observation of reality as it manifests moment to moment. Unlike Samatha, where the focus is on a specific object of meditation to develop concentration, Vipassana focuses on the observation of the entire field of experience, including thoughts, sensations, emotions and all that arises in consciousness. This observation is done without judgment, without reaction and without attachment, simply noting the ephemeral and changing nature of all phenomena.
One of the distinctive characteristics of Vipassana is its emphasis on direct experience. It is not a practice based on dogmas, beliefs or theories. Rather, practitioners are encouraged to see for themselves, to directly experience the reality of their experience without filters. This empirical approach reflects the Buddhist teaching that truth should not be accepted blindly, but should be experienced and known directly by each individual.
Vipassana also emphasizes impermanence as a fundamental characteristic of reality. Everything that arises also passes away. By attentively observing sensations, thoughts and emotions, the practitioner begins to see this impermanence in action. Sensations arise and disappear, thoughts come and go, and emotions flow and fade. This direct understanding of impermanence leads to a profound realization of the insubstantial and transitory nature of existence.
The practice also sheds light on the concept of“no-self” or“anatta“. When we look deeply into the nature of the mind and body, it reveals that there is no fixed, permanent“self.” Instead, there is a constant flow of interconnected experiences and phenomena. This understanding challenges the conventional notion of identity and ego, leading to a profound liberation from limiting attachments and identifications.
But Vipassana goes beyond mere observation. As we deepen our practice, we begin to develop equanimity. This equanimity, which is a mental equilibrium in the face of the vicissitudes of life, results from a direct understanding of the impermanent and non-substantial nature of reality. When one sees that everything is transitory and that there is no fixed “I” to cling to, the mind stops reacting and becomes more balanced and serene, regardless of external circumstances.
Vipassana meditation is the main vehicle for attaining liberation from suffering or inner peace. By purifying the mind of impurities and uprooting the root causes of suffering, one approaches the state of“Nibbana” or“Nirvana“, which is the culmination of the Buddhist path and represents complete liberation from suffering.
Metta Bhavana (Meditation of Unconditional Love)
Metta Bhavana, which comes from ancient Buddhist teachings, is a meditative practice that seeks to cultivate benevolent or friendly love for all beings. The word “Metta” is commonly translated as unconditional love or benevolence, while “Bhavana” means development or cultivation.
The essence of Metta Bhavana is the expansion of the heart. Unlike some forms of love that may be exclusive or conditional, Metta is a love that asks for nothing in return and is not limited to a select group of individuals. Rather than relying on personal relationships or reciprocity, this love is freely offered, whether to a loved one, a stranger, an enemy or even oneself.
The practice begins with the practitioner himself or herself, as it is recognized that in order to genuinely love others, one must first cultivate love and understanding for oneself. Thus, in Metta meditation, one begins by extending wishes of well-being, peace and happiness to oneself. Then, this love is gradually extended to people close to you, acquaintances, strangers, and even those with whom you may be in conflict.
It is not a mere repetition of phrases or an intellectual exercise. It is a transformation of the heart. By consciously repeating wishes for well-being and visualizing different beings receiving love and happiness, a profound change occurs in the practitioner. Over time, barriers and prejudices begin to dissolve, giving rise to a genuine feeling of connection and oneness with all beings.
Tibetan Buddhist Meditation
Within Tibetan Buddhism we can find a large number of exclusive meditation techniques, which are distinguished by their esoteric character and the need to be learned directly from a master, given their enormous complexity. In this section we will deal only with the simplest Tibetan techniques that are accessible to everyone. If you want to know in depth the more esoteric practices, take a look at our article on Tibetan Buddhist meditation, in which we detail a large number of types of meditation unique to Tibetan Buddhism.
Mantra meditation occupies a special place as an essential part of Vajrayana Buddhism and other Tibetan traditions. This form of meditation uses mantras, which are sacred syllables, words or phrases, to facilitate spiritual transformation and connection with deeper dimensions of consciousness.
The term“mantra” is derived from Sanskrit, where“man” means mind and“tra” means liberation or protection. Thus, a mantra can be seen as a tool or vehicle to liberate or protect the mind. They are not merely arbitrary combinations of sounds, but sacred vibrations that contain certain energies or spiritual qualities.
It is essential to understand the inherent power of these sounds. They are not valuable only for their conceptual meaning, but rather for the vibration and energy they carry. By reciting a mantra, the practitioner is not only repeating a set of words, but is attuning to a specific energetic frequency that can facilitate higher states of consciousness and inner transformation.
One of the best known mantras in the Tibetan tradition is “Om Mani Padme Hum,” associated with Avalokiteshvara, the bodhisattva of compassion. Although interpretations of this mantra vary, it is often understood as an invocation of the compassion and wisdom inherent in the heart of all beings. Conscious repetition of this mantra helps the practitioner cultivate these qualities and connect with the universal compassionate nature, as well as hiding within itself a vast number of lessons about Buddhist teachings.
The practice is not simply limited to verbal repetition. It is often combined with specific visualizations. For example, while reciting a particular mantra, the practitioner might visualize a Tibetan deity or a mandala representing certain energies or qualities. This combination of sound and visualization adds additional complexity and depth.
Unlike some forms of meditation that may be more neutral or detached, Tibetan meditation is often accompanied with a deep sense of devotion and reverence for the teachings, the deities visualized and, above all, for the unlimited potential for awakening that resides within each being.
Given the importance and power attributed to mantras in the Tibetan tradition, it is not uncommon for practitioners to receive specific mantras from a teacher or lama during certain initiations or empowerments. These mantras are passed on as sacred tools that, when used with proper intention, respect and understanding, can accelerate the practitioner’s spiritual journey.
Tonglen means “give and take” or “send and receive,” and reflects the core of this technique: taking on the suffering of others and returning love, compassion and healing. It is a practice that seems challenging at first glance, but offers a powerful way to cultivate compassion and dissolve the barriers that separate us from other beings.
The basic structure of Tonglen is simple in its form, yet profound in its impact. On each inhalation, one imagines that one is taking in the pain, suffering or negativities of other beings, absorbing it into oneself. With each exhalation, one sends love, compassion, joy and relief to those same beings. Through this process of giving and receiving, the practitioner becomes a vehicle of transformation, turning darkness into light, suffering into joy.
It is not just a visualization, it is an exercise in deep connection with the human condition, a recognition that suffering and joy are shared experiences. By willingly taking on the suffering of others, one breaks through the barriers of ego and isolation, recognizing the fundamental interconnectedness of all beings.
Tonglen meditation can be practiced in a variety of ways. We can direct it toward an individual who is suffering, groups of people, or even the global suffering of humanity. Moreover, it need not be an isolated practice; its transformative power is greatest when we incorporate it into our daily lives. The beauty of Tonglen lies in the alchemical power of the human heart. It demonstrates that, through compassion and conscious connection, we can transform pain and darkness into light and love. Instead of turning away from the suffering of the world, we approach it with courage, recognizing that in our ability to feel and connect lies the power for change and healing.
Zen Buddhist Meditation
Zen Buddhism is a school of Mahayana Buddhism that emphasizes the direct, intuitive experience of enlightenment. Originating in China as Chan and later taken to Japan, where it developed and became known as Zen, this tradition focuses on inner discipline and deep understanding rather than textual study. Zen values simplicity, spontaneity and the realization of the “Dharma” (teaching) in daily activities.
Let us describe the meditative practices characteristic of this Buddhist tradition:
Zazen (Seated Meditation)
Zazen, whose name comes from the Japanese characters “za” (sitting) and “zen” (meditation), is the central practice of Zen Buddhism. It is the simple but deeply meaningful act of sitting in meditation. Although at first glance it may appear to be just a physical posture, Zazen is the gateway to the enormous depth of the Zen experience and the very essence of awakening.
From its origins in China and its later development in Japan, Zen has emphasized direct experience rather than intellectual knowledge or adherence to a particular doctrine. Zazen is the heart of this direct experience. Unlike some other meditative practices that may involve mantras, visualizations or complex techniques, Zazen is remarkable for its simplicity, but it is in that simplicity that its depth lies.
Zazen meditation begins with posture. Traditionally, the practitioner sits on a cushion called a zafu, with legs crossed in the lotus or semi-lotus position, back erect and hands forming an oval circle, thumbs touching lightly. The eyes remain half-open, and the gaze is directed towards the ground, a few meters ahead. Once this posture is adopted, the practitioner concentrates on his or her breathing, following each inhalation and exhalation with full attention.
On the surface, this may appear similar to other meditative practices that focus on mindfulness of the breath. However, what distinguishes Zazen is the attitude that underlies this practice. It is not about achieving a particular state or pushing away distractions. Rather, one simply sits and witnesses everything that arises: thoughts, sensations, sounds and emotions. It is not about rejecting or becoming attached to these experiences, but simply observing them without judgment.
This attitude of non-resistance and non-interference allows the mind to settle naturally into its original, unconditioned state. Instead of being caught up in the constant flow of thoughts and emotions, we begin to experience a sense of space and clarity. This does not mean that thoughts disappear, but that they no longer dominate our experience. In this open and clear space, it is possible to get a glimpse of the true nature of mind and reality.
Zazen is also a practice of letting go. By sitting without a particular goal and without trying to “achieve” something, we surrender to the present moment in its entirety. This surrender, although it may seem passive, is actually a profound form of activity. It is the active and conscious act of being completely one with experience, without division or separation.
Over the centuries, many Zen masters have praised the benefits and depth of Zazen. But they also warn against attachment to meditative experiences. The goal of Zazen is not to attain ecstatic states or mystical visions, but simply to sit and be. In this being, one can discover the true nature of the self and the universe.
Kinhin (Walking Meditation)
Meditation is not limited to the sitting posture; it can also be performed in movement. Kinhin meditation is a perfect example of this. Kinhin begins after a period of Zazen. Rising from the cushion or meditation bench, the practitioner places the hands in a specific position: the left hand closed, while the right hand covers the left, with the thumbs lightly touching, forming an oval. This mudra (position of the hands) is held against the body, with the arms slightly away from the chest.
The process of walking is deliberate and conscious. One begins by breathing deeply, feeling the connection to the ground. Then, with each inhalation and exhalation, one step is taken. Some traditions teach faster walking, but many Zen schools emphasize extremely slow walking to cultivate mindfulness.
As one walks, attention is directed to the sensation of each step, feeling the lift of the foot, the movement through the air and the contact with the ground. Attention is also given to the overall posture, keeping the back straight and the head upright, with the gaze directed toward the ground a few feet ahead.
The purpose of Kinhin is to cultivate mindfulness in the act of walking. In our daily lives, we often walk from place to place with our minds anywhere but on the act of walking. The practice also offers a mindful transition between extended periods of sitting meditation. It helps to maintain a state of mindfulness and avoid the drowsiness that can sometimes arise after meditating in a static position.
In addition, it is a practice that can easily be taken outside the temple or meditation center. It is a valuable tool for those moments in daily life when we need a respite or a return to the present moment. Whether we are walking down a hallway, on our way to work, or just taking a stroll, we can transform that act into a moving meditation.
Benefits of Meditation
This is not the typical section in which we praise the many benefits of meditation. We are going to be critical, not of meditation, which is undoubtedly a truly transformative tool, a path to a more authentic and fulfilling life, but of the way it is usually presented.
When we decide to engage in the practice of meditation, most people carry with us positive expectations: to seek calm, reduce stress, or find mental clarity. But meditating involves observing our thoughts and emotions, and this inevitably means meeting with ourselves. And not always what we discover is comforting.
- Suppressed memories: Painful or traumatic memories that we had forgotten or relegated to a dark corner of our mind may surface. Meditation can act as a catalyst to bring these memories to light.
- Repressed emotions: Anger, sadness, envy, guilt and other emotions that we would like to avoid can emerge strongly during meditation. These emotions, although uncomfortable, are an integral part of our human experience and need to be faced and processed.
- Recognition of harmful patterns: Through introspection, we can identify self-destructive behaviors or toxic relationships in which we are involved. This awareness can be painful, but it is the first step toward change.
Beyond the personal, meditating can also make us more aware of painful realities in the world. When we cultivate empathy and compassion, we become more sensitive to the injustices, suffering and pain prevalent in society. This can generate feelings of sadness, helplessness or anger.
Although facing these painful aspects may seem daunting, it is very important to understand that the process is fundamental to healing and personal growth:
- Process to release: By facing painful memories and emotions, we begin the process of healing our wounds from the past. By acknowledging and accepting these experiences, we can process and eventually release them, in turn freeing ourselves from the weight they carried and the influence they were exerting on our life.
- Empowerment: Identifying harmful patterns in our lives gives us the opportunity to break them. Although the initial recognition is painful, it empowers us to make healthier and more constructive choices in the future.
- Global compassion: By being aware of suffering in the world, we can cultivate a deeper compassion not only for ourselves, but also for others. This feeling can propel us to take positive action in our relationships and contribute to the collective well-being.
Detachment from Results
One aspect that is emphasized again and again in meditation practice is detachment from results. But shouldn’t we be aiming for tangible benefits from our practice? The word detachment is one of the most misunderstood words, but it does not refer to indifference or having no goals. Rather, detachment is freedom from the need for the meditative experience to fulfill certain expectations or produce specific results. It is the acceptance of the present moment as it is, without judging it or wishing it to be different.
When we become attached to specific outcomes in meditation, such as achieving a certain state of mind, having some kind of revelation, or feeling particular sensations, we expose ourselves to several risks:
- Frustration: If we don’t get what we expect, we may feel frustrated, disillusioned or demotivated, which may lead us to abandon the practice.
- Constant self-evaluation: Being in constant search of results can generate an attitude of self-evaluation, where we constantly judge ourselves for not“being good at meditating“. This erroneous judgment is counterproductive and takes us away from the true essence of meditation.
- Losing the purpose: If we are focused solely on obtaining specific benefits, we can lose sight of the deeper purpose of meditation, which is to cultivate a deeper and more conscious relationship with ourselves and others.
We live in a results-oriented society where we are taught to seek constant rewards and validation, so cultivating detachment is not easy. But meditation invites us to challenge ourselves, to let go of these structures and immerse ourselves in the experience without expecting anything in return.