Common Misconception About Meditation

Posted on February 27th, 2013

Book: Mindfulness in Plain English (2011) by Bhante Henepola Gunaratana

Meditation is just a relaxation technique

Vipassana seeks another goal - awareness. Concentration and relaxation are considered necessary concomitants to awareness. They are required precursors, handy tools, and beneficial byproducts. But they are not the goal. The goal is insight. Vipassana meditation is a profound religious practice aimed at nothing less that the purification and transformation of your everyday life.

Meditation means going into a trance

You will become more and more attuned to your own emotional changes. You will learn to know yourself with ever- greater clarity and precision. In learning this technique, certain states do occur which may appear trance-like to the observer. But they are really quite the opposite. In hypnotic trance, the subject is susceptible to control by another party, whereas in deep concentration the meditator remains very much under his own control.

Vipassana by definition is the cultivation of mindfulness or awareness.

Meditation is a mysterious practice which cannot be understood

Meditation is not some mindless formula which gives automatic and predictable results. You can never really predict exactly what will come up in any particular session. It is an investigation and experiment and an adventure every time.

The purpose of meditation is to become a psychic superman

No, the purpose of meditation is to develop awareness.

Meditation is for saints and holy men, not for regular people

It is true, of course, that most holy men meditate, but they don’t meditate because they are holy men. That is backward. They are holy men because they meditate. Meditation is how they got there

And they started meditating before they became holy.

There are three integral factors in Buddhist meditation —- morality, concentration and wisdom. These three factors grow together as your practice deepens.

Meditation is running away from reality

Vipassana is a practice done with the specific intention of facing reality, to fully experience life just as it is and to cope with exactly what you find. It allows you to blow aside the illusions and to free yourself from all those polite little lies you tell yourself all the time. What is there is there. You are who you are, and lying to yourself about your own weaknesses and motivations only binds you tighter to the wheel of illusion.

if you do meditation with that purpose in mind, they are less likely to occur than if you just meditate for the actual purpose of meditation, which is increased awareness.

Bliss results from relaxation, and relaxation results from release of tension. Seeking bliss from meditation introduces tension into the process, which blows the whole chain of events.

You can only have bliss if you don’t chase it.

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