If you have just started to meditate and are wondering what’s the point of all this, then this article is for you. Understanding the main purpose behind meditation can make it a lot easier for you to meditate and you will progress a lot faster.
So what is the purpose of meditation? The main purpose of meditation is to strengthen your conscious mind so you can use your conscious mind to understand yourself, gain better control over your mind and body and get access to higher intelligence.
As the ancient philosopher Aristotle said, Knowing yourself is the beginning of all Wisdom. And the gateway to knowing yourself is to become more conscious. To become more conscious, you need to develop your conscious mind which is what meditation will help you do.
Not only will you become more wise through meditation, you will also gain better control over your mind, body and emotions.
For instance, you will start becoming free from the unconscious grasp of your conditioned mind. The beliefs in your mind will no longer be able to control you as strongly as before. Instead, you will be aware of them and hence more in a position to focus on beliefs that benefit you and let go of beliefs that limit you. Similarly, you will also gain better awareness of your emotions and hence your emotions will no longer wield the kind of control on you as they did before. Because of all this, you will no longer be a slave to your mind, instead, you will start to gain mastery over your mind so you can use your mind to do things that you want to instead of the mind using you.
This is why meditation is so powerful. Yes, it can help you relax and clear your mind, but that is just the tip of the iceberg. The real power of meditation comes as you begin to grow in consciousness.
Let’s understand the purpose of meditation in further detail.
What is the purpose of meditation?
The following are 5 points that sum up the core purpose of meditation. Let’s start with the primary purpose.
1. Become conscious of your attention (Primary purpose)
Your attention is the most powerful asset that you own because wherever your attention goes, energy flows. Whatever you focus your attention on, you are giving it your energy.
The primary purpose of mediation is to help you become conscious of your attention. This is similar to developing your conscious mind because the more conscious of your attention you become, the more you grow in consciousness.
You can read the following articles to understand the science behind this:
When you meditate, there are 3 things that happen as follows:
- You focus your attention on a particular object or sensation. For instance, your breathing.
- You stay aware of your attention so it stays focused and does not get distracted.
- When it does get distracted, you become aware of it and gently bring it back to your object of focus.
All these three practices help you become more and more conscious of your attention.
2. To become aware of your subconscious mind
Once you become conscious of your attention, you will naturally become more aware of a lot of things that go on in your mind.
For instance, you will develop the ability to look at your thoughts and beliefs from a third person’s perspective. In other words, instead of being lost in your thoughts/beliefs, you become a witness to your thoughts/beliefs. You view them as a third person.
This helps you break free from your conditioned mind. You will be able to look at your beliefs objectively and let go of beliefs that are limiting and focus on beliefs that serve you better.
In addition to becoming more conscious of your inner world, you also start to become conscious of the outer world. Your perspective broadens and you develop the ability to look at things from different perspectives. When you are mindful of what’s within, you also become mindful of what’s without or the outside world.
3. To become aware of your body and emotional energy
In the default state of existence, your attention is generally lost in your mind/thoughts. Meditation helps you create a separation between your attention and your thoughts. This separation gives you the ability to shift your attention from your mind to within your body. This is bound to happen naturally.
When you bring your attention within your body, you automatically become better acquainted with emotions and emotional energy. This is because, what thoughts are to your mind, emotions are to your body.
Getting in touch with your emotions helps you release stuck emotions. You also become more responsive and less reactive as your emotions no longer control you as before. This is why meditation can be great for anyone who suffers from anxiety.
4. To gain better control over your mind
It’s only when you can view your mind as a third person can you begin to understand your mind. As mentioned before, meditation helps you create a space between your attention and your thoughts/beliefs. This separation or space allows you to witness your mind from the perspective of a third person.
You can look at your mind in a objective manner as opposed to before when you were lost in your mind. So instead of your mind controlling you, you begin to gain control over your mind.
5. To clear your mind and relax
Your unconscious attention acts as a fuel for your thoughts. While meditating, you move your attention away from your thoughts and focus it on an object or sensation. This deprives the thoughts from getting attention and they will begin to settle down. Soon your mind will become clear from thoughts and you will reach a state of calm and relaxation.
This can be viewed as a state of detachment and letting go where you let go of your ego and connect with the higher source. This state of relaxation also helps reset your entire system and fills you with uplifting energy at the end of your meditative session.
How should you meditate to achieve these objectives?
When you talk of meditation, you are primarily talking about the following two types:
- Focused meditation: You focus your attention on an object, mantra or sensation for a prolonged period of time.
- Open focus meditation: You simply stay aware of your attention.
What’s common between the above two types is the use of ‘conscious attention’. In other words, you remain conscious or alert of where your attention is focused at any given moment. This practice of staying conscious of your attention is what eventually develops your conscious mind. In other words, it helps you grow in consciousness.
For the sake of simplicity, it’s best to start with focused meditation. Open focus meditation or mindfulness naturally comes to you as you practice focused meditation.
Here’s how to do it:
To practice focused meditation, first choose your object of focus. For beginners, it’s best to focus on your breath.
Sit comfortably, close your eyes and focus your attention on the sensations produced while breathing. As you breathe in, focus on the cool air caressing the tip of your nostrils and as you breathe out, focus on the warm air exiting your nostrils. Simply keep your attention focused on these two sensations.
You need not try to suppress your thoughts, let the thoughts go on. If your attention gets distracted by a thought, gently bring your attention back to the sensations. A small part of your attention will always be aware of the thoughts running in the background. That is fine. Think of this as your peripheral vision. When you look at something, you also see a little bit of the background.
During the initial stages you will find that your attention is pulled in by your thoughts every few seconds or so. And it takes you a while to realize that you were no longer focused on your breath. That’s perfectly fine. Do not beat yourself over it. As soon as you become aware of this, acknowledge the fact that your attention got distracted and gently your attention back to your breath.
It is this action of bringing your attention back to your breath done many times over that helps you become conscious of your attention which as we saw is the primary purpose of a meditation practice.
Over a period of time, as you continue to meditate, you will gain more and more control over your attention or in other words, you will become more and more conscious of your attention.
Think of your attention as an untrained horse. It will be difficult to control it and make it walk on a straight path at first. It will go off course every now and then. But with practice, you will train it to walk the path.
For a more in-depth explanation, you can read this article.
When I started meditating I was having a really tough time. I had no clue what I was doing. But when I clearly understood the real purpose behind meditation and the concept of working with your attention, it came as a breakthrough that allowed me to truly understand what meditation was and how to go about doing it the right way.
Hopefully understanding this basic concept helped you too in your journey toward mastering your mind through meditation.