When we think of the mind, we might associate it with conscious awareness and understanding. However, we are truly only aware of a small fraction of the thinking that actually occurs in our minds. Even this tiny part of our conscious thoughts is involved in a daily battle in which we are constantly fighting for control over. In our lives, the decisions we make, the habits we partake in, the ways we feel, what we perceive of others and ourselves, our awareness of opportunities, our hopes, our dreams, our desires and what we understand about life are all at war with each other, and the dominating thoughts in our minds are often not the most useful, nor the most pleasant.
The mind is like a computer that runs different processes on a daily basis. The vast majority of these processes are programmed by thoughts generated from the unconscious and subconscious parts of our minds, which ultimately dictate how we live and the choices we make. The subconscious and unconscious minds feed into our conscious minds as a constant flow of thoughts, ideas and emotions that dictate our perception, our understanding and our awareness. These thoughts can range from mundane to creative and from negative to positive. Regardless of how they may seem at any given moment, they will determine what we feel and ultimately how our days and lives unfold.
Often, even on our best days, our peace and happiness are interrupted by intrusive thoughts, illustrating the disconcerting fact that many functions of the mind are outside of our conscious control. Even the deliberate decisions we make stem from a complex root system of belief and past experiences that have shaped the way our unconscious and subconscious minds shape the world and our understanding. We are only aware of the thoughts that arise in our conscious awareness, we are not aware of the complex mental processes behind the creation or culmination of our thoughts. Even the thoughts that suddenly pop into our awareness offhandedly and randomly have been brewing deep in the recesses of our unconsciousness, having been shaped and formed and nurtured by the unconscious processes that we have no direct or conscious influence over.
We are slaves of our own thoughts.
To some degree or another, we are all aware of the dominating power our minds hold over our lives, and how thought patterns, habits, beliefs and intrusive thoughts shape our worlds, guide our decisions, instigate our battles, control our relationships and trap us within our own identities. This dependency upon reshaping the unconscious faculties of our minds is the fuel and the powerhouse that drives the personal development industry and the meditation market, solely based upon the hope that there is some method or way in which we can control our thoughts and reshape our minds into a quieter and more nurturing, positive and supportive environment that can transform our lives and properly combat the rising mental health pandemic we currently face.
Meditation is not a new concept, but it has been drastically increasing in popularity, especially in countries like America. In fact, over the last 20 years, meditation and mediation-based programs focused on trying to cultivate mindfulness, calmness, quality sleep, stress relief and mental peace have become increasingly important to the western world.
Currently, the meditation market is now valued to be at over 1 billion dollars, and expected to cross 2 billion dollars by the end of 2022. There are thousands of meditation apps, social influencers, personal development leaders, life coaches and new age teachers that have all woven meditative techniques into their programs and teachings in one way or another.
While the practice of meditation is not new, many of us have lost sight of what meditation actually is.
The main objective of meditation is to free us from the slavery of our own thoughts. Our thoughts control and decide our state of mind like sadness, anger, happiness and frustration, along with our successes, failures, physical health, mental health, emotional health, finances and perception every day throughout our lives.
Personal development coaches and teachers of meditation tell us to be optimistic, have positive thoughts, be inspired, and to be motivated and ambitious all the time. We are told to visualize the things we want in our lives, to focus on happiness and greatness without any foundation that actually gives us the authority or governing power to control our minds and provide reign over our mental chattering and restlessness.
So then, the question is – are we the real thinkers? Do our thoughts control us or do we control our thoughts? Can we control our thoughts in the presence of mental chatter, disorder and restlessness?
The truth is, thoughts control us. Here, meditation plays a major role. If you are meditating or practicing meditation – that’s good.
But is it really working?
The validity of our meditation practice can be measured through the scale of calmness. If we enjoy consistent calmness throughout our lives, even when not actively engaged in the act of meditation, then it is a real outcome of meditation. However, if we continue to suffer from restlessness, then our meditation practice is just that – a ritualistic or dogmatic practice layered with tricks, tactics and practices that keep us in delusion or distracted from the suffering or problems in our lives. In reality, it is not meditation at all.
The real outcome of meditation is realized when the mind is in a state of silence. It is the absence of restlessness, providing you with stillness and command over your thoughts or, ultimately, complete mental liberation. Successful meditation is when we enjoy streamlined focus and mental efficiency with the ability to control our own thoughts throughout our daily lives, even when not in meditation. We have the ability to think and focus on any subject, and when we don’t want to think, we have the ability to suspend thought itself and enter into a state of thoughtlessness. This is the ultimate objective of meditation: silence and absolute thoughtlessness.
There are many teachers and trainers of various meditative practices that instruct uninterrupted thinking or focus on an object, idol, deity, angel, candle, light, a thought, an idea, the imagination or our own breath. However, this state of uninterrupted thought is impossible to attain for most meditation practitioners, even the most seasoned ones. This state of uninterrupted thought means one must already have achieved a state of deep calmness, whereas many practitioners are actively trying to control or focus their thoughts as a means of achieving this deep state of calmness.
As meditation is a state of thoughtlessness or deep silence, when we achieve this state of being we are free to do what we want or need to do, and think what we want or need to think. Only then do we reap the incredible benefits touted by so many meditation practitioners and teachers; calmness, ability to focus, no anxiety, no depression, no stress, no fear of the future, inspiration, motivation, ambition, optimism and remarkable future vision.
It is only when we are aligned with and follow our ethics and morality that we can be eligible for meditation. In doing so, the subconscious mind leads our thought patterns and our lives. This leads to higher levels of cognition and logical functioning, and a great sense of realism without delusional or draining thoughts.
When we are already in this state of mind, we are capable of accomplishing the state of thoughtlessness through meditation. Through this continuum of calmness, we are no longer adversely viable to a variety of problems in life such as stress, anxiety, depression, poor quality sleep, tiredness, fatigue, fear of the future, mind chatter and mental restlessness.
Now, if the unconscious mind leads our lives, we suffer from mind chatter and mental restlessness as we accumulate thousands of new desires in the unconscious databanks of our brains. These unfulfilled desires infiltrate our conscious minds with intrusive thoughts and propels us into compulsive actions and poor decisions. We react to life’s situations instead of reflecting, responding and finding growth in them. The unconscious mind works on the pleasure and fantasy principle, so when we operate under the governance of the unconscious mind, we become delusional, impractical, non-visionary, emotionally unstable and constantly busy in mental chatter and restlessness. In this state, no matter the style of technique or teacher of meditation we use, we are simply fooling ourselves and others into thinking there is any productive outcome from our practice. In this state of being, meditation is not beneficial. Unfortunately, more than 95% of the world’s population falls into this category.
Real meditation has the ability to improve your alertness, awareness, self-control, quality of sleep, imagination, creativity, patience, tolerance, focus, mood, metabolism, energy levels, decision making, productivity, cognition, patience, quality of relationships, inspiration, motivation, ambition, enthusiasm and perception as well as promote satisfaction, clarity, relaxation, calmness, inner peace and emotional bliss. Meditation can also reduce hyperactivity, negative emotions, anger, brain chatter, stress, anxiety, depression, irritability, frustration, fear of the future, sadness and hopelessness.
Finally, meditation helps us accomplish health, wellness and a better quality of life.