Why Meditate?

Meditation, sitting down, with your eyes either closed or open. Although Sogyal Rinpoche says, in his book: The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying, that you should always meditate with your eyes wide open. 

Marcus Aurelius did differently, he sat down to write, like many other Stoics, on a journal.

The Buddhists, The Stoics

There’s a difference between the Stoic meditation and the Buddhist meditation though. The difference being awareness with the Buddhists and deliberate practice with the Stoics.

I believe that the Stoic meditation is more structured. It makes you think about your actions and how those actions fit in the frame of your life, in the context of virtue. It seeks self-improvement in some way, as in becoming ever freer, virtuous, and so on. It is a constant practice of character, much more practical if you ask me. 

Now, Buddhist meditation is all about awareness and realization. When you sit down to meditate without a journal, just sitting down with no other goal than to become acutely aware of everything, you begin to realize things that you hadn’t seen before, or that you were blinded to. 

Thinking, to give an example, always feels logical, but when you sit down to observe your thoughts, you realize that, more than logical, it’s comical. One moment you’re thinking about humanity’s emancipation from the darkness of racism and ignorance and the next you’re thinking about whether you should have the peanut butter sandwich or the avocado taco for breakfast.

But this is precisely what you’re looking for, to become aware of the feelings, the attachments, and the constant thought patterns that you didn’t notice before because of constant distraction, be it with work, Netflix, or fucking YouTube (sorry, I have a love-hate relationship with YouTube).

Yesterday I had my very first singing class. My mother told me that I shouldn’t be paying for something that I could learn on YouTube, but I digress, you learn a lot more when you do it in person, and even more when you pay haha. Everyone thinks singing is easy, or that it’s something that some people have and others don’t, but notion is incorrect, you just don’t know how to use your voice. 

My teacher told me that if you have a voice, you can sing. I learned quite a few things yesterday. The first one is to relax your body (especially your belly) before singing because a stressed stomach is going to affect the sound of your voice. You need to open your mouth wide to give your voice more resonance and space. If you want to raise your tone, you need to sing from the head and feel the vibrations in your nose. I won’t tell you anything more as I’d have to charge you as well, but you get the idea. A hidden world of music open before me. 

This morning when I sat down to meditate, with a cushion and my wide-open eyes staring blankly at my wall, I had a similar experience to my singing class. 

After I got used to just ‘sitting there’ I began to become aware of the feelings I was kind of ‘holding/grasping’ (like the stress I held in my stomach before singing) that I just had to let go to feel free and at ease and so I did. The thing is, I wasn’t even aware of them before sitting down to take inventory on what was going on inside of me.

Just like my singing class, when I was finished, I knew things about a topic (in this case myself) that I didn’t know before. 

And now, here I am writing about the experience. 

I believe writing about the experience is beneficial because it helps me to put together the things that I learned so that I can act better in the future. While at the same time judging what works and what does not. 

Further, I’m measuring the things that I discover with the things that I know from Stoicism. As in: was I virtuous in my actions? How can the things that I discovered further my practice of virtue? And so on.

Meditation will bring you understanding, and from understanding comes peace. If you make it a part of your life, bought active meditation as in writing and passive as in becoming aware of, you’ll be adding an enhancement to the experience of life that will make it infinitely more rich and rewarding.

Thanks for reading, 

Ricardo

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