Reflections on meditation

Meditation is a way of being and not simply a technique. There are techniques linked to meditation but it’s important to understand that these techniques are simply tools to bring us in touch with the present moment. Without this understanding, we might become lost in techniques, using them to get somewhere else or to experience a ‘special state’.

The goal of meditation isn’t relaxation. Sometimes we can experience deep relaxation during meditation but mindfulness meditation is opening up to all experience without favouring one experience over the other. This means that, for instance, pain, boredom, impatience, frustration, worry or body tension are all worthwhile focus areas of attention if they are present in our experience. Each offers the possibility of learning and are not a sign that you aren’t meditating ‘correctly’. Meditation is clear seeing and the willingness to act appropriately within the circumstances that we are facing.

Below are common misconceptions about meditation:

  1. The idea that meditation is about clearing the mind. Meditation practice can be full of thought and worry. Content of experience is not important but rather what is important is being aware of our experience, whatever it is.
  2. The idea that the aim of meditation is to control your thoughts or to have specific thoughts. This misconception can get in the way of being in the present moment.

Mindfulness meditation is an inward gesture that turns the heart and mind towards our full experience, accepting and being aware of what is happening as it is already happening. This is challenging as what is happening in reality may not be what we want to be happening. Our expectations can colour our experience, especially of meditation where thoughts about ‘progress’ may arise. Meditation is not about trying to get anywhere else. It’s about being with things as they are in this moment.

Because we are often resisting what is, meditation can be challenging. There is a paradox. You can only affect change to yourself and to the world if you ‘get out of your own way’ and trustingly allow things to be as they are without pursuing anything. As Einstein said, “The problems that exist in the world today cannot be solved by the level of thinking that created them.” We therefore need to develop and refine our mind and its capacities to see and know more clearly and transcend habits of unawareness, ‘we need to return to our original, untouched, unconditioned mind.’ In meditation, we ‘get out of our own way’. We rest with things as they are underneath our thinking. We trust what is deepest and best in ourselves. You are far more than your thoughts and this becomes evident in meditation. Dwelling in awareness allows us to access this deeper knowing. All mind states can teach us more about ourselves if we take the time to stop and observe. “In letting go of wanting something special to occur, maybe we can realise that something very special is already occurring, and is always occurring, namely life emerging in each moment as awareness itself.” – Jon Kabat-Zinn


  1. Coming to Our Senses: Healing Ourselves and the World Through Mindfulness. Jon Kabat-Zinn. New York : Hyperion, [2005]. First Edition.
  2. Kabat-Zinn, Jon. 2013. Full Catastrophe Living. New York, NY: Bantam Dell Publishing Group.