The Purpose Of Meditation – 4 Perspectives You Need To Know About
It’s hard to understand what the purpose of meditation is.
What’s the point of just sitting there and meditating?
In short, meditation is an ancient technique that makes your life awesome.
And you can look at the purpose of this mind-calming practice in different ways.
Most meditation teachers only tell you half the story. When they explain the purpose of meditation, they often stick to only one explanation.
I’m here to give you the full picture!
Do you want to know the most important views on the purpose of meditation?
Then this is the article for you.
I’ll show you 4 valuable perspectives on the purpose of meditation.
These 4 perspectives will give you a complete understanding of why people meditate.
This is valuable because it makes your meditation practice much more effective. It also increases your motivation when you understand why you’re meditating.
Let’s get started.
1: The secret purpose of meditation that almost nobody knows about
I’ll start by sharing the most overlooked purpose of meditation.
It’s also the hidden key to make your meditations super effective.
But a lot of people don’t know about it.
I have no idea!
Maybe meditation teachers are trying to keep it a secret…
Or they fail to point it out in a clear way.
So let me be crystal clear about it:
“An important purpose of meditation is to create balance between the two powers of the mind. The two powers of the mind are your intent and your ability to let go.”
If you create balance between these forces, you will feel peace, stillness and all that good stuff.
Restlessness, anxiety and frustration are the result of their imbalance.
Balancing intent and the ability to let go is the hidden key to super effective meditation.
How can you actually use this?
Let me explain with an example of when you’re in meditation.
When you meditate, you try to focus on a meditation object. Let’s say you want to focus on your breath to calm yourself. Then the breath is your meditation object.
You focussing on this meditation object is using your intent. It’s the power to focus your awareness on something.
It’s important that you remain focused on your meditation object during meditation. If you lose focus, you bring your attention back to it.
But there’s more to it than that…
While you focus on your meditation object, you also let go.
Yes, at the same time.
It’s not about forcing your mind to focus on your meditation object. That’s applying too much intent.
You rest into your meditation object and let go. You let go of needing your mind to be in a certain state or focus.
You let go of trying to change thoughts, emotions or how your body feels. When you let go during meditation, you accept this moment and all that it contains.
You let go of needing your meditation experience to be a certain way. You can sit back, relax and observe what you’re experiencing at this moment.
It’s good to take a few intentional deep breaths for relaxation, but you also don’t force your breath too much.
Because you can’t force yourself into a state of peace. You have to let go and surrender while having the intention to relax your mind.
This allows you to create a peaceful balance inside your awareness.
I’ll make this even more clear by using this awesome rock scale:
The left rock is your intent and the rocks on the right are your ability to let go.
The scale will tip over if the intent rock on the left is too heavy. You have too much intent.
When the intent rock is too light, it also causes imbalance. You have too little intent.
Adding too many letting go stones on the right also makes the scale tip over. You let go too much.
Remove too much of the letting go stones and you lose balance again. You don’t let go enough.
See how the right amount of intent and letting go leads to balance on the rock scale?
It’s the same for your mind.
If you can balance these forces inside of you, it creates balance in your mind. This is an important goal of meditation practice.
Here’s another way of explaining balance during meditation:
When you meditate, you’ll notice that your mind can wander.
You can lose the focus on your meditation object and get caught up in thoughts.
The way to handle this is to kindly bring your awareness back to the meditation object. You use your intent, but you don’t force it with all your might.
Because when you try to force your mind, it stays restless. You can’t empty or calm down your mind by forcing it to be calm.
But you don’t want to let go too much either. If you let go too much, you’ll get caught up in more thoughts, mind wandering and daydreams.
Here’s the main point I want you to understand:
“Meditation is a paradox. It’s somewhere in the middle between intent and letting go that you find balance.“
When you balance these two forces, you’ll feel inner peace, stillness and presence.
You use your focus, but you don’t force your mind. While you let go, you don’t let your mind run off everywhere it wants to go.
So by practicing meditation, you learn how to create balance in your mind. You do this by balancing intent and letting go.
This is one of the main purposes of meditation.
I hope I made that really really clear! :p
This can sound difficult, but with practice you’ll get the hang of it.
2: How the spiritual purpose of meditation leads to ultimate freedom
There’s one question that lies at the heart of meditation practice.
And that question is:
“Who am I?”
Answering this question for yourself is the spiritual purpose of meditation.
This looks like a simple and straightforward question.
But it’s not.
Don’t worry, I’m going to tell you the answer! But only your own experience will make it true for you.
To understand this better, it’s important to know that meditation is all about spiritual awakening.
Other common words for this are enlightenment and self-realization.
This is what all the mystics and gurus in India talk about.
Buddhist monks dedicate their entire life to fulfilling it.
And spiritual teachers try to help others achieve it.
Why is this important?
Because it gives you ultimate freedom!
Let me explain how.
When you meditate a few times, you’ll start to notice that you can observe your thoughts. Don’t freak out. It’s completely normal.
You can notice all kinds of stories and self-talk going on in your mind. You can notice thoughts like:
- I shouldn’t have made that mistake at work
- Suzy is such a good friend
- Why am I meditating?
- Damn… I still need to do groceries
- Am I doing this right?
And these thoughts are often tied to certain emotions like:
So what is the awareness that can observe these thoughts and emotions?
That is you.
Most people identify with their thoughts and emotions. They see them as what they are.
But thoughts and emotions come and go. The presence that observes these thoughts and emotions is always there.
You are this presence.
To make this more clear, I want you to picture a clear blue sky on a summer day like this:
Then picture big white clouds that move in front of the sky. These clouds cover almost the entire sky. It’ll look something like this:
What happened to the clear blue sky?
Where is it now?
The answer is that it’s still there behind the clouds.
And we all know that clouds will always come and go. One moment they’re here, and the next moment they’re gone.
The blue sky always remains. It’s never gone and always there behind the clouds.
So clouds are much like your thoughts and emotions. One moment they’re here and the next moment they disappear.
The blue sky is a lot like the presence that you are. It’s always there and is always observing.
All your thoughts, emotions, beliefs, stories and problems are not you. You’re the presence that observes them all.
And you shouldn’t take my word for it. Meditation is the best way to discover it for yourself.
You can sum it up like this:
“The spiritual purpose of meditation is to recognize and realize what you are and what you are not. This is called spiritual awakening or enlightenment.”
If you practice meditation, you become more aware that you’re not your thoughts and emotions. You’re the presence that observes them.
Realizing this has massive benefits for your life! You’ll experience freedom like never before.
Inner conflict often arises when we identify too much with thoughts and emotions. We cling to them and they consume us.
But now you know you’re not your thoughts and emotions. It allows you to take a step back at any moment. And then you can recognize:
“Ah, it’s just a thought. Just another emotion. As the presence that I am, I can observe them and let them float by.”
Life becomes more and more like watching a movie.
When you watch a movie in the cinema, you’re not the scenes in the movie. You’re not the characters and you’re not their thoughts and emotions.
You’re only watching a movie. Always safe and always okay. The appearances on the screen can never hurt you.
The same goes for the appearances in your life. They can never hurt or destroy the presence that is observing.
The presence is and will always be there. And that presence is what you are on a more fundamental level.
Don’t worry if you don’t fully understand or believe this right now. This subject has many layers and nuances. It takes time to grasp it for most people.
Let the idea sink in and explore it during your meditation practice. That’s the spiritual purpose of meditation.
3: How meditation eliminates stress by upgrading your brain
Most people start with meditation for less stress and more inner peace.
And you know what?
Meditation has powerful healing effects. It’s been proven by science to lower stress and increase inner peace.
Eliminating stress is a valuable purpose of meditation because stress is bad.
And I mean really bad.
60% to 80% of all doctor visits have a stress-related component. That’s what the smart researchers conclude.
We live in a society where chronic stress seems to be the norm. So much to do and so little time to do it. Our fight or flight response is continuously active.
Besides the negative impact on our health, chronic stress negatively changes our brain. These adverse changes cause us to be more stressed.
When you meditate, you can reverse the negative changes in your brain. This is why meditation practice will help eliminate stress and increase inner peace.
Let me explain how this works.
Without getting too scientific, there’s one main negative effect of stress:
The amygdala in your brain becomes stronger.
And this is bad news…
This is because the amygdala is your brain’s fear center. It triggers your fight or flight response.
Here you can see where it’s located at the bottom of the brain:
Modern life has a lot of stress causing factors that we worry about. These are things like high work pressure, bills to pay and what other people think of us.
We even have the awesome ability to worry about everything that could go wrong. Even before it has happened! Often the negative scenarios in our mind don’t happen at all.
And you know what happens to the amygdala in response to all this stress?
In response to all this stress, the amygdala increases in size and becomes more active! It also strengthens and increases neural connections to other parts of your brain.
Your amygdala becomes hyperactive. This means your fight or flight response is more easily activated.
And this causes trouble…
The result of a hyperactive amygdala is that you experience more stress.
Because you now experience more stress, your amygdala gets stronger and stronger.
Then you will experience even more stress, and the amygdala gets even more powerful.
The bottom line:
You become better at creating fear and stress.
It’s a vicious cycle.
If you don’t stop it, it can make your life a living hell. You won’t be able to create inner peace because your amygdala is too active.
Many scientists see a hyperactive amygdala as the cause of anxiety disorders and phobias. Post-traumatic stress disorder is also linked to an amygdala that’s gone wild.
Yes, the vicious cycle the amygdala can create is bad.
Luckily there’s an always available antidote for breaking this nasty vicious cycle.
And the antidote is…
Meditation can reverse the negative effects on your brain that stress causes.
Scientific studies show that regular meditation shrinks the size of the amygdala. Meditation also lowers its activity level and the number of neural connections.
But it gets even better.
That’s because meditation also thickens the hippocampus. This area of the brain is responsible for learning, memory and emotional regulation. It helps shut off a stress response after a stressful event is over.
Meditation also increases the density of the prefrontal cortex. This area is responsible for concentration, problem solving and decision making. It also helps us control impulsive behavior.
What does this all mean for you?
It means you can upgrade your brain by practicing meditation. It’s like going to the mind gym to stimulate positive effects on your brain.
When you build a meditation habit, the parts of your brain that cause stress become weaker. And the parts of your brain responsible for creating inner peace become stronger.
Your brain will be better at creating happiness, making decisions and regulating emotions. It’s all because of positive changes in your brain.
Because of these changes, you’re able to be more relaxed, happy and at peace. Your brain is better at it because of practicing meditation.
This proves on a brain level that meditation is a powerful antidote against stress. It’s almost too good to be true. But yeah, science proves it lol.
It keeps your brain healthy so that you can live a life of inner peace and happiness.
Upgrading your brain is the purpose of meditation from a brain perspective.
Pretty awesome if you ask me.
4: Meditation allows you to change yourself from the core
We teach people how to master their inner world.
This is our main goal at Amstermind.
What is your inner world?
An easy explanation is that your inner world consists of your thoughts, emotions and beliefs.
In essence, it determines the way you experience reality.
Mastering your inner world has two parts:
- Clearing out bad aspects of your inner world so that they no longer hold you back.
- Strengthening positive aspects that empower you and make your life better.
If you master your inner world, it’s much easier to create a great life. And meditation is the first step in this process of mastering your inner world.
Because meditation is a lot like this wooden door:
What’s on the other side of this door?
It’s your inner world.
It’s where all your emotions, thoughts and beliefs are. If you don’t go through the door, you’ll remain unaware of what’s going on inside.
Meditation is like this door because it’s an effective method of entering your inner world.
It works like this:
When you practice meditation, you increase your self-awareness. It makes what is now unconscious much more conscious.
You’ll notice your thoughts, emotions and beliefs much easier. You’re more in contact with your inner world and you’re more self-aware.
That’s why we say:
“Meditation is the door to your inner world.”
If you have more self-awareness, you have more power to change your inner world.
I mean it’s simple.
How can you change or improve something inside of you that you’re not aware of?
A lot of people in the meditation and mindfulness community see meditation as the solution to everything. They say, just meditate and your problems will go away.
While this is true, it’s also not true.
How does it really work?
So it’s correct that meditation makes you less stressed and more peaceful. But it doesn’t stop there!
That’s only the start of your amazing crazy personal growth adventure.
Now you have the power and awareness to change the parts of yourself that are holding you back. Meditation gives you the ability to look more objectively at your inner world.
It enhances your life in a lot of positive ways. But not always in the way that most people want.
They look for the quick fix and think that if they meditate all their internal problems will go away.
The truth is that starting with meditation can bring up hidden internal problems. At first, it can seem you have more triggers that cause stress or worry.
You can have more disempowering thoughts, emotions and beliefs to deal with.
That’s just the truth.
They were always there, but now you’re more aware of them.
When this happens…
Understand that it’s a good thing!
It’s one of the best effects of practicing meditation.
Why is this good?
Because of your increased self-awareness, you now have the power to change yourself.
You’ll be better at noticing your internal and automatic responses to situations. Especially those knee jerk fear responses.
You become more aware of when you project your fears and insecurities onto situations and other people.
With practice, you develop more space between external stimulus and your response. You’ll be that amazing calm presence that can observe reality before responding.
You become better equipped to respond in constructive ways instead of destructive ways.
Because you’re not consumed by stress and worry, it becomes easier to change parts of your inner world. Internal change becomes so much easier.
Now you can start to master your inner world with all kinds of advanced techniques. A great adventure!
But it’s good to understand one crucial thing about this. Even though the advanced techniques are awesome, it’s good to not forget the basics.
Meditation will always be the door to your inner world. It’s where you start.
That’s why it’s so important to master meditation.
What do you think?
So these are the 4 valuable perspectives I wanted to share with you. They give you a complete picture of the purpose of meditation.
What do you think of the 4 perspectives? Is there one in particular that you resonate with?
Let me know in the comments below!
I would also be happy to answer any questions you have.
Thomas is the co-founder of Amstermind. He empowers people by teaching them how to master their inner world. He is a meditation coach, reality explorer, herbal tea addict and internet entrepreneur. In his content he likes to combine personal development and spirituality.
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