Some people meditate for a purpose—for stress reduction, anger management, physical and mental health, enhanced athletic or artistic performance, or whatever the reason might be. And that’s totally fine. Meditation can be very beneficial for all of those things. But what I would call true meditation is not a doing. It has no purpose, no goal, no use. It is simply being here now. Not being here now in order to achieve something or get somewhere or get rid of something or change something, but being here now with no agenda. Meditation is simply awareness. It allows everything to be just as it is, without chasing anything or pushing anything away. Meditation is a kind of open looking and listening rooted in a spirit of curiosity, interest and love. It can be done in an intentional way, which is how we usually think of meditation, as deliberately sitting down and meditating. In that case it is a kind of simplified space where we stop all the usual doing, the “sound and fury” of daily life—and we sit relatively still, without talking, turn off the TV and the stereo and the phone and all the various devices, put down the books and magazines, and simply BE, Here / Now, awake and present. We allow what we often overlook or avoid to come into the light of awareness. We see patterns of habitual, conditioned thought that we hadn’t seen before, and we discover the open, spacious aliveness of bare being.
Taking time out of our busy lives to do nothing is a wonderful refreshment, and doing this regularly or going on silent retreats is a wonderful way to deepen this refreshment and discovery. But true meditation can also happen spontaneously at any moment, and as we come to rest more and more in this simple awake presence, we find that the boundary between “meditation” and “the rest of my life” melts away. We find that awareness is what Here / Now IS. And we begin to recognize the stillness and the spaciousness and the freedom of meditation even in the midst of our busy lives, if only for moments at a time. And when we do get caught up in our stories and dramas, when we feel angry or defensive or anxious or restless, maybe we find that there is a new possibility—the possibility of not acting out the story or the emotion, and not resisting it or trying to squelch it either. Instead, we may find it is possible to allow it all to be just as it is without judgment or strategy, without grasping or resisting, but simply openly looking and listening, feeling whatever arises in the body as pure sensation, seeing the thoughts and stories without believing in them, beholding the whole show, allowing everything to reveal and undo itself in its own time. So if there’s tension, then we can simply be tense. We’re not fighting the tension and creating more tension by trying to get rid of it. Instead, meditation is all about allowing what is to be as it is. Awareness is the key, and awareness is always NOW.