Meditation is also thinking deeply
In the West, since the last decades of the twentieth century, it has not stopped growing interest in meditation, of which there are different types and techniques, see for example types of meditation. From my own experience, I think virtually all types of meditation that West are practicing tend to get mental silence, cultivating mindfulness detached thinking. This is a highly recommended way, it gives our focus a depth, beyond external events and beyond semi-automatic thoughts we all have.
- to think calm thoughts for a long period in order to relax or as a religious, activity
- to think deeply,
- to spend short, regular periods in deep (especially religious) thought,
and for the verb reflect the dictionary introduces a different hue:
Reflect: to think in a serious and careful way.
In these definitions the keywords are: deeply, carefully think, calm thoughts. Obviously, this way of thinking is not usual in the West in our times, perhaps it was in the past, but not now. Before the industrial revolution, life was much slower, and also the vast majority of the population did not think, in the sense of deeply reflect on something, mostly because they had no mind trained for such activity, because only a small fraction of the population could study. And of those who had the good fortune to study, also only a small fraction of them spent some time in profound and reflective thinking. In our time everybody studies, but the flood of information, overwhelming, around us, together with a fast-paced lifestyle does not create the necessary conditions for deep thinking.
It is for this reason that we need meditation oriented to mental silence, for gain peace of mind. But at the same time, meditation without any reflective thought, well, lot of people with a specific action-oriented personality, see such meditation like a trip to nowhere, as a nullifying himself, and have a point, because:
Meditation is not an escape, it is a serene encounter with reality. Thich Nhat Hanh
Indeed, we should not see the traditional meditation is being done as a simple evasion of problems and hectic lifestyle that we do for a few minutes a day, but as a basic training of our mind, which must be calm before start to think deeply. And, about what we will think deeply? We can deeply reflect on two broad categories of questions: about ourselves and about the nature of reality. By the way, if we start to reflect on the reality, in fact we are following one of the schools of classical Yoga, Jnana Yoga, which aims to develop the highest and true knowledge.
Meditate on our own nature reflexively
In this reflective meditation we try to better understand ourselves, in depth: what we really are? What is our deep identity? What are our deepest motivations? What causes our feelings and emotions? etc. Following the old aphorism know yourself, old but not at all old-fashioned, on the contrary, remains a great recommendation.
As we work every day in this reflective meditation about ourselves and how we relate to our environment, we are approaching the wisdom, understood as a deep understanding of reality. The two types of meditation, silence and mental calm and reflective, are complementary, can be worked simultaneously, and reinforce each other.
One caveat: we are assuming that we have practiced meditation oriented to relaxation and mental silence for some time, and have achieved some level of mental and emotional reassurance needed before starting to think reflectively; if we do not meet this precondition, most likely to try to reflect what we end up doing is intellectualize reflection, or thinking as usual. What we seek is to reflect from the mental silence, mental “movement” is minimal, we make a question with the mind, then keep mental silence, contemplating the question, and waiting for the answer; if we are not able to keep quiet then we will not hear the answer, which comes from the depths of the mind, where silence reigns. Thus it is not a style of meditation for beginners.
Script for reflective meditation oriented to self-knowledge
We will now give a dash of reflective meditation that can serve as a simple example of what we are talking about or as a real script work, the reader can apply, adapt to their interests, etc.
1. Before you start, chose the topic on which meditate; in this example, the theme will be the emotion of anger in all its variants: outrage at injustice, hatred against something or someone, etc. It is a negative emotion (does not provide welfare and is destructive) and very powerful. What we want know? we want to know, to see, their origin in us, its true cause, and if it really is necessary, as most people think.
When lust (desire in general) is not satisfied, it becomes anger – Bhagavad Gita
He who lives without anger is the happiest – The Buddha
7. Leaving the meditative state as usual: still with closed eyes breathe deeply, mobilized hands, legs, head, and finally open our eyes and return to take sensory contact with the environment, take your time.