As the Dhammapada, one of the earliest and most poetic of the Buddhist texts, says: “Our life is the creation of our minds”, since “Experiences are preceded by mind, led by mind, and produced by mind”
Meditation is a powerful tool for changing our relationship with ourselves and the world. In meditation we use the mind to work directly on the mind, gently becoming aware of ingrained mind-habits and learning how to let them change, freeing us from grooves that have maybe kept us trapped for years.
If you’re new to meditation, you might want to check out our Newcomers page.
Our minds are how we experience the world. Everything which happens to us is filtered and made sense of by the mind. The Buddha saw that contrary to the Hindu idea of a fixed self/soul we actually have the capacity to change this – almost infinitely. One of the key ways the Buddha discovered to do this was by the practice of meditation, in conjunction with ethical practice.. We create the world we experience by the way we think and the way we act – and most of us are stuck in grooves of thought we never even consciously chose in the first place!
There is a physiological explanation for why meditation works. Put simply, ‘what fires together wires together’. In our brain are symapses which connect when we ‘go down’ certain avenues of thought. The more often we follow the same habitual thought patterns, the more often our minds trundle off down the same ‘grooves’. We almost literally dig grooves in mind by our habits of thought – and most of us aren’t even aware that we’re doing it!
In meditation, we learn a practice that has been proven over thousands of years literally to ‘change our minds’.
We need to cultivate both awareness and emotional positivity to bring about change and to free ourselves from unhelpful habits of body, speech and mind. The ‘stick’ approach simply does not work, if we’re seeking truly to transform. We need to learn how to become aware of how we truly are, to cultivate a kindness towards whatever we discover in ourselves and towards other people. This way we can revolutionise our relationship with ourselves and with the world.
We use two meditation practices to bring this about and to lay strong foundations for our spiritual practice: the Mindfulness of Breathing and Metta Bhavana meditations. There’s a page dedicated to each of these practices which explains more. Paramananda’s book, ‘Change your Mind’ is a good place to start, as is the website Wild Mind, but the best way to learn about meditation is to try it – see our classes on the Newcomers page.