I was reflecting on meditation the other day, something I have practiced, taught and done research on for decades, and the following way to characterize two quite distinct approaches to meditation occurred to me.
In one version, which in my experience characterizes 99.99% of all meditation techniques taught and also studied by the scientific community, there is an attempt, even if exceedingly subtle, to move from Point A (one’s present mind-body state) to Point B (whatever state we aspire to be in). This imagined state we wish to travel to (Point B) might be described in any number of ways: happier, more peaceful and content, more mindful or awake, less self-identified and so on. But regardless of how Point B might be construed, that in a nutshell is meditation as it is almost universally understood and practiced—the journey from Point A to B, from “here” to “there.”
Now irrespective of how we may characterize it, a key thing to consider is why we even seek to get from Point A to Point B in the first place. At one level, I think the answer is quite simple—we set out on this journey because we imagine that whatever it is we hope to find by arriving at Point B is somehow absent from where we presently reside (Point A). But the question is, is that actually true, or could it be that everything we’re seeking in Point B is already present, right where we find ourselves, now. No traveling necessary! Which brings us to the second approach to meditation and that is this: Instead of journeying to some other place (our metaphoric Point B), we remain right where we are, at Point A. That’s it! Regardless of how lofty or rarefied we may imagine Point B to be, in this style of meditation, we employ no effort to travel anywhere. We simply rest in and as Point A, however Point A may appear or be described.
So, with those two distinctive approaches in mind, next time you sit to practice this thing called “meditation,” just consider this: Is it necessary (even very, very subtly) to move away from Point A to arrive somewhere else? Or can you simply remain right where you are, ever cognizant of the fact that this “place” or “moment” you now find yourself in, is forever moving and shapeshifting into the next thing.
And who knows, as you experiment with this other approach (remaining at Point A), you might just discover that there never really was a discrete state or place called “Point A” (or “Point B”) to begin with but only ever this ceaseless, indescribable flow of experiencing. No points or locations anywhere to be found.