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What is Meditation?

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What's The Difference Between Sleep and Meditation?

Isn't meditation the same thing as sleep? They're both about relaxation right? What's the difference? We'll address those questions here.

I think anyone who has started a meditation practice or dabbled with it in any way is familiar with the experience of wondering, am I doing this right? And often when we start to get into a more relaxed, dreamy-like state in the meditation, where we're not quite awake, but we're also not quite sleeping. We start to think, wait, maybe this is it. Maybe this is the meditative state that I'm trying to get to. And this is a question that I get a lot. Is that what meditation is? And although it's impossible for me to accurately respond to that in a generic way since there are a lot of nuances to this answer.

In general, if you're wondering if you were sleeping or not in your meditation, you most likely were very relaxed. Perhaps you were even sleeping, but you were not meditating. And this is mainly because falling asleep is about falling asleep. But as Jon Kabat-Zinn says, meditation is about falling awake. And this is a nuance or a distinction that gets lost in the popular conceptualizations of meditation, which is that it's a practice to help us relax, let go of any tension we're holding on to, and essentially escape from reality.

And that couldn't be further from the truth, at least that last part, because if anything, what we're doing, doing is sharpening our attunement to the moment. So when you think about bringing a quality of presence into your life, let's just say into a conversation with someone you care about. Is that quality of presence alert and wakeful, curious focused or is it more dull, really relaxed, checked out and dreamy-like? Most likely it's the former. When we think about what we want to bring into our lives to experience our lives more fully, that quality of presence is wakeful. It's energized, it's precise and sharp.

And yet when it comes to our meditation practice, where often aiming, either consciously or subconsciously, for the opposite. Sitting down, focusing on the breath and trying to relax so deeply that we disconnect or check out. And of course, we're not always doing this and not all of us are doing this, but this is one of the main things I see. And it's understandable because we have so much going on in our lives. There's tons of stress, tons of stimulation that the meditation seems like a great place to take a break from some of that.

But while that can offer a temporary sense of ease and relaxation, especially if you fall asleep, cause you're quite literally disconnected from your life as it's happening. You're not training the mental faculties that we're trying to train in meditation. You're not training the ability to be focused, present while also relaxed and at ease. You're not training the capacity to redirect your attention intentionally. You're not training your ability to notice thoughts as they come and go without being swept away by them.

You're not training your ability to hold an emotion, perhaps an intense emotional state, without being completely consumed by it. Instead it becomes a glorified form of dissociation. So while it might seem like I've gotten a bit off track in this conversation, the main reason I'm highlighting this is because many people who experienced that dream-like, sleepy-like, disconnected, totally relaxed state often think they're meditating, but they're not. Sleep is about falling asleep. Meditation is about falling awake.

And the beautiful thing about meditation is that we can fall awake, we can connect more deeply with our life, be more attuned, more present, and experience that deep peace and relaxation that we experience in a sleep-like state. That's what makes meditation so special. It's a way to be connected in our lives without being consumed or overwhelmed by our lives. So as you continue a meditation practice in your own life, or as you start a meditation practice, keep this in mind. And if you have been meditating evaluate for yourself, how are you using the meditation practice? Is it a way to disconnect? To disassociate? To just relax away from all of the chaos? Or are you using it as a way to come closer to your experience, to bring a quality of groundedness and centeredness to the discomfort, to the wandering mind and to the full landscape of emotions we experience? Meditation helps us improve sleep because we train ourselves to find calm within our thoughts and create ease in our bodies.

But it's different than the experience of sleep itself. Great being with you all today, I'll talk to you soon. And until then, take care.

Talk

4.6

What's The Difference Between Sleep and Meditation?

Isn't meditation the same thing as sleep? They're both about relaxation right? What's the difference? We'll address those questions here.

Duration

Your default time is based on your progress and is changed automatically as you practice.

I think anyone who has started a meditation practice or dabbled with it in any way is familiar with the experience of wondering, am I doing this right? And often when we start to get into a more relaxed, dreamy-like state in the meditation, where we're not quite awake, but we're also not quite sleeping. We start to think, wait, maybe this is it. Maybe this is the meditative state that I'm trying to get to. And this is a question that I get a lot. Is that what meditation is? And although it's impossible for me to accurately respond to that in a generic way since there are a lot of nuances to this answer.

In general, if you're wondering if you were sleeping or not in your meditation, you most likely were very relaxed. Perhaps you were even sleeping, but you were not meditating. And this is mainly because falling asleep is about falling asleep. But as Jon Kabat-Zinn says, meditation is about falling awake. And this is a nuance or a distinction that gets lost in the popular conceptualizations of meditation, which is that it's a practice to help us relax, let go of any tension we're holding on to, and essentially escape from reality.

And that couldn't be further from the truth, at least that last part, because if anything, what we're doing, doing is sharpening our attunement to the moment. So when you think about bringing a quality of presence into your life, let's just say into a conversation with someone you care about. Is that quality of presence alert and wakeful, curious focused or is it more dull, really relaxed, checked out and dreamy-like? Most likely it's the former. When we think about what we want to bring into our lives to experience our lives more fully, that quality of presence is wakeful. It's energized, it's precise and sharp.

And yet when it comes to our meditation practice, where often aiming, either consciously or subconsciously, for the opposite. Sitting down, focusing on the breath and trying to relax so deeply that we disconnect or check out. And of course, we're not always doing this and not all of us are doing this, but this is one of the main things I see. And it's understandable because we have so much going on in our lives. There's tons of stress, tons of stimulation that the meditation seems like a great place to take a break from some of that.

But while that can offer a temporary sense of ease and relaxation, especially if you fall asleep, cause you're quite literally disconnected from your life as it's happening. You're not training the mental faculties that we're trying to train in meditation. You're not training the ability to be focused, present while also relaxed and at ease. You're not training the capacity to redirect your attention intentionally. You're not training your ability to notice thoughts as they come and go without being swept away by them.

You're not training your ability to hold an emotion, perhaps an intense emotional state, without being completely consumed by it. Instead it becomes a glorified form of dissociation. So while it might seem like I've gotten a bit off track in this conversation, the main reason I'm highlighting this is because many people who experienced that dream-like, sleepy-like, disconnected, totally relaxed state often think they're meditating, but they're not. Sleep is about falling asleep. Meditation is about falling awake.

And the beautiful thing about meditation is that we can fall awake, we can connect more deeply with our life, be more attuned, more present, and experience that deep peace and relaxation that we experience in a sleep-like state. That's what makes meditation so special. It's a way to be connected in our lives without being consumed or overwhelmed by our lives. So as you continue a meditation practice in your own life, or as you start a meditation practice, keep this in mind. And if you have been meditating evaluate for yourself, how are you using the meditation practice? Is it a way to disconnect? To disassociate? To just relax away from all of the chaos? Or are you using it as a way to come closer to your experience, to bring a quality of groundedness and centeredness to the discomfort, to the wandering mind and to the full landscape of emotions we experience? Meditation helps us improve sleep because we train ourselves to find calm within our thoughts and create ease in our bodies.

But it's different than the experience of sleep itself. Great being with you all today, I'll talk to you soon. And until then, take care.

Talk

4.6

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