It is the ability to glimpse the wonder inherent in things.
The presence of something phenomenal is not required. In the face of pure attention, the banal becomes magical. The blinking cursor on the page, the shape of the symbols on the keyboard, the noise of the computer fan. Even the sound of typing on the keyboard.
Once again: Practicing meditation is learning to see, hear, and feel the world in high definition.
Photo by Adrienn from Pexels
There is an inherent strangeness in the world. Just look with enough attention.
We know what a hand is. It’s a part of our body. We know what constitutes the hand – bones, nervous tissue, muscle tissue, cartilage, etc.
And yet, make the following experience: look at your hand, in a relaxed manner, for a couple of minutes. Do not try to think about it. Just look at it. If you want to go a little further: use it to point directly to your face, to your eyes, and direct your gaze to the tip of your finger.
You do not know what this is. You do not know how it works. You do not know what this sensation is, caused by merely witnessing a part of your body.
Now try it with a pet. It’s a dog. Or a cat. Or an iguana. As in the case of the hand, classification is trivial.
But take a closer look. The movements. The detail of hairs, or skin. The wet of the nose; the pattern that covers the skin of the nose. The very strangeness of the fact of the co-habitation of this being, in harmony with you. The strangeness of its actions, of how it ”is.”
Observed with sufficient attention, setting aside the labels, the classifications… It might as well be an alien that you are observing. It’s strange in the same way an alien would be – you don’t know what it is or how it works, beyond the noun.
Is this how children see the world? I do not know. But it is a plane of experience accessible to all.
Just watch carefully.
To meditate is not to seek a sublime mental or physical state. Meditation can lead to this – often through the practice breathing exercises – but that is not its purpose.
The purpose of a meditation practice is, above all, to notice the filters we apply to our lives, to our perception. Filters that cover our entire sensory experience, constantly, and which are invisible unless:
- We know about their existence.
- We train the concentration needed to detect them.
We wear glasses to see more clearly. We buy bigger TVs to better appreciate the art of film or sport. We use better quality headphones to enjoy with greater definition the instrument’s sound and the voice of the singer.
None of these experiences, however refined, can lead us to the same place meditation takes us.
But meditation, once reached a certain level, brings increased clarity our experience of all these things – and everything else.