Meditation is the greatest gift anyone can stumble upon in life. Its benefits range from helping to ease the mind, connecting better to others through empathy, improving one’s alertness and awareness though mindfulness, or awakening innate wisdom.
Anyone can learn it, all it takes is practice and perseverance, and as such it is not that different from learning an instrument, or a language. Similarly it takes regular and devoted practice and what you put in is what you get out. It is not complicated. In fact it is rather simple. That said, our minds have already, and perhaps unknowingly, been trained by us to act in a certain way where it tends towards creating stories and fantasies and daydreams which leads us away from being aware in the present moment to what we are experiencing in that moment. As such meditation can be seen as re-training the mind to be present, or perhaps more specifically, to pay close attention. As such it is the sustained effort to focus the mind in the present moment.
We do this by focusing on whatever appears to our awareness in either the body or the mind. When we continue to do this we gradually change the course of the stream of consciousness away from its habitual mode of slipping into the future or past, into daydreaming, storytelling, or identification with those stories.
We want to gradually retrain the mind in order to highlight awareness established in the present moment. This leads to increased happiness as much of our suffering relates to thinking about the future and the past. It disentangles us from our obsessive identification with needing a narrative to live in and it helps us to create space for things to be observed clearly, where we can see their nature unfolding, and as such clear up any wrong notions we may have about them. In this way wisdom slowly arises. As wisdom arises we see that we often suffer because we misunderstand our relationship to things. We can sift through and see clearly the layers of the mind that get added on to experience, layers that we get entangled in and that don’t even need to be there. Freedom is to see this clearly so we are free from the painful results of our own misunderstanding.
Note: Even though it is helpful to concentrate the mind in almost any form of meditation, it is highly recommended to learn meditation properly from a qualified teacher.