Meditation: Practice and experience

Martine Batchelor

Introduction

In this chapter the fundamentals of meditation and their relevance to wellbeing are described. It is proposed that the basis of Buddhist meditation lies in a combination of concentration and enquiry, regardless of the way in which they are cultivated in different Buddhist traditions. If one considers a certain technique of meditation better than any other due to conceptual or theological convictions, there is the danger of ignoring other techniques that could be useful for some people. By starting from the universal basis of concentration and enquiry, we can see how meditation works across practices and traditions. This chapter explores and explains how being mindful of the breath or asking a question can have a profound effect on people.

The chapter addresses the question: What happens when we meditate? In order to answer this question, it presents the basic principles of concentration and enquiry in reference to different techniques of meditation. The chapter broadens the view to place these two main elements in terms of simple Buddhist psychology. It refines the definitions of concentration as anchoring and of enquiry as experiential and, in doing so, offers a detailed description of mindfulness. It proposes that creative awareness or mindfulness arises from the cultivation of concentration and enquiry.

The chapter concludes by using the framework of concentration and enquiry to examine three types of meditation—listening meditation, mindfulness of feeling tones, and questioning meditation. This analysis demonstrates the applicability and advantages of the framework for understanding the psychological benefits of meditation.

 
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