Meditation is a household word, everyone has their idea of what it is, but does this mean that it is more misunderstood than understood?

In Meditating: A Buddhist View, released in July, Jinananda describes meditation as ‘the setting up of conditions for an ever more positive mental state to arise.’ The aim of meditation, he explains, ‘is to develop a continuous flow of positive mental states.’ And the key word here is ‘continuous.’ ‘Everyone has positive mental states from time to time,’ Jinananda writes. ‘We all know what it is to be happy, content, joyful, kind and generous. Meditation involves consciously sustaining a continuous flow of such positive states.’

This may feel very far from our current experience with all its difficulties and frustrations. Yet Jinananda believes that the starting point of meditation is our current experience, just as it is. ‘Buddhist meditation is about being true to your experience,’ he explains. ‘The starting point of meditation is to become aware of the flow of what is going on in the mind – whether positive or negative – so that we can learn to direct that flow.’

In this way, meditation can bring us great freedom. It can also bring us great joy as we realize that ‘satisfaction, happiness and absorption are not the end-product of some gratifying thing or experience, but a way of going about things. Happiness is something we bring to life, not something life delivers to us – meditation is the practical application of this simple idea.’

So can you identify a condition for the arising of a more positive mental state that you could put in place now?

‘Meditating: A Buddhist View’ is available to purchase at your local Triratna bookshop and from our website.