In our modern world, we are consumed from morning till night with endless activity. We do not have much time or energy left over to consider the basic causes of our happiness or suffering. If we take an honest look at ourselves, it is easy to see that we are a mixture of light and shadow, of good qualities and defects. The aim of meditation is to transform the mind. It does not have to be associated with any particular religion. Every one of us has a mind and every one of us can work on it. This mind can be our best friend or our worse enemy. We expend a lot of effort to improve the external conditions of our lives, but in the end, it is always the mind that creates our experience of the world and translates this experience into either well-being or suffering. If we transform our way of perceiving things, we transform the quality of our lives.
What if we could train the mind to become a better, happier, more compassionate human being? It is this kind of transformation that is brought about by the form of mind-training known as meditation.
Meditation is a practice that makes it possible to cultivate and develop certain basic positive human qualities in the same way as other forms of training make it possible to play a musical instrument or acquire any other skill. It would be a pity to underestimate the capacity we have to transform our minds. Each of us possesses the potential needed to free ourselves from the mental states that perpetuate our own suffering and that of others—the potential to find inner peace for ourselves and contribute to the happiness of all beings.
This is why it is important to devote time to meditation practice itself, even if it is only 30 minutes a day. If you practice in the morning, meditation can give your day an entirely new “fragrance.” In a subtle but profound way, its effects can permeate your outlook and approach to the things you do as well as to your relations with the people around you.
As you continue through the day, you can be strengthened by the experience you have had in your formal meditation session. You will be able to refer to it inwardly because it will remain alive in your mind. During pauses in your daily activity, it will be easy for you to revive the meditation experience, which is now familiar, and you will be able to maintain its beneficial effects.
Thus, little by little, through training the mind, you can change your habitual way of being. You can develop a more accurate understanding of reality and a finer understanding of the laws of cause and effect, so you will be less affected by the reversals that inevitably occur in people’s lives, and less carried away by superficial successes.
These are the signs of a genuine personal transformation, a transformation that will enable you to act more effectively in the world you live in and contribute to building a wiser, more altruistic, and kinder society.
At the request of several friends, a few of my colleagues and myself have collaborated to bring about an application, Imagine Clarity, that offers a short course on various types of meditation practices, based on the teachings of our enlightened teachers. We hope that this modest attempt will be useful to other beginner meditators like us.