The closest definition of Meditation I have come to is, Meditation is open-ended concentration.
Remember, “open-ended”. Meditation is not an exercise in concentration, or of rigid straight backs for that matter.
The mind has this habit of either dwelling on the past or jumping to the future. It hates staying in the present moment. It normally revels in the gamut of “could”, “would” and “should”. It hates being in the What Is.
Simply put, Meditation is what gets the mind to stay in the What Is. In the beginning there is a meditator who is doing the meditation to achieve an objective. As the meditation progresses, there is no meditator, no objective…just the meditating.
Two things more to contemplate upon.
First, do you remember the geometry theorem we all learnt in school? “The smallest arc of a circle is a straight line.” The present moment is the smallest arc of this circle of life. If this present moment can be perfect, and the next moment, then the moment after that…life becomes a straight line in contrast to the violently rocking boat it is right now. This is what meditation facilitates.
Second, think about this. The body feeds on food, but what does the mind feed on? The mind feeds on “mind stuff” – what the Buddha would refer to as vikars, the knots formed by the mind because of its cravings and aversions, because of its habit of ceaselessly judging the past and restlessly extrapolating into the future, most often at the cost of the present moment.
What happens when the body fasts? The body accesses stored food (fat) to survive. And what would happen if the mind were to “fast” – i.e. stay strictly in the present moment? It begins to dig up and voraciously feed on stored “knots” of mind food. No wonder, after a stint of meditation meditators report feeling “lighter”, “cleaner”.
In the final analysis, the ultimate purpose of meditation is to discover just one answer: Who is it that meditates?