Anyone here meditate?
I've had a meditation practice on and off for many years. Always found it very valuable for disciplining and calming the mind.
Given that the mind is the source of all of our issues in life, it makes sense to understand how this mind works. As with anything in life, in order to understand something, we need to be able to observe it, to familiarize ourself with it.
So the practice of meditation is first and foremost about observing one's mind.
A few myths and misconceptions...
1. Meditation is zoning out -- not true, in fact meditation is concerned with the opposite of "zoning out", it's concerned with the practice of being fully present, in this moment.
2. (religious objection) Meditation is opening your mind to "evil influences" -- balderdash. Anyway, meditation does not so much "open the mind," as it deepens the capacity for self-awareness and further, for awareness into the transpersonal states. It also has beneficial effects on health, especially when used in conjunction with a physical expercise program (running, weights, etc.).
3. Meditation is too self-preoccupied -- this one I always found funny. Given that the "self" that we experience ourselves to be is the one thing we can't leave behind at home when we go out in the morning, it would seem to behoove us to familiarize ourselves with this "self". Most irresponsible behavior in life is born out of ignorance of one's own tendencies and habits -- literally, not knowing oneself. When Socrates said, "know thyself" he was referring to the antidote to the cause of suffering life, being ignorance of who one is. Buddha based his teachings on the idea that all suffering arises out of a basic ignorance of our real nature.
Knowing one's mind does not involve any sort of avoidance of the world, in fact a meditation practice works best in combination with a healthy social life, that is, engaging the world. When one is concerned only with the world and not with one's own mind, one tends to spend a lot of time projecting onto the world.
To "project" means to see things in the world -- or in others -- that are really in one's own mind. To not recognize them internally is, in essence, to not take responsibility for oneself.
So interestingly, a meditation practice designed to deepen one's understanding of their own mind can actually make one less self-absorbed by making one more responsible for one's actions and interactions with the world.