Meditation is the practice of bringing your attention to an object and holding it there.
Most commonly the object is the breath, a mantra or a phrase.
The objects are anchors, something for your mind to hold on to.
If your object is the breath, you place your attention gently on the sensation of the breath.
You notice the breath as you inhale and as you exhale.
You may get in one or two inhales and exhales and then a thought arises.
Initially your attention is grabbed by the thought and takes you along for a few more thoughts. Perhaps you start telling yourself a story about what you’re going to have for lunch.
And then you remember “oh I’m supposed to be watching my breath.” You then let go of the thought and bring your attention back to the breath.
Some thoughts are more attention grabbing than others and have a greater hook making it harder to remain focused on the breath.
But each time you bring your attention back to the breath you strengthen your ability to focus that little bit more.
With practice the space between the thoughts becomes greater.
We learn through repetition to see the thoughts but not get drawn into them.
The reward for not getting caught up in the thoughts is a very peaceful and calm feeling and the mind naturally will want to spend more time there.
It’s unwanted thoughts which cause us stress and anxiety so when we find ourselves able to redirect our attention away from them, we experience peace.
To me that is freedom.