Zen and Nirvana are two words closely associated with meditation. However, for most people and even some self-proclaimed meditation practitioners, these words are often interchanged, loosely used, and thrown around to describe bliss or pleasure at its most superficial level. As a result, the misconception that meditation is primarily a practice for seeking out pleasure is strengthened.
Although meditation indeed delivers pleasure to a certain degree, it is not the goal. Pleasure is simply a by-product that stems from achieving the major goals of meditation — inner peace, awareness of the present, satisfaction, and happiness (the kind Buddha defined it to be).
Moreover, pleasure from meditation goes beyond the sensations that normally come from our five senses. Yes, our eyes, nose, ears, tongue, and skin have the ability to make us experience pleasure, but it’s only fleeting.
For instance, gazing at a sweeping view of Paris at night will take your breath away. Spraying on your favourite perfume will pick your mood up right then and there. Tuning out to the music and lyrics of your personal anthem will shield you momentarily from the busyness of life. Indulging on a gooey chocolate cake after a rough day will put a smile on your face. Lastly, melting into the arms of your significant other will make the world “stop”.
These are all examples of sensory pleasure and they’ll only last for a few precious moments. After that, you’re either left seeking or waiting for the next stimulus to come along.
On the other hand, pleasure from meditation is deep and sensory-independent. It’s the kind of pleasure that stays with you. It also has the power to transform even the most ordinary and commonplace occurrence into a fascinating and, believe it or not, pleasurable experience.
Wondering how does it exactly happen?
Begin by changing your definition of pleasure. Pleasure doesn’t have to be intense and ephemeral all the time. In meditation, pleasure comes from inner peace. Pleasure comes from being present. Pleasure comes from the connection of mind and body. When all of these things meet, life in general becomes better. And of course pleasure comes from that, too.
Compared with the conventional meaning of pleasure, this may sound subtle and vague. But true seekers of meditation understand what this means. They’ve either experienced it or they’re well on their way to experiencing it.
Profound pleasure results from satisfaction and fulfilment. So, ask yourself: Am I satisfied? Do I feel fulfilled? If you answer “YES” to both questions, then you’re definitely experiencing pleasure. The time you spent on meditation is clearly paying off.