“People are liberated from suffering not when they experience this or that fleeting pleasure, but rather when they understand the impermanent nature of all their feelings, and stop craving them.
This is the aim of Buddhist meditation practices. In meditation, you are supposed to closely observe your mind and body, witness the ceaseless arising and passing of all your feelings, and realise how pointless it is to pursue them.
When the pursuit stops, the mind becomes very relaxed, clear, satisfied. All kinds of feeling go on arising and passing – joy, anger, boredom, lust – but once you stop craving particular feelings, you can just accept them for what they are. You live in the present moment instead of fantasising about what might have been.
It is like a man standing for decades on the seashore, embracing certain ‘good’ waves and trying to prevent them from disintegrating, while simultaneously pushing back ‘bad’ waves to prevent them from getting near him. Day in, day out, the man stands on the beach, driving himself crazy with this fruitless exercise. Eventually, he sits down on the sand and just allows the waves to come and go as they please. How peaceful!”
Source: Yuval Noah Harari, Sapiens: A Brief History of Mankind
This is a great explanation of meditation practice. By answering what, why and how of the thing it is explaining, and by giving an analogy, it allows the reader to understand, synthesise and apply the knowledge. The explanation boils down the thing being explained – meditation practice – to its most fundamental steps and principles. This allows any reader, no matter their background knowledge, to understand the cause-effect relationships that make up the phenomenon being understood. When we read material, we should latch onto explanations like this, because they are the most efficient way to learn (though perhaps only for some – others might thrive on more practical or more abstract explanations), and we should develop the ability to explain things ourselves in this thorough, methodical manner.
Our feelings are fleeting, transient, temporary, impermanent. Yet we crave good feelings to stay, and wish bad feelings to depart. The result is the “ceaseless arising and passing” of feelings. Meditative practice opens our awareness of these turbulent swings of feelings, and encourages us to realise how pointless it is to pursue them.
And when we achieve this awareness, the mind and body becomes relaxed, calm and satisfied.
Meditative practice for more understanding, reflection and… practice, including the potential use, if any, on reducing overeating.