What distinguishes us from other species are all features of our capacity for imagination. Things like belief, language, sense of time, awareness of death and abstract thought. It says it in the name; homo sapiens, we are thinkers, dreamers, visionaries. So it is deeply human to sit in silence and think.
However, the part where we sit in silence with eyes closed has come to be not so socially normal. But that's precisely what made it become an almost political act. I consider meditation an act of resistance. Quite counterintuitively, because it is highly human to sit in silence and imagine things. So to be human is to resist modern society, one sitting at a time.
And the mind, that's what I had a thought about as I was starting my meditation this morning. It was more of a guided visualization and the host was saying —just as I believe— how powerful it is to be able to imagine anything in the mind's eye and hang out there, in peace, for a while.
For a moment, I thought, wait, this can actually be better than watching a movie, because you can do it anywhere and create characters exactly how you want and conceive of settings and places made of your favourite attributes. Then I quickly remembered meditation is not entertainment. It's not distraction. You can't have a plot in meditation, that's just day-dreaming and it's a bit too active.
Having a plot breaks the point. And even if you could construct a plot in real time in your imagination, would it really be entertaining? Since you're the one coming up with its twists and turns, there's no element of surprise, no discovery. Although it is true one can be surprised by the paths the imagination takes sometimes. I know I've been. But nonetheless, that's not the point of mindfulness meditation —not that meditation has a point, it's not meant to be a means nor an end, it's just being. (Although let's be real, the point of meditation is to build a streak on your habit tracker, right?)
To me, the point is imagination. Taking a moment to be outside of the world, outside of time, in a dimension I get to invent. That I get to whip up from my personal taste, curent mood. An imaginary place that reflects my identity, my mind, my self. And it can change, it can always be new. If you want. But even better, you get to revisit these places every time, and build belonging to them. From you, to you. Like your own little she-shed you get to escape to and become fond of, build memories in. Memories of being, breathing, time passing, pure calm and emptiness.
That is the power of the mind. The power of the human brain; imagination. Plain ol' imagining of things that don't exist. Things that get to be whatever you want, and you can try again and again and again until you find something that feels good, something that feels like home, something that feels like you, or like everyone else, together at the same time in a big cosmic dance. Yes, you can meditate your way to your own custom little LSD trip, absolutely you can! You can also picture yourself in one of your unlived lives and observe how you feel, what your senses are detecting around you, what your house is like. An infinite parallel universe right there, behind your eyes. Always accessible like a little Swiss army knife to cut through the fog of reality from time to time.