It has come to my attention that there exist some common misconceptions of the art of meditation. One is that meditation is all about not thinking or not feeling and another is that it is an escape to a blissful place. I will attempt here to give my perspective and hopefully clarify the issue.
Meditation to me is a process of progressively facing a truer reality. This process is a personal training regimen to allow the transcendence of the shackles of craving, aversion, and ignorance. Meditation is not confined to sitting quietly: any act of living with awareness and a focus on increasing awareness is meditation. Meditation is simply living true.
The image that meditation is about not thinking is flawed. My meditation involves the process of observing my thought and my reaction to it. Only through this awareness of my mind can I understand that I am not my thoughts and must not allow myself to be enslaved by them; my mind is but a tool for my consciousness.
Thus the quieting of the mind is not so much a goal of the process but a result. Experiencing my thought as it is encourages my mind to begin submitting to my consciousness and to the acknowledgment that its control of the show has been an illusion hard fought to maintain.
Once my mind has begun to become silent the process can begin to focus on my body. As with the observation of my thought, the gradual increasing awareness of my bodies sensations (which thought is simply a special instance of) or feelings and my reaction to them allows me to understand that I am not my body and must not allow myself to be enslaved by its conditioned responses; my body is but a tool for my consciousness.
Thus the image of dulling of emotional responses as a result of meditation is inaccurate. The process of meditation is focused on sharpening emotional response moving away from blunt generalized reactions and moving towards detailed specific experiences of life.
The problem with the blissful escape image is that it does not capture the difficulties of the journey. Coming face to face with a truer version of yourself hurts. The process of transcendence hurts. The come down from excess hurts. As in nature, rebirth is fueled by decay and destruction. The process continues. Once you have accepted a new perception of yourself you realize that there is a deeper truer self to confront.
The results of the journey are a broader, higher, and deeper understanding; an acknowledgement of a connection to something greater than one's own conception of being; and an increased interest in how things are rather than how they seem.