“When we speak of meditation, in the West people have quite exotic ideas of sitting under a mango tree, blissing out, having a good time for the rest of the day, like a relaxation thing. Or they often say when you meditate, you have to blank-out your mind from all thought. So there’s a real misunderstanding about what meditation means.
Usually, when we start meditating, calming down the mind, we become aware of what’s going on in the mind, we say ‘Wow, there are so many thoughts! There are more than ever!’ Actually they’re not more than ever, you’re starting to be aware of what’s going on in your mind, from morning till evening – it’s full of thoughts. Because your mind is like a spoiled brat, constantly moving here and there, ruminating in the past, imagining the future, never in the present moment. So try to focus the mind. We say it’s like the butterfly. The butterfly stays on a flower, then it goes off for no reason, then it comes back. So it’s OK, you’ll be distracted, but bring back your mind. So meditation will help you become the master of your mind.
And becoming master of the mind is not the absence of freedom. Sometimes people think that oh, I’m going to control my mind, I’m sort of reducing my freedom. Take the example of the sailor at sea. What is freedom - to let the boat drift wherever the currents and the winds blow? That’s not freedom, that’s drifting. Real freedom is to take the helm, and navigate where you have chosen to go. That’s freedom. So if you’re in charge of your own mind, that’s freedom.”
Matthieu Ricard, from the National Geographic movie below "The Buddhist Science of the Mind", with Wade Davis