Gradually, as we practice meditation, our distracting thoughts subside and we begin to feel more peaceful and relaxed. A deep happiness and contentment spontaneously follows. We find that we have more space and clarity to deal with the difficulties that arise in our lives, and we find ourselves responding more compassionately to other people. We realise that we do not have to depend on external conditions to be happy or to dull our senses to have peace. The freedom and peace that we have always yearned for is within our own, everyday mind. We simply needed to gain access to it, and the key that unlocks the door is mindfulness, which we achieve through meditation.
As our practice deepens we come to understand that we create our own reality depending on how we think and act. We realise that we have a choice as to which thoughts to cultivate and which ones to leave alone, so we choose to cultivate helpful, positive thoughts and don't deplete our energy with destructive or negative patterns of thinking. We discover that whether we are unhappy or happy is within our own power. Meditation gives us this choice and freedom.
As our practice deepens further we come to understand that nothing that arises in our minds is solid and real in the way we normally think it is. We realise that we make it solid and real by the way we react. This insight opens the door to an even greater freedom - we no longer need to take ourselves too seriously! At this level of practice we are always in touch with a sense of warmth, spaciousness and freedom within ourselves, regardless of what else is going on in our minds or in the world outside us. We find ourselves naturally extending this feeling of warmth to all other beings who are also struggling and unhappy, and we make the wish that they too can experience this freedom and peace.