The function of meditation practice is to heal and transform. It helps us to be whole, and to look deeply into ourselves and around us in order to realize what is really there. The energy that is used in meditation is mindfulness to look deeply into the heart of things in order to see their true nature. When mindfulness is present, meditation is present. Mindfulness helps us to understand g the true essence of the object of meditation - whether it is perception, an emotion, an action, a reaction, the presence of a person or object.
By looking deeply, the meditation practitioner gains insight, prajna, or wisdom. This insight has the power to liberate us from our own suffering and bondage. In the meditation process, fetters are undone, internal blocks of suffering such as fear, anger, despair and hatred get removed, relationships with humans and nature become easier, and there is freedom and joy. We become aware of what is inside us and around us; we are fresher, and we become more alive in our daily existence. As we become freer and happier, we cease to act in ways that makes others suffer, and we are able to bring about change around us and to help others become free. Isn't that wonderful?
The meditation practitioner is like a lotus flower in the process of blooming. Buddha's are fully bloomed human flowers, beautiful and refreshing. All of us are Buddha's-to-be. That is why in practice centers when people meet each other, they form a lotus with their palms and greet each other while bowing saying, 'a lotus for you. As they inhale while saying 'a lotus for you' and exhale, smiling, while saying "a Buddha-to-be", they have the appearance of a blooming flower.
It may be possible for you to meditate on your own, without a teacher or a Sangha, namely, Buddhist community of practice. But it goes without saying that to practice with a teacher and a Sangha is more advisable and much easier. A teacher is someone who has had the experience of the practice, and has succeeded in ti. A Sangha is a meditation community where everyone follows more or less the same kind of practice. Since everyone is doing the same practice, it becomes easier for you to practice too, because the group energy emitted by the Sangha is strong and very supportive. You can also learn a great deal from individual members of the Sangha, especially those who have realized some degree of peace and transformation. There are many things you may find difficult to do when alone, but in the presence of the Sangha you can do them easily. All of us who have practiced with a Sangha can testify to this fact........
In the Buddhist tradition, we consider Sangha one of the three gems. The three gems are Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. As we see it, the three gems are already in your heart. The Sangha in yourself may guide you to the Sangha that is somewhere near you. Maybe the teacher and the Sangha are right there, very close to you, but you have not yet noticed. With practice, you will generate the energy of mindfulness, which may lead you towards a teacher and a community.