Whether meditation, as I understand it, is not creating something (calm, concentration or insight, or what not). Rather it is seeing clearly whatever is happening in the moment in a very simple way. Aiming at, or creating calmness, or insight is trying to start from where we should be. So we always fall back to where we are because we did not start from where we are. Another way of saying it is: Meditation is complete internal communication, or life (problems) understood in depth is meditation.
So there should be no difference between untangling the content of one’s ‘stuff’, working with problems (neurotic, or what not), and meditation. It is all part of the same process.
For me, doing counselling and giving guidance in meditation are not much different. So a person who does not understand people but has a lot of book knowledge is not a meditation teacher (or counsellor) but is a scholar. A person who teaches and guides people according to a formula should not be a meditation teacher!
Most Westerners need a lot of help just untangling the content of their stuff. For this, a worldly teacher can be very helpful… I understood this point a long time ago, and I am getting deeper into this matter. Even when I was in the USA my way of working with people was first to understand their life, their stuff, their problems, and see where they are stuck. Helping them see their problems clearly. The whole point of meditation is just untangling — to untangle internal and external tangles.
So there can be no cut and dried formula for everybody. People are unique. So there should be flexibility. The Buddha himself gave different instructions for different people.
My understanding is that a meditation teacher must be very sensitive. He (or she) must understand himself very deeply. He must be aware of his own tangles; be very creative in dealing with people; understand every person in a deeper way; be gentle and patient in guiding; not be pushing or demanding to make progress which can cause a feeling of inadequacy and unhappiness. He must understand where his student is. You know, we must start from where we are, not from where we should be. So, a teacher must understand where a student is and give him/her guidance so that the student can start from where he/she is.
Meditation, as it’s been taught to and practised by many people, has its limits. That’s because they don’t understand it properly and they are trying to do it as if it is something apart from their life.
Real mindfulness meditation is all-inclusive. No part of our mental and physical life should be left out of our mindfulness. Every aspect of our life should be well understood.
Real practice is natural, moving, living, limitless, should be practised everywhere, every time. A specialised and fragmented approach is unacceptable for me. I am beginning to feel that a specialised, standardised approach is harmful (I have never been able to force, restrict myself to do that). For me meditation is not something special.
(The above texts are copied and quoted from the dhamma book, "Snow In The Summer" By Venerable Sayardaw U Jotika.)