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Meditation

Meditation is a deliberate attempt to pierce into the higher states of consciousness and finally go beyond it. The art of meditation is the art of shifting the focus of attention to ever subtler levels, without losing one's grip on the levels left behind. In a way it is like having death under control. One begins with the lowest levels: social circumstances, customs and habits; physical surroundings, the posture and the breathing of the body; the senses, their sensations and perceptions; the mind, its thoughts and feelings; until the entire mechanism of personality is grasped and firmly held. The final stage of meditation is reached when the sense of identity goes beyond the 'I-am-so-and-so', beyond 'so-I-am', beyond 'I-am-the-witness-only', beyond 'there-is', beyond all ideas into the impersonally personal pure-being.

From I Am That by Nisargadatta Maharaj

I recently stumbled on the book I Am That by Nisargadatta Maharaj. (Check out this awesome website nirvikalpa for quotes from this book (click on quotes), as well as a variety of quotes from other mind-bending sources).

I Am That is blowing my mind! I had heard of it a while back from a friend, and it finally made its way into my awareness. I love divine timing. Truly, I am shocked by the impact the teachings are having on my experience in such a short time.

This past month I could do very little meditation, because I didn't want to pierce the level of consciousness that was holding the preciousness of some connections with people in my awareness, particularly one that I'd made and lost. I didn't want to move beyond what had happened in my life with meditation, as I held the irrational thought that the situation would be destroyed even further by easing my grip. Of course, I knew this was counter to what I've learned to be true, but I had to allow myself to regress back to my fearful reflexes. Because the act of meditation moves us out of our known experiences and opens us to new perception, it held no appeal for me. I stubbornly didn't want to go beyond.

However, I've felt myself ready to focus beyond my limited versions of my story, to open and trust, and to finally recognize the feeling of separation as the ultimate illusion I was buying into. Little by little I've begun to see my experience more objectively, to gather in all of the gifts, and to find my perception shifting.

I've welcomed meditation back into the fold, as a place to go within for quiet, for more insight, and for peace.

I was ripe for it when I came across the book I Am That. It is direct and to the point, suggesting that we continually locate the observer of our experience. The teachings are absolutely focused on becoming free, without the often unnecessary content that fills the pages of many books on consciousness, but in the end serve as mainly distractions down dead-end roads. At this point in me life, I'm looking for something straightforward and penetrating. I Am That, is just that.

Wayne Dyer talks about meditation as more of a destination to which he must travel each day to return to what is real, a place of oneness and silence--the only state in a world of duality that can't be divided. He says it is the way we can know ourselves.

It has been in moments of meditation that I have been gifted images or phrases that have had intrinsic value and profound teachings for me, revealing much about my state of consciousness, as well as widening the boundaries of my limited understanding; showing me possibilities I couldn't quite conceive of before.

Whether I meditate regularly or not, meditation has become an integral part of my survival, just as important as fresh air and sunshine. I can see how it has helped me to deepen my trust within my heart, which has had much more staying power than the intellectual reasoning I was once so fond of. I am finding that most of the truths heralded from the world, feel quite untrue in the end. What has appeared in my heart feels the closest to any kind of a truthful reality, which would actually hold any lasting meaning for existence.

We are all meditating, much of the time, even if we aren't piercing the higher states of consciousness. This has made me find much more value in skill building, which I believe is a form of meditation, getting us out of the cycling of our thoughts, and which helps us to develop focus for staying with meditation to reach deeper levels of consciousness.

I used to have to spend much time memorizing piano music away from the piano. This took enormous focus for me to be able to visualize in my mind my hands playing all the layers of music on the keyboard, without the aid of my actual hands moving, or the visual and spacial cues of a physical keyboard. At first I felt lost without the aid of the piano and muscle memory that would often kick in and become automatic at the keyboard, even if I couldn't tell you what notes I was playing. I knew, however, that to reach a secure state of performance from memory, I needed to have more than just muscle memory. I needed to know what I was playing on a deeper level, hence, began the memory work away from the keyboard.

It was extremely difficult in the beginning, until I began to develop the skill. I remember memorizing a Bach fugue away from the piano, beginning with one voice, and then having to visualize the next voice and the subsequent layers upon layers of musical texture building upon each other. It took me days of spending a few hours in exhausting focus just to get beyond the first line of music! Then it got easier. Just thinking back to this visualizing feels treacherous. It was excruciatingly difficult! I was having to literally construct and perform the music from a completely different part of my brain.

The practice of such intense mental focus has helped me to find some ease in meditation, to sit in quiet and observe what comes through, much like watching a piece of music unfolding, while still maintaining some link to physical reality. Of course, meditation is much easier than memorizing music, but it requires the same mental focus and letting go of the mind's dialogue that what I am attempting is impossible.

What has helped you focus your mind? What lessons or hints might it have for you in your meditation?

Maharaj suggests that we meditate on the phrase Who am I? and see what comes. Try it. Just even for one meditation. Go to sleep pondering this question. (In a later post I will share what answer I received, but will leave it out here to let you have this experience fresh).

If I could see any reason to meditate, it would be to discover all parts of ourselves, how we move, how we think, what patterns we consistently create in our lives; to cultivate an awareness so astute, that we find ourselves shifting gently into new awareness, letting go of the old ways that no longer serve us, and moving into places of freedom, ease, and abundance. To unearth who we are independent of our conditioning, and to learn what we truly value; to recognize our divine inheritance and worth to have that which we truly value, and to create new patterns of living-- and in doing so, create a new kind of world.

I could have never imagined meditation being part of my life. It felt like it was just another thing I should do, but couldn't. That was until I realized I could do it MY way--that it didn't have to look any certain way. I could get comfortable, and have no expectations. I could vary the forms. I could do it for a long time or a little, with others, without others. The possibilities were endless. That was when meditation became a part of my life, and began to work for me rather than against me. And, of course, it goes without saying that this flexible approach to anything will free it up. Try it with physical exercise!

Happy 4th, to U.S. readers, (happy Sunday to the international ones)--and when you are listening to all that patriotic song and dance, remember it is truly a celebration of our human spirit; the war with ourselves is over, and here we are, still standing, our banners waving high.

PS. Here are some quotes by Maharaj that speak to me in particular, although, everything he writes seems to speak to a part of myself wanting to remember. I welcome his direct approach, as it appeals to a part of me very ready for focus:

You begin by letting thoughts flow and watching them. The very observation slows down the mind till it stops altogether. Once the mind is quiet, keep it quiet. Don't get bored with peace, be in it, go deeper into it.

You must watch yourself continuously - particularly your mind - moment by moment, missing nothing. This witnessing is essential for the separation of the self from the not-self.

The witness is the reflection of the real in all its purity. It depends on the condition of the mind. Where clarity and detachment predominate, the witness-consciousness comes into being.

Without the witness it (consciousness) becomes unconsciousness, just living. The witness is latent in every state of consciousness, just like light in every colour. There can be no knowledge without the knower and no knower without his witness.

The more earnest you are at remembering what needs to be remembered, the sooner you will be aware of yourself as you are, for memory will become experience. Earnestness reveals being. What is imagined and willed becomes actuality - here lies the danger as well as the way out.

What you seek is to express in action what you are. For this you have a body and a mind. Take them in hand and make them serve you.



Comments

  1. "Don't get bored with peace, be in it, go deeper into it."

    Beautiful! I think that is a problem many people have, our culture has. Let's go deeper!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks for describing many great insights as to why mediation is so valuable!

    I do agree!

    Looking forward to checking out this book!

    ReplyDelete

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