Lessons on Meditation

I learned about “being” meditation, where the focus in not on my breath, rather just on focusing on the inner sense of being. What is interesting about this meditation is that the mind no longer has a job. There is no longer internal dialog of “I’m focusing on my breath. I’m focusing on my breath.” Rather it seems to quiet the mind so long as my focus remains on my internal sense of being.

What was interesting about it, is that I came to realize how much work keeping up my ego really is. The world that the mind creates is constantly changing and churning. And this is tiresome. So the welcome relief from not actually thinking about anything, was quite nice for a change.

I also noticed that my ego doesn’t want to just be; it wants to churn, since without the churning, my own sense of self that I try so hard to prop up dissipates. Who am I, if I am not anything, after all? Which is what the focus on being shows, that there is still peaceful existence that I can find outside of my own self.

Put another way, this meditation offers peace FROM mind, instead of peace OF mind. I’m guessing that peace of mind will come from better CBT work, or other methods of manipulating the assumptions that bring me pain. But meditation offer peace from mind, which is a more whole peace in many ways. It does leave me with a question of if this is truly peace, since I’m not sure there can be peace without war, so this experience might better be described as just touching life itself.

P.S. It is one of my foundational beliefs that much of that we search for outside of ourselves is due to the fact that we know from subtle internal queues that there are certainly internal truths. Due to the fog of our mind, we can’t quite reach these truths, but we know intuitively that they are true, and since we can’t finding them within, we search outside of ourselves. One of these internal truths is that we exist. We look outside for self validation that we exist, until we can find that truth for ourselves on the inside. The other three that come to mind are wholeness, love, and oneness.

Simultaneous Living

It seems that there are two distinct places where I can focus my attention. The first is the world of the mind connected to thinking, which we commonly refer to as ego, which from a young age has created a separate and distinct sense of self from everything that surrounds me. I am and I exist distinctly. The other is from the connection to the underlying consciousness that tends to be broader and interconnected with all of the universe. In this place, there is no I, there just is interconnection with everything.

Having said that, in my own experience, the interconnection did seem to happen from a perspective I. Meaning that I was interconnected with everything else. And in that experience, the I did seem to melt away into the expansiveness of everything, but since it has been so long in my memory, the I had the experience, so I can’t say with absolute certainty that the I disappeared. In fact, this is an experience I have been trying for years (without success) to return to and experience with greater presence of mind.

Regardless of if there is no place for I in the world of consciousness, it certainly is a different mental space, which just seems to exist and is stable, steady, and quiet, unlike the the part of my mind connected to thinking, which is constant, and noisy, and loud. And it is this part of my mind, that pushes itself to the forefront, either by design, or perhaps habit.

On an aside, thinking back, what I am now referring to as consciousness, I had previously noticed, but thought of as the border of the subconscious. In the past, I had thought of it like a membrane, where thoughts could go back and forth, but the underlying reality was a black box that my conscious mind could not access. I mention this since my mind model is constantly changing, and integrating new information, and am not sure if I might be incorrect before or now, or in both cases. As I look within, it is also possible that both of these are true, and are just of different focuses within the mind.

Running with my current thinking, though, there does seem to be a quiet part of my mind that I can access that is the exact opposite of the noisy part of my mind. When I can quiet my noisy mind, and sink into the peace of that place, I can sit with wholeness, or more correctly I am whole for a few minutes while I visit.

I guess the point of this post is really to tease out how diametrically opposite these two aspects of self are from each other. Thinking more about that, perhaps without the quietness I would not notice the noise, which makes a lot of sense. It is only with the contrasting background of quietness that we can ever hear anything, or it is only by experiencing the noise, that we can notice the silence that sits between it.

The Building Blocks of Mind

For the next few posts, please assume that anything I say is my version of Adyashanti’s teachings. Meaning that I don’t actually know if this is what he means to be saying and I am a successful student, or they are just my thoughts but are not really what he is trying to communicate. Either way, I credit him with what I have been learning.

Looking within, I can identify four domains.

Underlying everything is my consciousness, which is the true sense of existence that I can sense and feel but that seems to be deeper than all thought and feeling. Consciousness is the grounded, calm nature that seems to sit at the very bottom of my mind, and my self, and is foundational in nature. It is here that I believe religious experiences of connection outside of self can be experienced and found.

There is also the domain of thought, which analyses and synthesises information we bring in both in the present and the past. Thinking leads to feelings, desires, and ultimately to action or lack of action. It is also in the realm of thinking that we create our ego, which is a build up of who we are and where we fit in the world. Much of this ego is a house of cards, influenced by our environment, just like most of the arbitrary thoughts we have come to associate ourselves with.

In order to experience consciousness or thought, I use awareness. This seems to be a tool of the mind that simply takes in information. I can use awareness to look internally and be aware of consciousness, to be aware of the thoughts of my mind, the be aware of the feelings in my body, to be aware of feelings of pain, to be aware of external stimuli, as well as all the other things that we make ourselves aware of both internally and externally.

Finally, there is a fourth domain, that seems to be a real construct or tool of the mind, but doesn’t fit into any of the other domains. This domain is experienced as integration of multiple domains. For example, the integration of consciousness and individualized ego (thought) can result in that feeling of individual existence that we have when we are just going about our day. Alternatively, integration between thought and awareness, can create a sense of flow. And finally, integration of awareness and consciousness enables transcendence.

Control vs. Freedom

As I was falling asleep last night, I had a thought. And like all thoughts as I fall asleep, about fifty percent of the time they are insightful and the other half they are foolish. I’m not sure which side this will fall out on, but wanted to flesh it out a bit in writing to see where things end up.

The thought that I came up with is that if there was absolute control, there could be no freedom.

I was wishing that I had absolute control of outcomes in my world, and as I thought about this for a moment, I realized that if I would have absolute control, so would everyone else, which would mean that ultimately, I would have to give up my own freedom at the expense of this hypothetical control.

This still seems to hold up logically today. And thinking a bit more about it, from the perspective of a continuum of control versus freedom, we have control of certain things and not others, and in turn, we have more or less freedom depending on how much control we maintain.

It is kind of the opposite of what I would have expected. I would have thought that through control of parts of my life or impacts to my life, that would have provided freedom. But in truth, what it gives is security. And in taking control of things, it actual curtails my freedom of movement, since something controlled needs to be kept under control, which manifests as a restriction, or lack of freedom, to me.

I think I will work on giving up more control over outcomes, and see what kind of additional freedom that brings to me.

A New Lesson in Anxiety

Reading a book by Anyashanti last night, I had a epiphany about anxiety.

For the past few years, I have approached anxiety from a place that it works by protecting me from something that could bring me harm. A spidey-sense of sorts. And this approach has worked well for bigger issues in my life, where anxiety was warranted, and I was able to use the anxiety to work backwards into what was bothering me, and come up with a game plan to address whatever the issue at hand was bravely.

However, when all is quiet and I look internally, I can still feel anxiety pulsating in my chest near my heart. I don’t like that feeling, and for the last few years have been approaching this anxiety with the same tools, trying to eradicate it, but to constant failure.

What I realized in this reading, is that this steady quiet internal energy, which I label anxiety, might not be due to being scared of something, rather this energy is there to pull me towards something great.

I noticed a while ago that my experience of the energy for both anxiety and excitement seemed to be similar, which struck me as odd, but with this idea, it makes more sense. It’s all part of the same emotional system. In both cases, we are being propelled to action, either action to protect ourselves from harm (anxiety), or to get the good stuff that is coming our way (excitement).

With this lesson, I wonder if perhaps this pent up energy sits there to push me forward in my path.  To egg me on to completion. According to Adyashanti it is a natural reaction to the fact that there is a dissonance between what I intuitively know to be true at an subconscious level and that which I am consciously aware.  This pent up energy has nowhere to go, so it manifests itself as anxiety, which help me keep moving towards true integration, and the pull of reality.

P.S. Of course, some would say that this is just generalized anxiety, but I’m not so sure that this dissonance is not the source of that too. Think about it: typically intelligence and anxiety go hand in hand.