“The best spiritual practice is to be still” - Ramana Maharshi
One of my favorite things to do is sit down and meditate. Because it really does feel like I'm coming home. People that have never meditated or “don’t know how,” ask me “isn’t that boring?” Ever since my first time meditating it has never been boring. When have you ever, in your conscious life, sat down and actually just do nothing at all.
Going through childhood we are taught to always be doing something and stay busy. People always want you to be doing something to set yourself up to be happy in the future. Work on school to get a good job, meet a guy or girl, “settle down,” and live life. Preparing for the future is great but if you’re constantly worrying about being happy in the future how can you ever be truly happy here and now? Is there an end?
Learning to slow down and pay attention to my experience has brought me an increased joy, and amazement for reality. I use meditation and awareness practice to understand reality. Because how can I expect to find that understanding if I'm not even going to pay attention to what I'm trying to understand?
The holy grail of personal development work and spirituality is enlightenment. Theres a lot of different ways to say it, you can choose whatever terminology you want. Finding god, waking up, ego death, buddha mind, christ consciousness, the tao, brahman etc. What all of this is is realizing the nature of existence. essentially becoming the source. It doesn't quite make sense to me that the source of existence is a man, character, energy, or any “thing” at all. Because wouldn't that just be another part of existence? If the source is a thing, then whats the source of that thing? In my logic and experience the source can only be traced back to pure nothingness. Which is how they communicate it in buddhism.
Take the yin yang symbol for example. I’ve heard many different interpretations of this. But what it is expressing is contrast. You can’t have positive without negative. You can’t have good without bad. You can’t have right without wrong. And you can’t have something without nothing. If there were no negative, there would be nothing in contrast to positive to show that it is positive.
This may be one reason why people gossip. People get together in groups and talk about “bad people,” or whats “wrong” with the world. These people need this because talking about the “bad” reassures them that they are “good” people. They need that contrast to let them feel like they're “good,” “positive,” or “right.”
So what I'm getting at is that something and nothing are two sides to the same coin. Meditation is going to help you flip that coin.
A big reason as to why I'm turned off from most religion is that the source isn't what you think it is. God isn't just what you want it to be. Your idea isn't absolute, its relative. Applying a word to the unexplainable puts an image in your head. Which isn't the real thing, its an image. This is why I meditate. To let go of my ideas and observe whats at the core of my experience.
One of my favorite techniques is the “do nothing” technique. Sit down and just notice the content that makes up your experience. Notice your body and all of its sensations. Then that fades away and you enter the mind activity. Watch your thoughts. Notice that thought triggers emotion and emotion triggers thought. Also notice that your thoughts are happening without your approval. They just appear out of nowhere and dissolve back into nothing. This observation naturally brings up the question of free will. Do you believe you're in control? Thought is the root of all action, and if were not controlling our thoughts were not controlling our actions. I mean, if we were really in control, wouldn't we choose to be happy all of the time?
All enlightenment is is simply noticing what is already there (or not there). And its a lot easier to notice things when you’re being still in meditation. A busy body is a busy mind.
Most people are completely unaware of their own sensations most of the time. In order to understand this you first need to intensely practice awareness for at least two weeks. Pay close attention to your experience as much as you possibly can. Even during the most mundane things like eating, walking, and most importantly in social situations. Because its totally natural to assume that you're at the peak level of awareness. You can only be aware of what you're aware of. But when you’re unaware, you’re unaware that you are unaware. Only an unaware person would say that they are aware. Its the most difficult thing I’ve ever tried to do in my life. If we’re unaware of the most palpable aspects of reality how can we realize the source of it.
The ego, anything external, your own thoughts and emotions, all bodily sensations is all just content. Content is reality. And everything in existence is just sensations, or content. What we’re doing with meditation is retreating to, or trying to first realize the context of our experience. The context is where everything in reality is taking place. The farthest i’ve gone is pure awareness. How could there be an experience if theres no awareness. Its the essence of existence. This is Kenshō, the first contact with enlightenment. The first time you experience a new point of view. You might also notice that the object of awareness and the awareness itself are always arising together. So are they the same thing? Is everything just awareness? And if there is no object of awareness, would there be any awareness at all? Or just absolute nothingness? Is that pure awareness what I actually am?
You need to put in the meditation, and contemplation to actually realize and experience it.
With this busy lifestyle, we are constantly focused on the content. So focused we don't even know there is a context in the first place. And with meditation as a tool, we can use it to get away from the content.
On a lighter note, meditation is also a great tool even if you aren't actively seeking existential truth. Since this modern society way of life is busy and chaotic, its important to slow down every once in a while. There has been many proven studies on the subject. Many studies have shown that meditation helps with; reducing stress and anxiety, lowering blood pressure and heart rate, increase concentration, control addiction, preserve the aging brain, reduce depression, and a lot more.
You also might have heard of floatation therapy or sensory deprivation. These are two of the same thing and really equivalent to meditation. A float tank just makes it easier. In Sweden, floatation therapy is covered on their health care because they know thats just how you take care of yourself. Not only do you need to eat healthy and exercise to maintain your body. But you also need to maintain your mind. The mind and body are intertwined. Two sides to the same coin.
Ever since I started meditating three years ago I’ve been a lot more relaxed, and not as much bothers me. Im much more content. My experience is rich and full because I'm more in touch and sensitive to it. Everything is enhanced, and even the negative thoughts and emotions as well. So be prepared, there is a dark side to meditation. If you commit to it you will eventually go through some intense mood swings. But thats a good indication that your making progress.
So if you are reading this and you're not looking for self discovery, I encourage you to think about it. And if you do start meditating you probably will eventually. Wonder if what you think you are is a complete misconception. How nice it would be if there was something more to this reality. Because dwelling in the ego and content of your experience is going to, and already has, cause a lot of suffering. Wouldn't it be nice to live life with a little, or a lot, less suffering? The self, and the illusion of control is the main cause of it anyway. So lets put aside the deep, dark desire to control everything. Let go of our self and what we think is true, or “should be,” and sit back, relax, and watch this life unfold before us, all embracing.
Do Nothing Technique:
Get in a comfortable position. Close your eyes, or keep them open, whichever is most comfortable. Now just let go for a while. Let go of your need to control. Just let everything unfold. Don't try to control your thoughts. Just watch them appear and fade away. It doesn't matter if your mind is chaotic. It just wants to be heard. The only thing you're doing is staying aware of your experience. Simply be still and observe. And you don't need to be in meditation for an hour. Try ten minutes, or even just five. Then as you gain more experience you can bump it up to twenty, then thirty and forty. This technique will feel very refreshing, because when have you ever just spent time to really listen to your thoughts. Even the thoughts you don't want or “need” to listen to.
Object of awareness technique:
This technique is very similar to the do nothing technique. But as you watch all of your senses, recognize and label each sense as an object of awareness. When you recognize that your thoughts and emotions are just objects of awareness that takes all of their power away. When you do this your mind will come to stillness a little quicker. And this helps you understand whats going on with your experience. Watch yourself, the very core of your identity. See this as what it is, an object of awareness. Do this for every sense.
This one is also similar to the last two, just a little more advanced. The trick is to focus on nothing at all. Ignore all senses and only pay attention to the underlying stillness of your experience. This is a lot easier if you've already experienced enlightenment. But it can still be a good technique for a meditator with a little more experience. As you do this you will space out. And its likely that you will eventually enter “Samadhi.” Samadhi is a sanskrit word for a specific sate of consciousness. Its basically experiencing nothing. A good indication that you achieved this is if a lot of time goes by and it only feels like a little time has passed. Say if end up meditating for forty minutes and it feels like you went for ten. Usually you go unaware during Samadhi, which is why you find out you were there after you come out of it. But it is possible to be at a high level of awareness in this state of mind.
I hope you enjoy these as much as I do. It doesn't have to be a chore. Think of meditation as experiments. You're seeing what you can do and what is possible with your mind. Use it to explore your consciousness. You're seeing if there is anything more to this reality. And these are all things that nobody can tell you. Experience it for yourself and have fun with it.