THE PROCESS OF MEDITATION
In everyday life, as you live in your “normal” state of consciousness, your awareness is usually focused upon the particular thoughts, emotions, perceptions and experiences you have on the surface level of your awareness, whether they are the experiences, perceptions and actions of your outer life, or the thoughts and feelings that occupy your inner world. As you engage in all these particular activities of life, you do so with the assistance of your thinking mind, the active portion of your mind that works on this surface level of reality. Your awareness is usually identified with—caught up in and attached to—these particular activities in which your thinking mind is engaged. And yet, you are more—you are ultimately pure consciousness. When you remain identified with, and therefore limited to, these surface activities of your mind, however—these surface appearances of your deeper being—you are far less able to access the greater awareness, knowledge and power available at the more fundamental level of pure consciousness.
In the practice of meditation you seek to still your thinking mind, thereby freeing your awareness from the surface level of reality. By doing this, you come into greater connection to the state of pure consciousness, where you have unconditioned awareness. This is awareness itself, without being shaped into the specific forms of awareness that your thoughts, emotions, perceptions and actions define. Your awareness expands beyond these particular forms into a state where there are no thoughts or particular states of mind, yet with potentially unlimited awareness, knowledge and power. Meditation is the process by which you seek to re-condition your awareness so that you release your attachment to the surface level of reality and instead allow it to gravitate towards this state of pure awareness, pure consciousness. As you develop this reconditioning of awareness, you become able to rest within the state of pure consciousness—you become one with it—and the knowledge and power inherent in it become available to you. Special abilities you would not otherwise have, should your awareness remain attached to the surface level of your mind, are the result.
To gain these potential benefits of meditation, by virtue of this reconditioning of the awareness, you should engage in regular practice—usually on a daily basis. Meditation does not provide all its benefits all at once, but over time, as the practice itself re-conditions your awareness more towards the state of pure consciousness. In each daily meditation session, you will encourage your awareness, through the use of a certain technique, to free itself from the surface level of your thinking mind and instead come into greater contact with the field of pure consciousness. You will therefore practice achieving a state of pure awareness on a daily basis.
As you progress in your meditation practice, your tendency to come into greater contact with this state of pure awareness will be present not only during your meditation sessions, but will tend to “carry over” to the rest of your life as well. Your entire life experience—thoughts, feelings, actions and perceptions—will acquire a new, more fundamental ground in this state of pure consciousness. You develop the ability to contact and act from this deeper awareness throughout the day, instead of being constantly bound by, and identified with, the surface level of your mind. This ability may also be called upon during times when such awareness and abilities are specifically needed, too—during the practice of energy healing, for example. When you employ any particular energy healing technique you are merely seeking to channel the knowledge and power of pure consciousness in a specific way for healing work. When you acquire greater connection to this state of pure consciousness, your use of all your healing techniques becomes greatly enlivened and much more effective. You are able to access more of the knowledge of the state of pure consciousness, to sense the condition of the energy field of your patient. You become a stronger, purer channel for the healing power inherent in pure consciousness, to bring it to your patient in the way needed to heal. Because you are in closer connection with the state of pure consciousness that is also the ultimate source of health and wellness, the regular practice of meditation also tends to refine and enhance the functioning of your body, mind and spirit—to bring greater peace, effectiveness and harmony to all levels of your being. You are additionally able to convey these same benefits to your healing patients—to more effectively place health in those with serious physical illnesses, for example.
It is your release of identification with, and subsequent gradual quiescence of, the “busy” surface activity of your mind—and your concurrent ability to come into greater connection with the field of pure consciousness that lies underneath it and is its source—that provides you all these benefits. There are many forms of meditation, but to quiet the surface level of the mind and contact this state of pure awareness is the goal of meditation in all its forms. The many different kinds of meditation employ various techniques to work towards this desirable goal, but the overall process remains the same.
Meditation Using a Symbol:
Meditation, in one form, is practiced with the use of a symbol. In this form of meditation you encourage your awareness to remain focused upon just the symbol, instead of becoming identified with, caught up in and attached to the series of thoughts and emotions that would otherwise occupy it. The symbol provides a prop, a single object which you sense in an effortless way as you gently encourage your awareness to remain on it alone. Sensing the symbol alone assists in reducing the activity of your thinking mind, because your mind no longer feeds off its own activity, from one thought or emotion to the next. Stabilizing your awareness upon just the meditation symbol allows the activity of the surface level of your mind, your thinking mind, to “wind down,” to decrease in activity, slowly but surely.
As you meditate, you will usually still have thoughts and emotions arise, at least in the beginning, but you will simply recognize them to be distractions, and just allow them to drop away as you bring your awareness back effortlessly to the symbol alone. As you continue to meditate on the symbol, the activity of your mind winds down more and more, and you settle to progressively deeper and deeper levels of awareness. Whenever thoughts and emotions continue to arise in your mind as it “winds down,” you again do not identify with them, and so, gradually they become fewer and fewer.
Your awareness may drift from the symbol many times while you are meditating, especially at first, but by simply and effortlessly coming back to the symbol your practice is slowly but surely refined. Eventually you will become adept at keeping the symbol alone in the awareness, and achieve a quiet mind. This may be a surprise, at first—to be awake and conscious, yet with no thoughts. You may begin to have such experiences of pure awareness, perhaps for just an instant at first. You will have completely released your identification with the surface level of the mind, and have begun to establish yourself in the state of pure consciousness. At this level of pure consciousness, you, the object of meditation (the symbol), and the process of meditation become one.
©1994 - 2011 Stephen H. Barrett