I realize today that I use a different mental trick each day to achieve the same goal. Each trick works for a day or two but inevitably becomes an attachment.
For example, on the first two days of meditation I focused on the here and now, being with myself in the moment. This took me to a calm and still place quickly for several consecutive days. But because it worked I began to expect it to work, at which time it promptly quit working.
For the next several days, I used the “just sitting” approach. “Just sitting” was an alternative to focusing on here and now. It was a fresh approach to achieving stillness and silence. Like the technique before it, it got me there for several days. But quickly I came to expect a result – I would try to just sit and expect silence, rather than just sit and expect nothing.
Every method for doing nothing quickly becomes a form of activity and expectation.
I see the difficulty that meditators face when describing their methods: methods are actions! Self is realized through non action! Any technique, strategy, path or approach entails leaving the self to find it. Each of these things implies distance to the self. Don’t go anywhere looking for it; be it. Don’t go, don’t look, don’t seek. Just be.
I have noticed this pattern with any kind of training I have done in my life: expect to work hard – get good results – expect good results – struggle and wonder why – rededicate yourself to the work, not the result – make new gains – expect consistent gains – be disappointed. Expectations are everything. And in meditation, no expectations is key.
Today I am meditating at home. I have noticed that over the past eleven days my meditative posture has improved dramatically. My spine is strait, head balanced, hips locked and comfortable. I set the timer for one hour and push start.
Today I want to focus on something specific. Today I would like to interact with that part that is deeper than me. I would like to connect to the part of me that feels like it is beyond or outside me. I am inspired by the Zen koan about the master who sees his student returning alone from the rice fields. The master calls to the student, “I see that you are hard at work.” The student responds, “Yes sir.” The master replies, “show me the one who is not hard at work.”
I begin by accepting all the energies I’m broadcasting. You don’t deny yourself to go deeper, you accept yourself. Deeper levels of consciousness transcend but include the grosser levels. By letting myself be fully as I am, I observed myself from a deeper perspective. When you resist you act as yourself against yourself; when you accept you act as your greater self aware but unaffected by your smaller self.
When you resist you remain trapped in the ego. When you accept you transcend it.
I say to myself, “This is me being fully here. All I feel here is me. Do I perceive something existing here that feels opposite of me? Now that I fully feel myself, what does not me feel like?” I sit with this for several more minutes and I start to feel it. It comes in split-second flashes.
I experience myself, but I sense a wall or boundary of consciousness that feels like not self. Yet I feel within me the consciousness that lies on the other side of this wall. When I let go of my identity as small or limited self, I am the deeper field. From my small perspective, the field feels impersonal and other. When I assume the perspective of the field the body feels more familiar than it ever has.
For every split second that I merge into this greater field, my body bursts with new life and energy. It is like a million nights of sleep in a microsecond. I can’t imagine staying here; it would be debilitatingly blissful. Every minuscule dip into this consciousness makes my body feel brand new, as if I am re-entering it for the first time.
I am feeling more acutely the distinction between relaxation and release. Relaxation comes from the mind. Release comes from beyond the mind. In release, the body and mind lose the stimulus that causes them to tense; in relaxation, the body and mind loosen around the stimulus. Each dip into this consciousness releases what feels like years of wear and tear. It’s as explosive as a cold plunge.
I spend the whole hour right at the border of my personal consciousness, only dipping my toe into the infinite stillness beyond myself. It requires significant focus and concentration, but I manage to make five to seven immersions. My timer rings and I come out of it feeling better than new.
I rise to leave the room and catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror. My reflection startles me; my eyes are sharp and wide. My visage is brilliant. I can’t stop smiling. I feel like I’d better avoid people until this feeling dims down a bit; people will definitely wonder what’s going on with me. Or perhaps I should walk directly into the most crowded room. I am reminded of Matthew 5:15:
“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.”
This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine.