Part 2: Series Now Presence
Any true method of meditation requires these key ingredients:
1. Vairagya, — impartiality to thoughts, sensations, or emotions.
2. Viveka, — intuitive discrimination of truth over illusion.
3. Acesta, — effortlessness focus.
4. Vimoksa, — persistent letting go, or release.
5. Utsaha, — fortitude and perseverance.
6. Abhyasa, — ongoing or steady practice.
7. Nirodhyama, — a systematic process of transcendence.
Every meditation requires an object of focus that is used to steady one’s in- ward focus. One of the most common is a mantra, but for the beginner, the easiest first step might be breath awareness. This age-old method of transcendental breath awareness is referred to in the East as Apanasati. How often have you heard the advice, “just breathe?” That’s good advice if you need to center or steady your emotions, — it’s even more ideal if you choose to use your breath as the primary object of focus as you transcend beyond the limits of your topical mind to dive deeper toward the quintessential source of your existence, where the “Now” reveals itself as an eternal unbound Presence.
Your meditation should typically begin with making a commitment to stay focused and aware. The kinetic nature of the mind requires some kind of object-oriented hub to keep it constant in its inwardly directed course. Without a hub for focus, the psyche’s ingrained emotions and thought patterns will undoubtedly draw your focus into daydreaming, regretting or appraising past events, future planning, and possibly even sleep. Effortlessly redirecting your focus into favoring and relaxing your breath can serve as that hub. Once your eyes are closed, your breath won’t need to be introduced or remembered, — it’s already doing what it does. But due care should be taken not to exert too much mental control over your breath. Effort- less focus is key, allowing your awareness to remain a light as a feather throughout the meditation process. Begin by calmly watching or feeling your breath, while effortlessly allowing it to soften into an unrestricted ease.
Your feeling heart, thinking mind, and breathing are intimately linked. Your heart acts as your medium for intuitive feeling. Your mind acts as the vessel for your thoughts and emotions, — and it gives you the means to discriminate and deal with them. Your breath always echoes the pace and rhythms of those heart-mind interactions. If one of these three is out of order then the other two reflect that disorder. Experience laughter and your breaths naturally mimic the joyful leaps of your heart. Think sad thoughts and your breath breaks into somber sobs, timed perfectly to your fragmented emotions. Feel fear and your breath might freeze along with your thoughts. The fear could even stop your heart.
Juxtaposed, if you allow your thoughts and feelings to flow by unencumbered, while calmly focusing on your softening breath, your heart and mind will move steadily toward a deepening serenity. This simple process serves as the principle countermeasure, the primary method for redirection and remedy for getting past the mind’s patterned tenacity for distraction.
While most distractions involve preoccupations with the past and future, other distractions will show up as well, some with a promise of pleasure or the threat of pain. Pleasure and pain exert a strong influence on the mind. If you dwell on these distractions, rather than redirecting your focus back to your breath, the meditation will most likely degrade into nothing more than a planning session, a daydream, or a nightmare of distress.
Fortunately, most distracting emotions are easily dealt with, provided they’re not habitually running unseen in the background of your mind. One way that might occur is the effect of an unaware resistance to letting go, or as an underlying preoccupation that urges you to try too hard, — either of which can serve as a roundabout influence that circuitously overrides the process of transcendence. The less resistance you give an emotion, the more intimate you are with it, the easier it is to release. Resisting an emotion only empowers it to push its way back into your awareness. “What you resist persists!” Release is simplest if you don’t give your emotions a voice, or justify, judge, or analyze them. Releasing an emotion requires giving up all resistance to it, after which it conveniently evaporates. Vairagya is essential here. The development of impartiality goes hand in hand with abhyasa, your steady and committed practice.
As you advance, vairagya passes through a natural evolution. It begins as a mental detachment, dispassion, or impartiality toward any thoughts, events, or emotions. And then develops further through the act of viveka, which redirects your focus back to your breathing and effortless letting go, which inevitably deepens into those finer realms that rest beyond the surface parameters of your mind.
Several contemporary yogic schools describe vairagya solely as remaining mentally indifferent to raga, (attachment), or dveśa, (aversion). After all, these are what drive most of our emotions or thoughts. In principal, that kind of indifference is the right direction, but in a more in-depth context this prescription can also miss the point. In reality, vairagya is not entirely at its best until dispassion for one’s attractions and repulsions is no longer feigned. Viveka is discriminative conscious discernment. Because your linear mind can’t experience the sublime nature of your ultimate reality, it also can’t effectively make a pure discriminative choice between what’s ultimately real or not real. The solution to this problem is to marry your finer capacity for listening to the delicate currents of intuitive feeling. The more you hone your intuition, the more it grows into a real inner guidance.
Genuine vairagya emerges when the essential nature of the true “now presence” first reveals itself in glimpses of Samadhi. In Samadhi your breathing ceases and your experience transitions into an unlimited wholeness that can- not be grasped by the thinking mind. But, this level of your awareness is also your most dynamic and real experience of pure consciousness. It may initially appear to grand to manage, but over time, you’ll come to realize that your mind was never meant to manage the high Self, your high Self was meant to rule your mind. The evolution of vairagya transitions from the mind watching the mind, — simple meta-cognitions, into the high Self watching the mind, Supra- cognitions.
Your meditation is ideally supported with a recurrent enquiry; — from where is the observer observing? Feeling into that silent unbound source sets the right ground for culturing the more advanced state of vairasakśin, the authentic Self- witness. When vairasakśin is established, the process of transcendental awareness quickly yields to your more advanced states of “now-presence.”
The overall theme in meditation, nirodhyama, requires you to repeatedly let go of everything that’s spinning in your mind, including your breath awareness. Gradually you learn to favor your breath over your distractions, but as you advance further, you learn to favor the deeper silence that lives between your inhalations and exhalations. Favoring silence through culturing effortless control can seem puzzling in the beginning, even contradictory, particularly if you imagine yourself trying to be effortless. Don’t try, — allow!
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