“The greatest healing would be to wake up from what we are not.”
As we have defined, in order to make sense of this world one should first identify the zero-reference point. He must return all his attention to the origin of coordinates: himself. To have control over the vessel, a man must not look upon the vessel, but upon that which it contains. And that is where so many of us fail.
Just for a second, entertain a possibility that your coordinate system has an internal error so tiny and deceivingly negligible, hidden so deep inside that it unnoticeably skewed your whole worldview and distorted your entire perception of the reality. Do you want to know what was that single false conviction, a glitch so inconspicuous, but which now has turned into a humongous problem? Here it is.
“Cogito ergo sum. I think, therefore I am.”
~ René Descartes
The famous philosophical proposition by René Descartes has spoiled billions of minds converting even the brightest of them into misguided worshippers of thought. We have been fundamentally deceived to believe that thinking is the very quintessence of our existence and that elaborate deception was executed by nothing other than our mind itself.
We used to believe that thought is inherent, elemental, and inescapable, and hence cannot be stopped. Even those who have excelled in introspection failed to conclude otherwise. Thus, Jean-Paul Sartre writes in “Nausea”: “My thought is me: that’s why I cannot stop. I exist because I think. And I cannot stop myself from thinking.”
So, what is common between René Descartes and Jean-Paul Sartre? Clearly, both have never practiced meditations.
It is a fallacy to believe that cessation of the thinking mind is impossible.
You CAN stop thinking.
With respect and in defense of both philosophers, arriving at wrong conclusions wasn’t their fault. Both of them fell victim to tenacious illusions of the conceptual mind. That is why it is important that we do not blindly follow the teachings of the past, but rather pursue our own path to understanding the true nature of our mind. Luckily for us, a tool of the breaking free from our ignorance is much closer than we think.
My story. A discovery that shattered my world.
I started practicing meditations in summer 2013 soon after I passed Sparta. Following my coach on social media, I watched all his videos in which he emphasized the importance of meditation in his morning routine.
At that time, I knew next to nothing about meditation. So same as for many people I had a certain preconception of meditation, thinking of it more as a religious ritual. Nonetheless, I was full of determination to find out what the whole meditation thing was about. So, I started to practice.
I still remember my first day of meditation. Almaty, Kazakhstan, July of 2013. I and my friends decided to meet at our usual place we called “the bridge”: a charming pond, located on the way to Almaty mountains. I intentionally arrived earlier to stay alone and meditate. I sat down on a wooden deck near the pond, set up the timer on my phone for 5 minutes, and closed my eyes. I had no idea what I was doing. I just tried to relax.
God, that seemed like forever! I couldn’t resist the temptation to peek a couple of times at the timer through my half-closed eyes. The signal just wouldn’t go off.
My friends arrived finding me sitting on the floor with my eyes closed and laughed at me. I was laughing at myself too. I might have looked like a fool sitting with a proud face like some sort of Zen Buddhist pretending to be calm and focused but still trying to sneak a look at the timer. That was the lesson of meditation ‘numero uno’.
Lesson #1. At first, you’ll fail. And that’s ok.
When I first started practicing meditation, my mind was, to put it mildly, an “insane ape running toward the cliff”. Insomnia was an old friend. Every night my thoughts would charge at me like a swarm of wasps relentlessly buzzing in my head and stinging me hungry for attention.
I suspected that it was abnormal, but I wasn’t fully certain as I had nothing to compare with. The disturbed state of mind was the only state of mind I ever had. Little did I know that my new habit would expose the true extent of my insanity.
But at that time, I was still a novice. I was still cleaning up the remainders of my alcohol addiction. Alcohol didn’t control me anymore but I still indulged sometimes. In the process of my withdrawal, I learned my second lesson.
Lesson #2. Intoxicants decrease your mindfulness and increase your anxiety.
The mindfulness that you develop through meditation helps to observe, control, and fight all essentially neurotic behaviors such as overeating, chronic masturbation, and substance abuse. It is perfectly obvious, that the impulse to give in to pernicious cravings can only be suppressed when such impulse is detected. Overcoming weakness requires a high degree of self-awareness, and that in turn requires purity of mind. Clearly, toxicant substances in any dose or form act as catalysts for the disturbance of the mind. If a man aspires to come to peace with himself, abstinence is absolutely instrumental.
Lesson #3. Choose what works for you.
Essentially, meditation is a practice of concentrating attention. The very nature of our attention requires the existence of a focal point. My choice was the simplest meditation there is — concentration on breathing. This type of meditation has many names. It’s called Anapanasati in Indian tradition, Osho called it vipassana meditation, and Zen Buddhists call it zazen.
In short, it is a practice of witnessing the process of breathing. You must concentrate your attention on the physical sensations: the tingle in nostrils, the feeling of how the air fills your lungs, how your chest rises and the diaphragm contracts. Breath meditation is so simple yet so effective because of the way we breathe. Our breath is subtle: it can be easily controlled or left to function on autopilot. In addition, probably the most important advantage of this type of meditation is that after some time you develop a habit of returning part of your attention to your breath even while you are engaged in work or daily activities. This transforms everything you do into a meditative practice.
Meditation on the breath is only one of many ways to achieve the cessation of thought. Some people find that other meditation methods are more effective, for example, mantra meditation, meditating on sound or meditating on the flame of a candle. It is worth trying a few to see what works best for you. The goal is one and only: to stay focused.
Lesson #4. Persevere.
“Gutta cavat lapidem. A water drop hollows a stone.”
In the beginning, the problem with meditation was that I had no clue as to where my practice should eventually bring me. I read about meditation, I watched lectures about meditation, I practiced it religiously every morning, yet I couldn’t get rid of the feeling of an inner barrier that I sensed inside. It felt as if there was some invisible wall inside me and that wall couldn’t be bypassed. I remember all my vain attempts to reach the quiet, it felt like they were waves crashing over a cliff. I knocked and there was no answer. But I carried on.
I was a robot. I rented out myself to the practice. Meditating was like wandering in a dark corridor holding a thread in your hand and following it without knowing what was waiting for you on the other end. However, I felt that something was waiting so there was no other alternative but to commit until I find out what was it.
At first, I was practicing with the timer gradually increasing the time of meditation: 10 minutes, 15 minutes, 20 minutes. At some point, I replaced the timer with a stopwatch. I wanted to see how long I could stay tranquil. I hit a plateau at about 25 minutes — my legs were getting numb.
I quit eating meat. I exercised. I tried to push the length of my meditation to the maximum. Eventually, I was able to sit still for 1 hour straight coping with the discomfort, embracing it, observing the smallest itches and impulses to move my body or scratch my face. It was somewhere near the end of my second year of practice that my normal daily meditation averaged 30 minutes. And then one day it happened.
I stopped thinking.
I achieved the thoughtless state: the complete cessation of conceptual mind. There were no thoughts yet some other “I” was still there: my inner awareness, the “I — observer”.
Almost in the same instant a flash-like thought pierced my brain: “Oh my god! I am not thinking!” and, of course, at that very moment, I was thinking again. The meditative state had slipped away. Thoughts rushed back into the short-lived emptiness that I wasn’t yet able to hold. But I was smiling. I grasped it. Several seconds of complete silence of the mind. The serenity had faded but that short pause between the thoughts, those several seconds of nothingness were enough to recognize the unreality of “I-thought”. Now, the new questions have appeared.
Who was that “I” who was still staring in the empty space when the thoughts were silenced?
Who was that “I” who was the empty space itself?
Lesson #5. You are not your thoughts.
I woke up the next morning and I felt it: nothing was the same. Something had irreversibly changed. I couldn’t put it into words. It was in my body and it was in the air. It felt like that invisible wall I was fighting against the past two years had finally cracked. Some invisible mechanisms inside of me were set in motion preparing slowly for a massive demolition.
I took a shower, put on clean clothes, and went outside. It was a splendid sunny spring morning. The trees near the entrance of my student dorm were blooming and birds were chirping their careless song. I walked several steps from the entrance when suddenly I felt an impulse to stop. I closed my eyes and felt the sunshine gliding on the surface of my skin. I couldn’t help but smile — a feeling of infinite grace and gratitude for my existence had risen from the depth of me. An amusing thought occurred to me. I thought: “Here. This is God watching me.”
And then it hit me. A fall. In an instant, I have dissolved in the present moment. The perception of my physical body became so abstract I could barely feel it. It almost felt like it was an inanimate object that exists separately from me.
I lost my self-concept. All labels became irrelevant. There was nothing I could identify myself with. I was not even a man or a woman — just a pure thoughtless consciousness floating in the mixture of sensations, smells, and sounds. Emptiness and infinite bliss.
An immense and growing in strength feeling inside came out of nowhere. It was like nothing I have ever felt before — an overwhelming sense of indescribable breathtaking beauty. It fell upon me like a tsunami and hit me right into the heart.
I burst into tears. I was standing outside, with my eyes closed and face turned toward the sun, I was smiling and the tears were running down my face. There was no time, no thoughts about who I am, no worries about the people who might have seen and judged me, no memories of the past, no worries about the future. There was no “me”. And yet I was there — a condensed experience of something extraordinary: a pure awareness.
I don’t know how much time I had spent like that, maybe 10–15 minutes. The feeling started to fade away. It was still there but it was much less intense. The wave of God’s grace began to ebb.
I opened my eyes and I looked at the nature around me. I was stunned by the looks of it as if I was seeing it for the first time. I walked around the campus touching the trees and flower petals beaming from ear to ear. I kept asking myself what had I done to deserve to witness such beauty? I wanted to sing and dance, but even more than that, I wanted to shake people screaming at them to wake up and see. For the first time since my childhood, I was truly happy.
And in all of this, the most beautiful thing was that I was able to see my thoughts. The distinction was clear. There was the “I” who was doing the thinking, but there was also a new-born, powerful “I” who was closely watching the former: the Inner Observer.
My persistence was finally rewarded. I conceived the true nature of my mind.
I am not my thoughts.
This is the most important meditation lesson of all: an insight second to none, a true epiphany. The fascination of this discovery has never left me. I have continued to examine my mind and came to the conclusion that meditative techniques are the best tools to overcome the duality of a human mind, a mind which like a coin has two sides.
First is the “I — thought”: “the ego”, “the self”, “the self-centered being”. The ego is a thought-based entity. That’s the one whose voice you hear in your head. It is the ego that is responsible for the inner chatter and negative self-talk. It is the ego that is giving assessments and opinions, constantly looking for opportunities to analyze and criticize. The ego is the compound image of self — the self-concept, the vision of who you are.
Second is the “I — observer”. That is the “I” that is referred to in this book as the True Nature. This “I” remains immovable and unchanging regardless of the fluctuations of the false ego. It exists beyond labels and definitions of the thinking mind. When the Inner Observer rises it exposes the unreality of the thoughts that comprise the ego and by doing that dispels them. The Inner Observer is not as condensed as the “I-thought”. It is more like a boundless space in which the thoughts and their witnessing take place. You are a sky and your thoughts are clouds that run through it.
I understand that all of this may sound very confusing but there is no real way of giving a comprehensive explanation of what a thoughtless state is through the use of verbal communication. We use words to communicate our thoughts, so words essentially are thoughts wrapped in the sound form. One cannot conceive the notion of the absence of thought by using the tools of thought.
Your True Nature lies beyond the realm of conceptual. That what is hidden behind the curtains of a thinking mind can’t be acquired in the same way as we acquire factual knowledge. An insight into who you truly are can only be attained in a form of experience. It is an experiential confirmation.
Although it is impossible to explain what it feels like to be in a thoughtless state, there is a way to have a glimpse of it. You can trick your brain into getting in the state of complete presence.
This can be easily demonstrated by a simple quick reaction game. Take two friends and put a small object, for example, a dice, between them on a table. Ask them to sit and focus their attention on it. The objective of the game is to grab the dice faster than your opponent on the count of three.
You start counting slowly: “One… Two…”, and then you take a long pause. That is the moment when the brain gets hacked. For a very short moment, the minds of your friends transform into pure awareness. They are focused, they are fully present, the sharpness of their attention is at its maximum. At that very moment, your friends do not think. They enter the thoughtless state.
Eventually, not being able to sustain the tension any longer, one of them will snap: “So where the hell is three?!”. This is when you can explain to them the plan behind your little experiment.
Lesson #6. Embrace your new identity.
“The one who follows the thought is also a thought. The one who follows the thought IS in thought. When you know that both are thoughts, you are home. You are not AT home, you ARE home. Then allow thoughts to be followed. You remain as that unmoved and unconcerned being. This is the highest understanding.”
~ H.W.L. Poonja.
As the days went by, I began to learn how to stop my thoughts at will. I soon found out that the thoughtless state can be easily summoned by simply becoming aware of your breath. I started to notice that recalling my attention to breathing became more efficient and frequent. I was increasingly more self-aware even when both my body and mind were preoccupied with other matters.
Keeping a consistent meditation practice helps you to find and develop an “inner core”. It serves as some sort of anchor that holds you to the remembrance of who you truly are fighting off the distractions of thought. Once you learn how to return to your center of calm nothing can knock you off course.
I noticed that meditation caused a shift in my personality: my temperament had changed. A turbulent choleric, I was trapped in the chaos of my own mind, however, with time meditative practice slowly turned me into an assertive sanguine. I became less reactive, less anxious, and insusceptible to other people’s opinions. Complete indifference toward the things that are out of my circle of control became my new code of conduct.
But the most important thing of all was that I began to feel that the demolition of my ego was finally set in motion.
Lesson #7. Burn what you are not.
The ego is strong and tenacious. Complete eradication of an egoic behavior is a challenging task. As a matter of fact, for most of us, it is a life-long journey. However, very few people choose to bear such responsibility — taming the ego requires discipline, concentration, and patience.
I struggle to tame my ego. Not a day passes without me slipping off into unaware thinking. It is so easy to get possessed by the illusions of the thinking mind but what is more discouraging is that the moment you lose focus the egoic behavior grows like an avalanche sweeping your awareness away.
When you start to classify and put yourself in categories, when you start to define, criticize, or analyze yourself, you merge with the egoic mind. You become your thoughts. You become what you are not.
So how can we suppress the ego-mind? There are several self-reflections that we can exercise, or I should rather say, several truths we must all embrace.
You will die.
Everyone will die.
Nothing really matters.
Nothing is really important.
Walk outside. Stand in the middle of the crowded street and close your eyes. Listen. Dissolve in the surrounding noise. Just think, what would change in the world if you disappeared at that very moment? Would the earth stop revolving? What would seize to exist without you being present on this planet? Undoubtedly, those who love you will mourn your passing but their sorrow won’t last forever. For them, life will go on. The time is eternal. You are not. Regardless of the fame, money, and status you possess, you are unimportant.
I have a personal reminder that I love: a scene from the “Doctor Strange”. In that scene, the Ancient One dies. Before she passes, she delivers her last message to the wizard: “You have such a capacity for goodness. You always excelled. But not because you craved success but because of your fear of failure.”
“That’s what made me a great doctor,” Strange smiles.
Ancient One counters: “It’s precisely what kept you from greatness. Arrogance and fear still keep you from learning the simplest and most significant lesson of all.”
Strange is perplexed: “Which is?”
“It’s not about you.”
I keep replaying this phrase in my mind: it’s not about me. We were sent to this planet for a purpose, and that purpose is to make this world a better place. Living our lives serving all living beings through dedication and self-denial — that is the only way we are able to redeem ourselves.
We are fools. Our eyes can see a tiny fraction of the electromagnetic spectra that we call visible light. Our ears can’t hear ultra-low and ultra-high frequencies. We know nothing about who we are, where we came from, how our brains work, and what causes the phenomenon of consciousness. We don’t know why we dream, why we love, and what waits for us after we step into death if anything waits for us there at all. We can’t understand the nature of matter, anti-matter and dark energy. We didn’t even come close to understanding how our own bodies work.
We thump our chests claiming that we are the crown of universal creation but we are just fools milling about the microscopic blue sphere that drifts into nowhere in a vast and infinite space. I believe Percy Bysshe Shelley said it best: “The more we study, the more we discover our ignorance.”
To see my ignorance — that’s what I want. Every morning I sit down, I close my eyes, and I stare into the darkness behind my eyeballs looking for the answers. I have been doing this long enough to realize: we know nothing about our own souls too. But there is something that gives me hope. I can see that our insanity is not incurable. The more I gaze into my own internal abyss, the more I am able to make sense of the world around me.
Most of us live in a daydream. We thoughtlessly execute preinstalled programs constantly fearing to take a pause and admit how agitated we are. We have created labels, stuck them proudly on our foreheads, and convinced ourselves that those labels define who we are.
- I am a man/woman/transgender/homosexual …
- I am Russian/American/Indian/Korean …
- I am a Professor/CEO/doctor/engineer/teacher/soldier …
- I am a husband/wife/parent/son/daughter/sister/brother …
- I am a Christian/Muslim/Buddhist/Agnostic/Atheist …
- I am a conservative/liberalist/monarchist/anarchist …
The list goes on and on. Trying to squeeze human spirit into a classification — what is this if not insanity?
Our true self and the things we used to identify with have nothing in common. It is the concept of self that we carry through our life, the false ego, that is built up from the myriads of self-imposed mental constructions. Do not get blinded by them. You are not what you think. You are not the label.
Here is a simple fact that tends to evade our sight: a boy who grew up with wolves grew to believe that he is a wolf. His concept of self didn’t reflect what he was in his essence. Neither does what we think of ourselves reflect ours. Thinking might be a natural way of gaining self-identification but identifying yourself with thoughts will always be nothing but going against our nature.
Recalling the quote by Oscar Wilde from “The Portrait of Dorian Gray”: “To define is to limit.” I read the book several times but the true meaning behind these words was hidden from me until I learned how to meditate. It was meditation that finally revealed what it feels like to not be restrained by the conditioning of the thinking mind. It showed me that that inner longing for the unknown freedom can be satisfied.
There is a prayer that I want to share with you. I learned it from guru Mooji. It’s very simple.
God, help me to burn what I am not.
Pray with me. Pray for strength to incinerate mental garbage that was drilled into our minds at an early age when we had no control over their organization. The concepts of who we are, who we aspire to become, and what this world is — every element of the ego that is redundant or potentially harmful must be thrown into the flames of meditation. And in the ashes of the dying ego, we will discover the truth so simple yet so profound that it can become the major driving force behind the much-needed spiritual evolution of humankind. Here is that truth.
Lesson #8. We are One.
Discipline, consistency, and purposefulness on the path will eventually get you through the thicket of all mental constructions bringing you to the very center of your essence. Once you rid of the distractions of the false ego you will witness that there is nothing left. Or perhaps it is better to say that what is left is Nothingness. What remains is infinite consciousness pure of interference of thought: The Oneness.
That is the ultimate truth that has the power to unite humanity: once we rise above the realm of thinking, we become identical. Remove the ego in each one of us and you won’t be able to tell the difference — we are the same spirit and soul. But there is something more, we are not just the same.
We are One.
That what has no name is eternal, omnipresent, and all-pervading. It is within all living things and it is what connects us all. A conscious emptiness indefinite and unbounded, inside which the concepts of self, time and space are irrelevant — this is what we are and this is what we share in common: our true origin — The Primary Source. Since we already have a designated word to describe it, then shall we all agree to stick to it? Let’s call it ‘God’.
We are home to the divine that dwells in each and every one of us yet we lose sight of it. We fail to live with the knowledge that we are more than separated human beings. Like snowflakes, we might be uniquely shaped but we all are made from the same water.
Our differences and controversies exist in the plain of thoughts. It makes it clear that the path to unity and understanding lies in not putting our differences aside but in seeing their unreality. We must come to accept that in order to dispel the illusion of the conceptual mind, we must first gain the ability to detect it. Seeing what is not the Seer — that is the freedom.
Every one of us has the power to awaken to the Oneness within. The only question is: “What are you willing to do to set yourself free?”
Lesson #9. The Enlightenment is not the goal.
Do not fall into the trap of thinking that a tangible result from meditation can be achieved fast. Self-proclaimed guru that promise express enlightenment are all charlatans. There is no shortcut to an awakening experience. As a matter of fact, there is no easy way to get anything worth getting. The shortcut is the longcut.
Commitment to meditation is hard but that is the price you pay for the ability to see through the illusion. You’ve got to earn it. You’ve got to prove that you have willpower and determination to get to the heart of the truth and harness it. Dive deep into the rabbit hole but most importantly dive consistently.
Guru Osho wrote that if a man succeeds to keep his mind silent for forty-eight minutes straight, he will reach the Enlightenment entering the state of absolute bliss. While the idea of achieving the level of consciousness of an enlightened master sounds nice, the practice of meditation is not about focusing on enlightenment. It is about the journey of becoming a person who is worthy of being enlightened. It is about the process. The process is the goal.
The purpose of meditation is not to arrive at a certain point of spiritual development. The purpose of meditation is the discipline you must develop to attain and preserve the qualities of an awakened being: mindfulness, concentration, wisdom. Commit to practice to gain mastery over your mind and in order to have a strong grip on the ultimate truth: you are not your thoughts.
Lesson #10. Stay humble.
“If you want to awaken all of humanity, awaken all of yourself.”
~ Lao Tzu
No matter how advanced and knowledgeable we are in matters of the spirit, it is best that we keep humbling ourselves. The best way to do it is to never lose sight of the persons before whom we must bow in reverence and worship. We call those persons ‘gurus’.
The word ‘guru’ from Sanskrit means: “the one who removes darkness”. Obviously, the word ‘darkness’ means ignorance. A ‘guru’ then, is a person who steers you in the right direction so that you develop an ability to dispel ignorance. With that definition it becomes clear that a guru is not someone who brings the light — the light is already within. What a guru does is pinpoint your attention to the unreality of the “I-thought” whose mind traps are so hardly evaded. Pride turns out to be one of the most dangerous of such traps.
I know it from personal experience, small advancements on the path make you feel like you know something. Your early successes give you a sense of achievement, and that in turn evokes the growth in confidence. You feel certain about the validity of your personal insights because your spirit sends you a confirmation that your ego has started to crumble.
The confidence can indeed be an indicator of spiritual maturation but the arrogance will not be there. Mooji, the guru I look up to, said it best while putting one of his students in place:
“Now you feel you are sitting on the mountaintop of your own being, but you are sitting on a mat made of banana skin. Be careful. You will sneeze and you will be right down the bottom of this hill.”
Indeed, progress in your personal evolution is a hidden danger on the path as the developing spirituality itself becomes that mossy, dark corner in which the ego unnoticeably crawls in and strikes roots. It is crucial that we continue to scrutinize our newly developed self-assurance especially when it comes to competence in spiritual matters. We must stay humble in the shade of our guru surrendering to his wisdom, allowing him to expose the areas of the mind in which the ego remains alive.
The purpose of a guru is to set you free from your egoic conditioning and he does it selflessly. You can’t repay your guru. There is nothing an awakened being wants from you in return. The very least you can do is to learn and learn humbly. The one who offers you the path to freedom deserves nothing less than your undying gratitude.
A famous zen koan says: “If you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him.” That is the last meditation lesson and that is the lesson I myself struggle to follow. I had an awakening experience but the ego is still there. I believe inside every man there is a constant and ongoing war between the darkness and the light — the ignorance and the awareness. And that what makes the awakening to our true nature so imperative. We must kill our own ignorance, or die trying. Life in darkness is not life at all.
Tips on Meditation.
Here are some things that I learned during the process. Hope they’ll be of help.
#1. Skipping meditation is ok.
Regular practice is important but there will be days when for some reason or another you won’t be able to meditate. Sometimes it will be a hectic schedule, sometimes you just won’t feel like it. It’s fine. Don’t blame yourself for the lack of consistency. Return to practice and carry on. As long as your peace of mind remains a priority, there is nothing to be afraid of. Bear in mind the importance of the momentum. Continue the journey.
#2. Don’t fight the urge to move.
While meditating, you will feel the impulses to move, scratch your face, change sitting position, stretch your numb legs. Don’t fight it. Move. But move non-mechanically. Stay aware of the motion. Process it. If you can resist, stay still. Try not to indulge in the impulse but rather observe its nature. The observation itself will dissipate it.
#3. Don’t meditate when you are hungry.
Hunger is a distraction. Your mind has plenty of those so there is no need to further disturb it with thoughts about food. Eat something light and eat just enough to kill the growl in your stomach. Fruits will do the job. On the flip side, do not overeat — it will make you sleepy.
#4. Quit meat.
We touched on this matter in the chapter about Health. The major reason why I advocate for a meatless diet is that meat “grounds” you. Its consumption builds up feelings of fear and anxiety and they, in turn, promote so undesirable agitation of the mind. I have no scientific proof to substantiate my argument as there is no way to prove a correlation between a diet and spiritual comfort. All you have to do is to rely on experimentation, personal experience and attentive listening of your soul.
#5. Make yourself comfortable.
The stereotype that meditation must be performed only in a cross-legged lotus position is completely false. If you don’t possess the required flexibility, uncomfortable seating will only distract you. However, it is a good practice if your hands touch each other. By connecting them you are sort of encircling the energy within the body.
Avoid lying down. Your body will relax and you might fall asleep. There is nothing bad about falling asleep while meditating but that is not the objective of mindfulness meditation. Sit on a mat with your back leaning against the wall, put a soft pillow behind. Sit in a relaxed upright posture and don’t obsess about it. Breathe.
While breathing, move your attention through 4 focus points: the inhale, the point between the inhale and exhale, the exhale, and the point between the exhale and inhale. Be patient. Concentrate on the sense of inner depth. Give it time to grow in force. Watching becomes observing, observing becomes witnessing, witnessing becomes seeing. Remember, “when you own your breath, nobody can steal your peace.”
#7. Detach yourself.
When you lose your focus sinking into thinking, don’t blame yourself. Relax and just return your attention to your focal point. When a thought flies through your mind refrain from capturing and inspecting it. Try not to create a relationship with thoughts. Do not invest in them. Let them flow. Clouds fleet, the sky remains still. Or as Mooji says: “The scenes keep changing, but the seer remains unchanged.”
#8. Find the hacks that work for you.
As you advance, you can explore more challenging meditative techniques. For example, you can introduce an additional focal point — try to witness both the breath and the heartbeat or the breath and a touch sensation between two fingers. A need to divide your attention between two focal points will leave no openings for a thought to sneak in, and that is the object of the technique. Keep experimenting and find your own methods to amplify the depth of your meditative state.
“You take the blue pill — the story ends. You wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill — you stay in Wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes.”
~ Morpheus, “Matrix” (1999).
Remember the scene from the “Matrix” where Morpheus gives Neo a choice? It still fascinates me. This movie was far ahead of its time. It remains a powerful metaphor for the crisis we all face.
The illusion of the thought — that is our “matrix”. We are entrapped in the never-ending maze of the thinking mind: at times our thoughts race so fast and become so overwhelming that it seems as if there is no cure for our insanity. Luckily for us, freedom is real and it is within our reach. The red pill for disillusionment does exist: it is meditation.
Unfortunately, facing the illusion of thought is inevitable — after all, we all have to rely on cognition to live and operate in this world. Thus, we must conclude that there is nothing wrong with being inside the illusion — we can allow ourselves experience it as long as we do not let it absorb us forcing us out of remembering who we truly are. We can all agree to play the game as long as we are aware that this is all just a game. The illusion has control over you only when you believe in its reality.
Set out on a path of gaining an ability to see through the illusion. Whatever unresolved problems you have in your life, be they with your soul, with your mind, or with others, meditation is the single most important practice that will help you to restore your peace by transforming you into a person who is capable of seeing things as they are. The obstacle is real but “the problem” is just a label produced by the thinking mind.
Rumi once wrote: “I have lived on the lip of insanity, wanting to know reasons, knocking on a door. It opens. I’ve been knocking from the inside.” How accurately and precisely he worded the incredible insight of those who went through the same turmoil of spiritual search and eventually arrived at the same conclusions. And so did I. What I learned through the practice changed me forever.
By all means, I don’t know what’s an awakening, let alone enlightenment, but what I am absolutely confident about is that perseverance is a prerequisite for the insight. Trust the path, commit yourself, and eventually, a great change will come over your life. Keep knocking.
If you could take away only one idea from this book then let it be this one:
Go and see for yourself how deep the rabbit hole goes.
With that, I leave this section. Hang on, this book will soon come to an end.
Thank you for reading my book “Meditations of the Millennial”.
If you want to support me on my mission, please, share this book with someone you love. Maybe they will find what they seek on its pages.