Meditation is directed toward seeing life as it is. Regular practice can help us to experience directly the fundamental nature of life. It is about developing choice; choice to see and experience all the layers of our personal and universal existence. It is about seeing the fullness. Becoming able to witness the underlying support of the divine along with the beauty and richness of our human form.
Meditation effectively clears the obstacles to our accurate perception of the nature of life. The obstacles are the habitual patterns of perception and response that we explored in the previous article. (See Meditation is Natural). When we are locked into these habitual patterns our vision of life is basically limited to continually viewing our own thoughts and feelings – over and over again. When we become curious about the nature of our perceptions, question whether we can trust them fully, and what is actually going on – we are ready to meditate.
Meditation works because Awareness itself is already clear and Awareness itself is the foundation of the thinking mind. Follow any thought to its source and you find Awareness – Awareness without a thought, just Pure Awareness. Awareness is intelligence itself and nearly infinite potential. The natural movement of this Self-Aware-Intelligence is to express and create. The natural expression of Creative Intelligence through the human mind is to think.
Thinking is the healthy and automatic expression of intelligent and creative life force in our human form. Thinking is the wholesome function of the mind. It would be futile to try to stop the mind from thinking for more than a brief time. As long as we are alive our mind will be churning out thoughts, like our body will be churning out feelings. There is no problem in this! It is part of our design. We do, however, want to be able to put our thoughts into the perspective of their source. This will spontaneously support the most effective and useful action in the world.
Harnessing the Mind’s Inherent Curiosity and Intelligence.
Since the mind is highly intelligent at its source and is always thinking, skillful practice would be to harness the mind’s natural curiosity to experience its own nature. Since the subtle levels of our individual awareness are tinged with the qualities of the subtle nature of who and what we are all made of – sat-chit-ananda – awareness-consciousness-bliss, when we begin to follow any thought or feeling to its source we get closer to experiencing the deep comfort that is always emanating from our core. Bliss is the subtle nature of thought and feeling. Because this level of bliss – ananda – is so comfortable, when we use skillful means in meditation we are naturally drawn in to this deep feeling of comfort.
This is a completely natural and automatic movement of the mind because the mind does seek greater happiness and comfort. When left to its natural function the mind will turn toward what it prefers. Often the mind gets caught on the surface levels of awareness and doesn’t remember its source.
When the body-mind system is tense the mind tends to get caught on the surface. The mind literally ruminates over the stresses and strains of experience. The superficial layers of thought are just not as satisfying, or deeply comfortable, as the deeper layers. And when our mind is restricted to the surface layers of experience, through tension and repetitive thought patterns, it becomes dissatisfied. It’s own intuition tells it that there must be something more than this.
Often the mind needs a little help to start the journey inward and let go of the tension that is holding it on the surface.
INNER GRAVITY OF TRUTH – THE INWARD AND THE OUTWARD STROKES OF MEDITATION
Pure Awareness has an inner gravity – a strong force – that pulls our individual consciousness to it. A good technique will allow us to become swept up in the pull toward the comfortable emanations of Pure Awareness. It is pleasurable. We like it. We release into it and saturate in the healing qualities of clarity, rest, and rejuvenation. Intuitively, we all know this is our source, and yet we often can’t even imagine that it can be touched, experienced, and that it can be expanded into our conscious awareness.
It is actually easy once you know how to do it! It’s easy because it is satisfying… it feels good and it is the natural direction of the evolution of consciousness. All we have to do is get out of our own way! In order to get out of our own way we use skillfully chosen techniques that assist the mind in relaxing for a moment, so that the deeper fields of Pure Being can draw it in. As the mind moves effortlessly inward it enjoys the release and thereby finds it easier to relax. The process continues based on the increased comfort and relaxation and the mind dives deeper. Eventually it forgets itself, even if just for a moment. This process is extremely healing and restful for the entire body-mind-nervous system complex. This is the inward stroke of meditation.
The inward stroke – the diving in through the layers of consciousness to the deepest experiences of comfort and even bliss – creates profound rest in all layers of our being. It has the effect of releasing deep stress from the system. Interestingly, the release of stress causes an upward flowing of the mind, back toward the surface layers, in the form of thinking. In the process of stress releasing, thinking increases. This is the outward stroke of meditation.
Together, the inward and the outward strokes, provide a process of healing that is resonant with all of nature’s healing rhythms. Nature evolves in cycles of rest and activity. We see this in so many areas of life: life and death, day and night, summer and winter, spring and fall. We live by cycles of rest and activity. We sleep every night and we are active during the day. We are born and we are young and we cycle into old age and we die. We inhale…and then we exhale.
Stress that is wound up inside cannot be released without an action. The action is a kind of unwinding of nervous system tension that has wrapped around itself and created a kind of knot. As the knot releases, it is expressed in thought. It can be a single thought, or a long dreamy series of thoughts. Thinking is an integral and important part of meditation! It is the outward stroke, so to speak. It is the result of deep experience and it clears the field of personal consciousness from the very stresses that block our clear vision of life as it is.
It is the nature of intelligence to be clear. It is the nature of your very essence to not be deceived by the convoluted workings of your mind. We sometimes think of the thinking mind as a young child, busy with the task of individuating from its parents and arguing for its separate existence. As the good parent we respect this process of individuation and enjoy it as a natural part of development but also know that the child is not in charge. The parent is the container for the child, keeping it safe. Left to its own devices a young child would have no frame of reference, no container for its development. Children need loving parents. Let the deepest layers of awareness become your container, your frame of reference for all that you perceive.
3 thoughts on “How Meditation Works—Thinking is Not a Problem”
Hey Patty- Great take on meditation. Really. Several new (to me) perspectives on thinking (’tis a good thing), surface and deeper layers, and then the natural rhythms of inward and outward strokes. Genius!
Thank you, Bob. I miss you. Maybe now that I am officially a “freelance” yoga teacher I will make the trek down to your neck of the woods sometime soon!
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