Although many teachers would rightfully say that mindfulness and meditation ultimately do not have any goal, let us be honest: the basic aim of these practices is entering the state of Presence. It is a thoughtless state of mind, which we could also call Pure Consciousness or Awareness. Meditation and mindfulness practitioners aspire not only to remain in this state but to deepen and expand it as much as possible.
However, it is not an easy task, especially for beginners. This time we will focus on entering the thoughtless state. Here are a few pieces of advice on how to do this quickly and efficiently.
1, Focus on here and now.
This is the most obvious and very simple way of entering the state of Presence. You have to become aware of yourself, the surroundings, and everything that is happening in you and around you at this moment. Be here. Become aware of the present moment, enter the now. You will dive into the thoughtless state of Pure Consciousness immediately. If any thoughts, emotions, or external events distract you, just return to the here and now.
Focusing on the present moment is the essence of mindfulness practice.
2. Become aware of yourself.
Ask yourself: "Who is watching this?" or "What is watching this?" This is a variation of the practice of self-inquiry, which can ultimately lead you to spiritual liberation, but meanwhile, among many other benefits, it will always anchor you into the present moment. It is thoroughly described here.
3. Verbal interruption.
This is the quickest way of discontinuing the stream of thoughts. Just say swiftly and decisively to yourself: “NOW!” and feel the Now, which consists of the totality of your experience at this moment, here and now, including the feeling of your body, your whole being, and auditory and visual sensing of your environment. Or, for example, say “STOP!” and become aware of stopping every activity, including your thinking process.
Feel free to use any other word or phrase that might work fine for you. For example, “ENOUGH!” “HERE AND NOW,” “SILENCE,” “STILLNESS,” “I AM,” “I EXIST,” “WHERE AM I?” “ATTENTION!” “I DON’T KNOW” …
You may speak these words out loud to yourself, or say them in your head.
4. Dissolving the Temporary I (DTI).
Being one of the basic Reintegration techniques, the DTI is certainly one of the most efficient methods for entering the state of pure consciousness. This method will not only bring you into the thoughtless state for a while, but it'll do a more useful thing - removal of your unwanted mind content (thoughts, emotions, and physical sensations).
5. Conscious breathing.
There are several variations of the mindfulness of breath. In all of them, you should consciously follow the movement of air into your body and out of it, along with any sensations that the movement produces. However, you could focus on other areas of your body.
For example, you might prefer concentrating on the sensation of flowing air, moving in and out of your body in its entirety, however you feel it. Personally, I prefer this variant because it takes me more easily into a state of self-awareness. In this approach, you are trying to be fully conscious of your chest’s motions during inhaling and exhaling, of the whole volume of air going in and out from you, and of the entire feeling of its gentle contact with your inner organs—nostrils, throat, and lungs.
You may also practice breath mindfulness by focusing only on the sensations within your nostrils during inhale and exhale circles. Alternatively, you could orient your attention to the sensation of the air filling and emptying the interior of your lungs.
Try out all these approaches. Use whichever one is most suitable for you and enjoy mindfulness on many occasions—immediately after waking up, during driving, walking, working on the computer, while doing various daily errands, in the midst of emotional bursts, before sleep, or many other situations, at your will. Mindfulness of breath can bring you deep peace in every situation, help you in releasing stress and raise your overall level of consciousness.
6. Become aware of space.
The perception of space or nothingness generates deep peace and tranquility in our being. Some people even call the sensing of space the "shortcut to enlightenment."
Become aware of space (or nothingness) within you, the room you are in, in the background of everything you see. Imagine space extending from you in all directions, infinitely. Sense its vastness. This will quickly bring your mind into the so-called alpha state, in which your brain functions at a lower frequency of neural waves. It is a deeply relaxing, tranquil, and creative state of being, in which you will feel the present moment easily.
 Excerpt from Inner Peace, Outer Success.
Many people have a problem of succumbing to the demands of others repeatedly and are afraid of saying no. They feel that it may hurt the other person and provoke revenge. Or, they are afraid of themselves and their own reactions in a possible conflict.
On the other hand, saying yes to others seems to be ingrained in our nature as an effective evolutionary strategy. It allowed our ancestors to support each other and jointly defend themselves from various threats. Also, a genuine yes to people and circumstances generally is a good thing, which means accepting the present moment as it is.
However, agreeing with all external requests would have been the perfect strategy if all people were genuine and honest. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. Often burdened with heavy negative emotions, many individuals may behave egotistically and even cunningly toward us. If we are always naively open to their demands, they will inevitably hurt us. I am sure you are familiar with that feeling, unfortunately. Many times, all of us were betrayed or hurt unexpectedly, even by our close friends or relatives. Our life experience tells us that we should always be alert and cautious to avoid such unpleasant surprises.
The problem is that we habitually say no out from fear or anger. Also, we say yes frequently from fear or desire. So, the root of our reactions, whether “positive” or “negative” ones, is at least very questionable.
The underlying source of our reactions is our ego. Typically, we don’t respond. We react. That’s a big difference.
Saying No and Saying Yes
Therefore, if we want to learn how to genuinely say no to other people’s demands, we should examine the complementary action – saying yes. Those are the two opposites that are inseparable. Acceptance and denial, submission and refusal, agreement and dissent, yes and no; they are two sides of the coin. They must be taken into consideration together.
Only from the state of Pure Consciousness, we can respond genuinely to every challenge. Pure Consciousness, or Presence, will truly enable us to either accept or refuse the requests of others. On the other hand, if we are burdened by thoughts and emotions, our choices will be clouded and distorted. The genuine decisions are made only from the state of Presence, the thoughtless state of mind.
However, even if we learn to live in the here and now, to be mindful most of the time, we still could react improperly in numerous circumstances. Some persons or occasions may easily kick us out from the state of Presence. Their actions or mere appearance could trigger our previously suppressed emotions such as anger, fear, or sorrow, so our reaction to their requirements will not be genuine. Whether that reaction is submission or refusal, it will not be authentic. In the long run, its consequences will be suffering.
The genuine decisions are made only from the state of Presence, the thoughtless state of mind.
Importance of forgiveness is immense. Whenever we are stuck in the mud of anger, resentment, blame, or guilt, we deeply suffer, as well as people around us. Although these feelings are not negative per se, they are conveyors of some vital messages to our conscious being. If neglected, they will severely undermine our health and overall well-being.
To forgive means to release anger and resentment, lastingly.
So, together with love, forgiveness is the ultimate healing tool on Earth. It liberates us directly from these unpleasant feelings, while, indirectly, it heals many diseases caused by them.
To forgive means to release anger and resentment, lastingly.
Also, it does not involve excusing or condoning the person’s actions. Forgiveness does not deny crime, atrocity, or injustice. However, it clears up our hearts and minds, making the path to justice completely smooth. It brings relief from pain and injury.
Forgiveness does not necessarily lead to reconciliation, nor we have to feel obliged to reconcile with the person we are forgiving. Nevertheless, if we truly forgive the person, some sort of reconciliation with them is likely to spontaneously occur, sooner or later.
True forgiveness cannot be achieved from a lofty, righteous position. This implies feeling superior upon the other person, which could easily turn into disdain. And that would be very dangerous for our spiritual growth.
How to forgive?
Of course, to us ordinary mortals, forgiveness is not easy at all. The feelings that we intend to release are usually deeply rooted and most often for a long time present in our psyche. Anyway, if we want to continue with our personal development and spiritual growth, we must reintegrate these feelings with the rest of our being. Therefore, forgiveness should be done step-by-step, thoroughly, with true dedication and honesty.
“This too shall pass.” - Unknown author
Why should we work on ourselves? What is the ultimate goal of such work?
It’s simple: to achieve permanent happiness. Or at least, to become much happier than our “normal life” offers. Even if our reason is curiosity or spiritual drive for the Truth, that’s again sort of happiness.
One might say that there are so many other methods to become happy, at least for a while. You can be happy by falling in love, exercising, eating, playing football, talking with your best friend, or doing countless other things. But, the emphasis here is on “for a while.” It won’t last long enough. And when such happiness passes away, there comes its opposite – suffering of various kinds. But that’s kind of expected result. Falling in love or eating – that’s not inner work at all.
On the other hand, even the sincerest self-improvement work will bring about some amount of pain into our lives. These difficulties are often unexpected so that we can talk about the side effects of inner work.
What is the inner work in the first place? It is a broad and fuzzy term. Many teachers and practitioners differ significantly on its meaning; however, I will describe it as conscious effort invested into achieving an ultimate spiritual goal or psychological development, on a regular basis.
True inner work must be comprehensive. It should include investing efforts toward spiritual liberation, developing love and presence, fulfilling and harmonizing goals, doing psychological work, and adhering to ethical standards. Otherwise, the achieved happiness won’t last much. Or all achievements will be accompanied by a lot of suffering.
However, even when you think you have covered all these areas with your work, you will still suffer from time to time. That’s inevitable until you reach the final liberation, or Nirvana as Buddhists call it.
Difficulties of Meditation
Some of the approaches mentioned above are in fact paths to Pure Consciousness, or Presence – meditation sittings, mindfulness, self-inquiry…and they all are inevitably accompanied by many unpleasant side-effects.
Whether you are trying to experience Truth through the process of self-inquiry or to empty your mind and live in the here and now through some form of meditation and mindfulness, you will unavoidably encounter many difficulties along that way. You will be uncovering a lot of previously suppressed emotions, long-forgotten decisions, deep-rooted beliefs, traumatic childhood experiences, fears, resentment, or other hidden mind contents. Even if you are simply trying to wake up pure love in your heart, you will also meet various unpleasant reactions from within.
During the meditation and mindfulness work your mind and body purify progressively. But there is a problem. As more and more layers of the subconscious mind are being removed, old, deeper structures that were mentioned above, emerge inevitably. As you are digging ever deeper into the microcosm of your psyche, any of these can be exposed to the light of your consciousness and triggered off unexpectedly.
As more and more layers of the subconscious mind are being removed, old, deeper structures emerge inevitably.
These unconscious structures can appear in diverse ways. They might manifest within your mind or physical body, so you could, for example, become depressed, anxious, over-reactive, or even physically ill. But if you are very stable mentally and fit physically, these long-suppressed subconscious contents will instead emerge in the outside world. You may experience all kinds of troubles, such as sudden accidents, serious disputes with your loved ones, or even attacks by total strangers.
It’s like the stillness within is telling us: OK, you are able to remain calm during your meditation sittings, when you walk, or during your chores. But are you able to maintain your stillness in this situation?
Or: OK, you can feel deep love of these people in those circumstances. But is your love really that well-founded? Can you love this person in this situation?
And you get the challenge to deal with. Only when you become able to deal with them appropriately, such people and circumstances will not appear in your life anymore.
Difficulties of Goal Achievement Work
Generally speaking, work on goals is even trickier than meditation or mindfulness. For a goal or intention to be fully accomplished, it must be:
2) Without much resistance from your other goals and various parts of your personality, and
3) To be “immersed” into the state of Presence or Pure Consciousness before its manifestation.
Therefore, you have to be very careful during any goal achievement work. Almost every goal carries with it a cluster of various desires, negative beliefs, emotions, and decisions, that are in fact obstacles to the goal’s manifestation. Also, there is always some amount of misalignment or disharmony with other important goals that you want to achieve or with many other parts of your personality. This conflict will produce friction and pain.
To attain the goal, most of these subconscious obstacles and all disharmonious tendencies must be removed peacefully, for example through some form of the Reintegration process.
Difficulties of Psychological Work
This is also a wide area. Psychoanalysis, Transpersonal psychology, Personality psychology, Transaction Analysis, NLP, Reintegration System, etc. – all have quite different approaches, but demand a lot of work anyway. Typically, these types of inner work are not about Pure Consciousness, nor achieving goals. They direct you toward the transformation or integration of various parts of your psyche. Still, they may also trigger numerous disturbing side-effects.
During such work, some aspects of personality are changing, realigning, or reconfiguring. There will be a lot of friction among them until a new mutual equilibrium is established. That friction unavoidably generates suffering, which can be expressed in many ways, too.
Any kind of unexpected physical or emotional troubles may appear. All sorts of unpleasant experiences may arise in your external reality, in forms of aggressive people, sad events, dangerous accidents or anything else.
Sometimes we say life is hard, and it would be much better if we were born as a cat, dog or some other animal that does not have problems and worries in its simple life. Still, if we really had that opportunity, very few of us would actually accept it. We admire our minds and appreciate our self-awareness greatly.
But what is self-awareness in the first place?
It is the capacity of an individual to recognize oneself as a separate entity, distinct from the environment and other individuals. While consciousness means to be aware of the environment, self-awareness purports the individual’s ability to fully comprehend their permanent self and the environment.
It is worth noting that some sources make a distinction between the terms self-awareness and self-consciousness, where the latter is defined as the capacity of the individual to see oneself not only as a separate being, as seen from a first-person view, but to understand that other beings are also aware of them. However, self-awareness and self-consciousness are used as synonyms in this article.
While consciousness means to be aware of the environment, self-awareness purports the individual’s ability to fully comprehend their permanent self and the environment.
Number of Living Beings
Think about this: What is the chance of existing as a self-conscious being, among countless other living entities? Can you get an even slightest idea of how many other beings exist in the universe (or maybe multiverse), and how enormous that number is, even compared to 7.2 billion humans currently living on earth?
Animals, plants, bacteria, viruses… they are all conscious to some degree, meaning, aware of their surroundings. And considering the vastness of space of the cosmos, the number of living creatures with some level of consciousness is truly incomprehensible.
Let us see what would be that number for this planet only. According to some estimates, the total number of prokaryotes (e.g., bacteria) on earth is 5 x 1030 (five billion billion trillion), which is 5 followed by 30 zeros. This is just a rough estimate. As the biomass of all other species is by several orders of magnitude smaller, we could assume that this number covers the vast majority of biomass on earth, including oceans.
The number of living creatures with some level of consciousness is truly incomprehensible.
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