We all need a little peace, stillness, and balance to get us through life.
Sadly, this doesn’t jive with the social mold we’re supposed to fit into. We’re supposed to be good workers who value productivity above all else. This makes us incessantly tired, stressed, and anxious as we try to get through each day.
We have no time for rest, but deep down, most of us want nothing more than to stop and relax. We’d be happy to take a break even for just a day.
Most of us can’t, but we can all retreat into a calm inner space – one in which our thoughts, fears, and stresses fade away – whenever we want.
Meditation can be our vacation from everything in life that drains us. We can’t pin it down to any specific practice; there are so many forms that it’s best to find one that works for you.
Whether traditional or new and radical, a meditation practice will leave you feeling like life doesn’t have to be so harsh.
The aim of any given practice is to bring you out of this limited sense of reality we all exist under. By necessity, this involves a crumbling (or at least a serious questioning) of most of the things that make you who you are.
It’s a destructive experience necessary for healing.
Since my knowledge is finite, I turn to spiritual teachers for insight on meditation and consciousness. Their years and sometimes decades of experience lets them paint a far more detailed picture of a practice most of us don’t understand.
Below, I’ve compiled some research and quotes from various teachers on meditation, an open mind, the third eye, and similar topics.
The Deepest Layers
First, Jiddu Krishnamurti writes that meditation breaks down your sense of identity. (1)
According to him, rather than accept what the practice provides on a superficial level, we should extend our awareness to the deepest “layers of consciousness”. (2)
Shankara tells us that meditation, not logic, gives us spiritual insight:
“Logic cannot discover You, Lord, but the yogis Know you in meditation.” (3)
The deeper we journey into the self, the more insight we receive. This will be a common theme throughout this article.
Most spiritual teachers emphasize that no matter how impressive that first meditation might be, there’s much more to be found in the deepest layers.
Calming the Untamed Mind
Plenty of people attempt meditation only to find that they can’t empty the mind. The stream of thought, which almost never ceases, makes it too difficult. According to Ramana Maharshi, this happens for a reason.
He tells us that these overwhelming thoughts are a result of meditation revealing all that has been hidden within. They arise to be “extinguished” (meaning their influence over you dissipates), which strengthens the meditative mind. (4)
He offers advice for calming an untamed mind during meditation: cultivate self-knowledge (which means to find the source of your thoughts so you can quiet them) or surrender all attempts at being in control. (5)
Instead of trying to let go of your thoughts, cease all focus and let them leave as quickly as they enter. (5)
Reaching the Gems
Sri Ramakishna tells us it is essential to be “absorbed in God” during meditation. (6)
If you don’t prefer such heavy religious language, my interpretation is that we should be deeply absorbed in silence. Silence is the bridge to the higher power many call God.
Regarding how deep we should go, Sri Ramakrishna makes an interesting point:
“By merely floating on the surface of the water, can you reach the gems lying at the bottom of the sea?” (6)
This supports the idea that the purpose of meditation is to get you away from the sense of identity that holds your world in place. Once free, you can (and apparently should) travel deep into your subconscious.
According to Sri Ramakrishna, getting away from the world and meditating in solitude is necessary to gain the “knowledge, dispassion, and devotion” the practice provides. He recommends meditating in a quiet place undistracted by the external world or the mind’s impulses. (7)
The Breath and the Third Eye
Paramahansa Yogananda tells us that in meditation, focusing on the area between the eyebrows will give us answers to “all the religious queries of the heart”. (8)
In this quote, he mentions a “divine eye” which serves as a gateway into “omnipresence”:
“Through the divine eye in the forehead (east), the yogi sails his consciousness into omnipresence, hearing the Word or Aum, divine sound of ‘many waters’: the vibrations of light that constitute the sole reality of creation.” (9)
Ibn-Arabi recommends paying attention to your breathing during meditation:
“The people of perfection are they who, paying attention to their breathing, become like guardians to the Treasury of their hearts.” (10)
I’d imagine some practices focus on the third eye and the breath together. Although it’s only one of seven chakras, the third eye is perhaps the most well known. It’s certainly worthy of focus. The same can be said about our breathing.
Monitoring one’s breathing is a core part of many practices. It gets you away from your stream of thought and helps you venture deeper into that source of wisdom your thoughts distract you from.
It’s easy to focus on the third eye and the breath in meditation. You’re likely to feel your third eye as a sense of pressure in your forehead, and focusing on your breath is as easy as, well, breathing.
These small tweaks to your practice will make a noticeable difference.
Adyashanti on “True Meditation”
Spiritual teacher Adyashanti describes “true meditation” not as a practice or technique, but as something that happens organically. The techniques, he writes, are intended to get you into an elevated frame of mind. (11)
This stands in contrast to the true goal of meditation. (11)
He writes that meditation in its purest form is spontaneous. It occurs when we remove our awareness from all external goals and objects, which is a slow process. (11)
It’s common for beginners to focus only on a certain object in meditation, such as their thoughts or any noises around them. (11)
This is due to the mind’s conditioning, Adyashanti writes. The mind is compelled to focus on and interpret these objects in what he describes as a “mechanical” way. (11)
Rather than letting our thoughts or sensations exist as they are, the mind interprets them based on how it has been conditioned. (11)
True meditation, he writes, is not to be aware of or interpret any object but to exist as pure awareness. This “primordial awareness” is at the heart of all external objects. (11)
Relaxing and ceasing to focus on them will slowly remove the mind’s attachment to them, with silence taking their place. (11)
When we’re open to silence and stillness with no agenda, he writes, we’ll realize they are our natural state of being. (11)
Meditation in the Bible
It’s unsurprising that the Bible, like many other religious texts, mentions meditation. Here are just a few verses that allude to it:
Blessed is the man [whose] delight is in the law of the Lord; and on his law doth he meditate day and night. – Psalm 1:1-2.
Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer. – Psalm 19:14.
He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress; my God, in him will I trust. – Psalm 91:1-2.
These verses demonstrate the Bible’s stance that meditation provides us with a sacred space in which we are one with God. As other verses suggest, this sacred space or “kingdom of heaven” is within.
The Healing Power
The goal of meditation is to cultivate a quiet inner state free from the constant stream of thought and open to wisdom from a higher power.
We might disagree on what that power is, as some believe it’s an enlightened higher self, some say it’s a spiritual guide, and others think it’s the intuition.
Whatever it is, it has an undeniable healing power. It’s helping me and many others navigate this world with patience and a newfound love for life.
Anyone can experience this; it just takes some time spent finding wisdom in the silence.
- Krishnamurti,Commentaries on Living. Second Series. Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1967; c1958, 166.
- Krishnamurti, Commentaries on Living. First Series. Bombay, etc.: B.I. Publications, 1972; c1974, 31.
- Swami Prabhavananda and Christopher lsherwood, Shankara’s Crest-Jewel of Discrimination. Hollywood: Vedanta Press, 1975; c1947, i.
- Sri Ramana Maharshi. Maharshi’s Gospel. Books I and II. Being Answers of Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi to Questions Put to Him by Devotees. Tiruvannamalai: Sri Ramanasramam,1979; c1939, 20.
- Ibid., 22.
- Swami Nikhilananda, trans., The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna. New York: Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Center, 1978; c1942, 124.
- Ibid., 128.
- Paramahansa Yogananda, The Second Coming of Christ. Three vols. Dallas: Amrita Foundation, 1979-86, 1, 10.
- Paramahansa Yogananda, Autobiography of a Yogi. Bombay: Jaico, 1975, 267-8.
- Muhyideen Ibn Arabi, Kernel of the Kernel. trans. Ismail Hakki Bursevi. Sherborne: Beshara, n.d., 41.
- Adyashanti, “True Meditation,” 1999, downloaded from adyashanti.org, 2004.
About Wes Annac:
I’m a twenty-something writer & blogger with an interest in spirituality, love, awareness, activism, and other crazy stuff. I run Openhearted Rebellion – a blog dedicated to sharing wisdom and encouraging a revolution that begins in the heart.
I also run Canna Words – a blog in which I share some of my research and opinions on cannabis. There, I write about everything from legalization to hemp and the various ways people use the cannabis plant.
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