Sunday, June 12, 2011

'Doing' and 'Not doing' Meditations -Finding the Sublime Being within and Casting Out the Traitor

 Meditation like physical exercise has many forms, but there are two distinct types, 'doing' meditation and ‘not doing’ meditation. You need to learn and practice both to obtain the best results. Doing’ meditations provide power and confidence, but do not bring inner peace. ‘Not doing’ meditations provide little power, but in time lead one to self realization and inner peace.

‘Doing’ Meditations: The power of emotion linked to the sublime being within

Mantra Meditation is a popular and effective type of ‘doing’ meditation. A mantra is a form of inspirational internal dialog, telling yourself positive things and psyching yourself for great achievement. It is also an attempt to create a potent ‘high’, like that from taking a psychotropic. With practice this ‘high’ can become sustainable and stable, much better than any drug you can find.
At all times the internal dialog is one of the most potent tools for controlling consciousness as to a large degree you are what you tell yourself you are. The mind is restless and easily distracted, the emotions are sticky and elastic, they hold to things and will not let go. The emotions are stronger than the mind and always win a tug of war. However, the emotions are themselves blind and deaf, knowing only that which the mind shows/tells them. Using a mantra over and over fixates the mind and causes the emotions a attach themselves to the meaning of the words in the mantra. I am perfect. I am whole, I am universal, I am Sublime is one I use. I does not matter that you may not feel at all sublime when you start the mantra. The idea is to slowly patiently shift from thinking and judging yourself by a false materialistic standard towards seeing yourself as what you truly are, a sublime and wonderful being of light that is ever evolving and becoming brighter. The mantra is not lying, it is the belief that you are less than sublime is the lie. However, as every politician knows, lie often enough repeated can become accepted as a truth, and this is what happens to each and everyone one of us. We have been convinced by others not to trust or believe in ourselves as they were convinced by other in their turn. By believing that we are inferior we become inferior and so the whole cycle of human misery is ratcheted up. The concept of innate inferiority is imbedded deep in your mind, emotions and the culture around you, so getting over it will take time; mantra meditation needs to be practiced regularly to have good effects. Mantra meditation requires emotion, each time you repeat the words the feeling should grow. Steady relentless emotional pressure linking you ever more firmly to the sublime.
As an alternative to using a mantra, the concentration be fixed on the breath. You need a ‘complicated’ breathing pattern for this, I recommend the Ojai breathing explained later in this book. Again you need to concentrate hard and generate positive emotion while breathing. Various forms of visualization can be used.
All forms of ‘doing’ meditation have one weakness though and that is that they do not bring your true inner peace. This is because they suppress unwanted thoughts and emotions rather than dealing with them. In order to deal with negative emotions you must first understand them and for this you need ‘not doing’ meditation.

'Not Doing' meditation: Finding the traitor within

  'Not Doing' meditation, sometimes called insight meditation concentrates on the breathing, but the breathing is completely natural, with no effort made to alter it in anyway. Thoughts and emotions are not suppressed but allowed to arise and then observed dispassionately. You do not add any emotion or concentration as in ‘doing’ meditation. You need a quiet place and plenty of time for this type of practice as at first you just get your normal thoughts and feelings. After while though, if you refuse to become attached to any particular thought or feeling, the psyche begins to ‘unwind’ and you become aware of the ‘emotions within emotions’.  We have many have many levels of emotion within us, but it is the deeply hidden primary emotions that control our behavior and this why we are often ‘our own worst enemy’. Everyone has a ‘traitor within’ and this traitor is in your heart. The traitor causes you to make mistakes and than never lets you forget that you made them, so that in you can become so afraid of failure that you fail every time – in the end you may give trying altogether. The first aim of insight meditation is find the traitor and understand how it affects you. Once you have discovered this, the  effect that the ‘traitor’ can have upon you steadily decreases and this brings about true peace of mind. To illustrate this please consider the following:

Imagine a guy who has been given morphine in his food all his life without his knowledge. Then one day the morphine is taken away - he will crave, but not know what it is he craves for. Imagine after while the morphine is put back again, the subject will feel well again, but not really know why. His intuitions may grasp that it is something to do with his food, and he may try desperately to change his diet, eat more, eat less, eat this, eat that. If he changes his diet at the same time the morphine is being put in his food he will think that he has the answer, only to be disappointed later because really his change of diet had nothing to do with his ‘recovery’.
Another strategy he will try is to displace the craving on to something else, so he starts some form of compulsive behavior. This creates a second level of attachment and suffering as the compulsive behavior only brings some limited symptomatic relief. Displacement compulsions are always subject to diminishing returns, so he has to become increasingly compulsive for the same reward. Worse still compulsions have side effects which cause more suffering and further confuse the individual making it harder than ever to find the original cause of suffering.
So what is the root craving in us all? Well, that probably varies from person to person, but one thing is for sure and that is the craving is established in childhood. Your parents and those around you are ones who put in and take out the 'morphine'.
Let’s, take an average type upbringing, sometimes a child feels loved and can play happily, learn positively and so on. Other times, there are negative feelings around that hinder or prevent this. Mostly the child does not know the true cause, just like our friend on the morphine.
When the child reaches adulthood they are exposed to a whole new range of desires and possible attachments, but old secret craving remains and insures that whatever they do the will never truly be satisfied. The patterns become more and complicated and the inner pain does not abate. 

When just sitting quietly focused on the breath, making no effort at all the whole matrix of human misery begins to unravel itself. This can lead to some unpleasant experiences, but you should not be deterred, as the pain you suffer when meditating has a ‘cleansing’ effect and afterward you feel clearer and cleaner. You do need to be careful though that do not become ‘trapped’ in negative emotions after you have meditated. After practice, lighten the pressure, make jokes, have fun, whatever way you find best to forget the subject of the meditation - let it be and let it pass. Ultimately, the aim is to get beyond these negative emotions, rather understand them as in analytical way. It doesn’t really matter what happened in your childhood, or at any other time. Some understanding is needed, but mostly not in great detail. If you sit long enough you will find that inner peace begins to replace inner turmoil and this will take less and time. Finally you should be to sit and be at peace instantly.

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