Meditation is an internal hang spot. It’s a place within ourselves we can go to and just be.
It doesn’t have to be an external location – it could be anywhere – but internally it is characterised by a certain state of mind. It is a state of mind that says, “I am here. I am aware of whatever is going on – externally and internally. And I accept whatever is happening with an open mind and an open heart.”
We enter a state of present awareness and stay there without becoming distracted. If our mind wanders off, we bring ourselves back to present awareness. In this state we continue to note thoughts, feelings, sensations, sounds and so on, as they arise and pass. Gradually, we become aware of Awareness itself, as an indescribable presence surrounding us.
The arising of pure awareness has a remarkable effect on us.
As the Tibetan Buddhists say, “In the state of awareness everything within us is self liberated into its own natural condition.” Old physical tensions emerge and are released. Buried emotions come up to be acknowledged and resolved. Old ways of thinking are reflected on and replaced with innate wisdom. We go through a process of reviewing and releasing stored up areas of tension and contraction from the past.
Over time, as we liberate ourselves from the held-in tensions of the past, a new pristine sense of ourselves starts to emerge. Instead of mental distraction, and physical and emotional pain, we start to experience a natural sense of wellbeing. It feels good just to BE.
We realise something very profound. It is not through our own efforts that we feel good.
Feeling good is our true nature. It is innate. It is who we are.
We tap into our true nature simply by entering the state of Pure Awareness. Once we are free of the past, then each time we hang in our new favourite hang spot – the state of Pure Awareness – a deeper and richer sense of wellbeing arises.
To maintain the state of Pure Awareness, and avoid the pitfalls of distraction or dullness, we need to bring three elements into play when we meditate.
- We need to be actively engaged with the process
- We need to allow the process to unfold spontaneously, and
- We need to monitor the process with an ongoing mindfulness or awareness.
We can represent these three elements in the form of a triangle with the three points being:
Active engagement means we really want to embark on this journey. We cultivate motivation and commitment, especially for those times when the going gets tough. We seek out a teacher or guide to help us through the difficult times. And we learn to persevere in the face of old habits of laziness or distraction.
Spontaneous allowing means we learn to get out of our own way, and allow our true nature to emerge as the spontaneous experiencing of wellbeing, joy, compassion, and wisdom.
Monitoring awareness means that we remain mindful at all times of what is arising, what is resisting, what is moving, what is stuck and so on, and bring in the right amount of engagement or allowing, according to the needs of each moment.
We can see from this description that meditation is not a static or fixed state. It is a dynamic process.
Sometimes we are just cruising in a state of peaceful wellbeing. At other times we are struggling to overcome old habits of resistance or distraction. That’s why monitoring and responding wisely to whatever is occurring in each moment is an important skill to develop.
My teacher Osho described meditation as a “knack”. It is an art that involves a dynamic balance between activity and spontaneity.
Eventually, we reach a point where struggle and resistance dissolve and our true nature becomes fully liberated into its own natural condition. And this happens simply through entering a state of Pure Awareness. Nothing more is needed. We discover that which yogis have called Sat Chit Anand – truth, awareness, bliss. The ultimate hang spot.
Frank Vilaasa is a counsellor, healer and meditation teacher living in Fremantle WA. He is the author of What is Love? – the spiritual purpose of relationships and can be contacted at www.awaken-love.com