Life before Meditation

There is much wisdom in the world, and humanity has gone through instances in the past of great spiritual growth, in the times gone by of the great prophets, the enlightened awakened and the sages and philosophers of humanity, both male and female.

The times in the past of profound spiritual growth, through the wisdom and teachings of Lao Tzu, Confucius, Buddha, Mohammed, Jesus Christ and more recently Gandhi, just to name a few, there are many other great and wonderful souls both male and female in our past, that can light our path, if we let them.

For my personal experience the below is a telling quote, which was the beginning of my being present and then creation of mindfulness for me – the quotation is from Lao Tzu, a philosopher and poet, who lived in China around 2,500 years ago, the founder of Taoism and the (probable) author of the Tao Te Ching, a truly wonderful book, which I keep near me. I find new meaning in, almost every time I pick it up.

“If you are depressed you are living in the past. If you are anxious, the future. If you are at peace you are living in the present” – Lao Tzu

This is a very revealing quotation for it gives you the baseline so to speak, the beginning point for living in the present … if we monitor our thoughts we can tell for instance is we are living in the past, we are depressed, of perhaps thinking of a time of a lost love, lost fortune, missed opportunity, regret, guilt or shame … if on the other hand we are anxious … we are concerned about something that has yet to happen … and expectation or a fear that is yet to be fulfilled, such as a specific event or perhaps a general feeling of unease or doubt about one’s future prospect … being present on the other hand, is when we are creating something, writing, composing, playing intense sport, or perhaps even making love, being entertained, or something that requires all our attention to be totally in the present moment .. a place where there is no thought of the past or the future only the moment you are in.

There are many other aspects of thought, such as ego that can only thrive when we are not present, it is fed by the way we look at the world and of course our beliefs and fears, … almost every one of these are groundless, but the ego needs them to give you an identity, to separate you from another, so you can pointlessly compare yourself to another … silly really, for comparison like competition is meaningless, more on the ego, another time.

One is in fact always in the present moment, don’t fight me on this, just wait and see how this unfolds, for we view the past as a memory (a memory from our own perspective, our own point of view) from the present moment … we look to the future as an expectation, again only from the present moment … realising this, is the beginning of the path to being present.

If you are constantly referring to the past, the best way (for me) was to accept it, and so come to terms with it, perhaps even to give yourself an apology, one you may never have received from those in your past, to forgive another, to learn, always to learn from the past, in fact from all experiences.

Now we do not forgive past transgressions for the sake of another, we are forgiving the past so we can be free of it, so it won’t control our actions in the present, to move on and more easily reside in the present moment … always the present moment… to at some time in the future, we bring that present moment out of the practise of meditation and live our life that way, almost always in the present moment is the aim of mindful – meditation at this point, for we must remember, that we do not meditate to find peace, we meditate to be at peace with what we find.

The only point we have here to remember that whilst being present, even mindful, once grasped is relatively easy, but remembering to be mindful, not always is … but as soon as we feel ourselves drifting away from the present moment, don’t engage, return to the present, for there is peace and reality, the “what is” of your life.

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A Conscious Journey

Many years ago, I went out to exercise, and meditated in the park as I often did, a new experience visited …. it was as if a pebble had been dropped in a pond, the ripples went outwards and outwards from my consciousness touching all life …. bringing it within me. Each life was different in the hues of colour, for life is abundant.

From that moment on, we are connected to every life form, from the tiniest to the largest mammals and the multitude of life in the cosmos.

We can at almost any time bring that experience to focus, for that light is within.

I believe a child is born enlightened, as when they are young, there are no barriers between ourselves and the outside world, they are part of everything they see and experience! I once saw a toddler experience rain for the first time …. there was so much joy to see in her.

I would suggest that the ego is not formed at this age, so children have no idea that they are separate from anyone or anything. I don’t know whether the ego is born with us, or due to our upbringing we are infected by it. For the source of all atrocities in humanity is an ideology, a dogma or a belief that is pursued by the ego and facilitated by the mind.

We are all born abundant, only our thoughts change this ….

When children reach about 6-8 years old they can be reasoned with, this for me is when meditation might be offered, for when meditation is learnt, at some point it may evolve to mindfulness and in that state the worries and self criticism that we normally experience are given their real perspective of their impact on our lives, for when mindful we stay present and flow. We then see that most of our fears and non-present thoughts are illusions.

If it their destiny, then again over time, mindless-mindfulness will come. But what do I mean and understand by this? It is a state of consciousness, where one does not cling to anything, but is clear in all cases, without hindrance or obstruction, without being stained, yet without dwelling in statelessness.

The Evolution of the Consciousness … this is the best way (for me) to illustrate what happens as a we evolve.

Imagine you are in a Movie theatre …. When we are young (it is not everyones destiny to evolve in this life). We sit in the front row, surrounded by and (for me) assaulted by the very loudness of the speakers. The light from the screen draws us inwards, it becomes a part of us, we lose ourselves in it. We focuses absolutely on experiencing the entertainment (or distraction) …. Perhaps another example of this particular experience would be, when we focus only on achievement, or in the case of Entertainment, smartphones, some extreme sports, Play-stations and other game boxes, do by their very nature force us to stay present – in doing so they bring us a dopamine burst – our self-gratification..

During the movie, we do not think about ourselves at all, unless we do not enjoy the movie, then our other thoughts may be of a not-present nature.

As we evolve, we move little by little towards the rear of the Theatre, and as the distance lengthens between where we are and the screen (life), it becomes progressively distant, we observe an ever widening perspective of the image, of life and our place within it, we see it not as a single event, but the big-picture, including the events that led to it …. We realise that in many ways we can be our own enemy for when we focus on a fear or an expectation and over think it, it often leads to suffering …. Remember what we focus, we give energy to and so this thought (good or bad) grows in our lives.

Meditation that we do in the morning, is practice, at some point in this practice, we are able to carry that state with us throughout the day and in our life.

If we are able (which is happening in some schools) to teach mindful meditation to children as young as 8, will over time, over the generations, I feel will change the nature of humanity, and will lead to a self respect and therefore respecting others, for me it is on the path to peace, love and understanding.

When in mindfulness we stay present in the moment, not reliving the past or investing in our expectations of the future – this does not mean we don’t responsibly plan for the future, it just means we stay present and don’t invest in and therefore do not live in the future by building and living in castles we build in the air, instead of creating our futures in the present moment.

Eventually, if it is on the path of the individual, we evolve further and come via little steps to a Mindless-Mindful state where unless we have a task to do that needs our mind, the mind of the person is at rest, and empty of thoughts. This place is a also an incredible place of calm. Hence when an event happens that requires our mind we can give it our absolute focus and attention.

We can only create our life, make decisions and plan in the present moment because that is the only moment we have … it’s the only place we can act when you think about it, as well we look at the past through the present moment and we look to the future through the present as well.

Anyone can reach enlightenment in life, (some may spontaneously change due to a sound or other stimulus) or by study or when they face and overcome the major challenges that come in their lives. There are multiple, perhaps uncountable paths to spiritual growth, but what is common to all paths, is the state we are in when we arrive.

In my case, I was asked by my soul, did I want to go through the portal (the image I had of the next step), I said “if I don’t what will happen”, my soul responded “You will go no further, we will stop here” …. For me I said lets go forward, I have not regretted that decision.

Words are generally poor conveyors of meaning, especially of such experiences and of absolutes …. As you are aware, words convey only part of the message, the rough plot (a bare bones storyboard) so to speak. I hope that this gives you some background of the journey that awaits us all (my belief) in this life or another …. all of us, will evolve to the light.

My articles are simply my perspective and they are offered in the spirit of discovery and empowerment – take what resonates with you and leave the rest.

Writing a Healing Journal

Writing meditation is an exercise that I have used, and today some 20+ years later I still carry a notebook.

The purpose of this is to help direct our mind to understand and then change our behavior, by understanding the causality of that behaviour. This created for me a place to start.

The way I have understood this is that any challenge we have undergone, in the past or even a current challenge is often not understood at a feeling level – because we are face to face with it, we cannot understand the entirety of the experience.

Find your ideal outdoor space and start to write

Hence by writing we can forge a connection between the conscious mind and that part of our mind that houses feelings. Now do correct me if I am wrong but feelings are placed in the mammalian part of the brain, referred to as the Limbic system … it’s where emotions and feelings are, it also where all decisions are made … so I have found by writing every day we gradually form a link between the feeling part of the mind and the rational mind … over time we create a perspective as we convert the feelings into something we can understand … a cause .. we have to do this as the Limbic system does not have language hence, we have to understand its messages another way …. gradual and regular journal writing did that for me, perhaps it can do it for you?

Gradually over time, we form a link between the parts of the brain and will understand that a frustration we might be feeling may be something like a past regret, a depression or some level of anxiousness about something in the future …the quickest way to start to understand this is to say …. if you are feeling guilt, depression or shameful then the event you are thinking about occurred in the past. If you are feeling fearful or anxious then the event you are concerned you might expect to occur in the future.

Many of the common feelings come from fear … control comes from fear, aggression comes from fear … even conformity is based on control which mostly comes from fear, there can also be fear that non-conformity will hinder us in attaining their goals or being accepted … Governments love it, but conformity is a pipe dream as it is quite unattainable – that is where Government use fear, blaming minorities, scarcity and alleged external threats to control us, to subdue us. The only real threat to most countries comes from within, from the egoes of those in power, the politicians themselves.

This whole experience is about how you and I relate to what makes up our personal world, for we are in a relationship with everything, what is our relationship to its various parts.

For this reason, once you discover what your concerns are, divide them into two groups, what you can do something about, like change your attitude to a past personal event or forgive those concerned (this brings freedom as well) and the second group … those things we can do nothing about … the actions of Government and bureaucracy … something that individually we can do little about … the reason we split the triggers, the categories for concern, is that we need to empower ourselves and trying to make sense of or understand a Government / Bureaucratic action is difficult, implausible … but detaching from it, we are no longer a victim, we can understand what is going on within.

To start, take a few minutes a day (most days if you can) … find a quiet place, then just start writing … it doesn’t even have to make sense, just seeing on paper is the beginning. For me I would go down to the local park, take my shoes and socks off, ground myself in the grass or the soil and begin.

I have found that after about a week of being quiet and writing, you will find yourself becoming more in tune with your feelings, you will become calmer … this can help with your day to day relationships —- My experience is that the changes in your understanding and behaviour will take place without any conscious effort, no matter how old, or what has happened in the past in the normal course of your life, writing a journal will literally calm and begin to bring a greater understanding to your life in just a matter of a few weeks.

A good thing about writing is that we can go back and look at it gain in the future, in my case this allowed me to look at what I had learnt aand how I had changed. When an event no longer confronted me, I would remove the pages and burn them …. for some reason those issues would only very rarely return.

Though this experience behind this post is many years old, and speaks to an experience even older, I thought it may have value to someone.

This is not the only way, do what works for you, as I have said before my articles are simply my perspective and they are offered in the spirit of discovery and empowerment – take what resonates with you and leave the rest.

A Process of facing fears and personal transformation

Though this post is many years old, and speaks to an experience even older, I thought perhaps some of it may have value to someone.

I had been aware for some time of my limiting thoughts, emotional blocks and unconscious behaviours – these are basically hangovers from our past, our previous learned responses which had outlived their usefulness to the person we might wish to be …. for me they were stopping me taking a leap … however the strange part is that I had the answer within me .. what I needed to do was repeat a process which I had carried out once before – for when you think about it, everything in life is a process, in this case to confront these behaviours which were now irrelevant to my life and renew myself … in a way to renounce who and what I was, and allow myself the freedom to introduce myself to what next evolution of me … the same process is available for everyone, from that awareness, we eventually come to the Acceptance that action is needed … then when we are ready we do take action.

 

Thank you to the unknown photographers.

Twenty five years ago, I went through a period of intense personal change – looking back now, the process was based quite loosely on the 12 step program .. a proven program, which has been going since 1935 … in my case I am not driven by the need to stop drinking, but by the need to use the Transformational 12 steps program to help bring around personal change … to change the way I react without thinking – so that basically I don’t .. in fact to change my default response to pause and reflection before I respond – giving me that time to consider the impact of my words and deeds on others, but also our own evolution … in other words to respond from strength, instead of reacting from weakness – for me the outcome helped made me whole – after the completion of the program, I am content from within me … however the work doesn’t stop there, for now on it is also a continual process of self assessment, the development of your internal witness – on this occasion , I knew it was time, I was committed to change, in fact, I had been looking for a way to make it happen for months … and just before this time, I felt I was in darkness, always feeling my way forward, metaphorically falling over stuff .. this stuff was my past, my beliefs, my history, my limitations.

Note before starting … you need to be committed to this course of action without any reservation … if you are not committed, it won’t work .. you can’t fake it … it’s a process – I needed to follow the 12 steps, some are not easy because they can be a very confronting process – have the courage and belief in the process to follow where they lead, for if you want your future to be different from your today … it is journey to take .. you might use the analogy that the process, is almost a low level reformat of the way we look at life … it is equivalent to a process of clean up and clean out — for me it was worth it, let me assure you.

I went to a local AA meeting, just to feel the atmosphere .. to meet and talk to the people who had successfully come through the program .. a true strength, a compassion, but an overall humbleness from those (old timers) who had completed the program was all I felt … I went ahead with the steps in order, going through each until I was absolutely happy that I was totally committed to it – for me, as I was so committed to change and my previous experience with the program, it was not as difficult as I imagined, for I had been ready for such a process since before 2000.

You have to want to do it .. I might add it doesn’t magically rid your personality of these reactions to stimulus, again its a process, what it does is that it makes you very aware of your personal triggers that create reactions and behaviours, it allows you to confront them and once you have, there is no fear, there is just a growing contentment, happiness, love and a strength – a wish to help others – remember we all have fears and reactive demons at sometime on our path, our journey.

I believed I needed to become less reactive to stimulus .. to be mindful, present in the moment, to forgive and forget the past hurts and failures .. to bring into the present only the learning, my goal was to live life mindfully, part of which means we need to stay present .. for that is the only place where anything is created, the only time when things are real and can be done … this also means letting go of expectations (investing in them anyway), whatever they are, to be open to the Universe through love and abundance. I came to the realisation that when we invest in expectations we are by the very nature, creating illusions as these events are in the future, they haven’t happened yet, as Buddha said attachments bring suffering, so if the expectations are unrealistic we are in fact setting ourselves up for disappointment and perhaps pain.

If you feel the need, from the awareness of self, look at the process, if you need any help … please write … I will help how I can.

Since this, I have had some realizations that came from unblocking my limitations, incredible clarity has come … all this was like breaking through the shell if you like that had enclosed my understanding … now I guess I am within a bigger shell … one day I will push through those limitations as well.

It took me a while to write about this … personal transformation is something we can only do for ourselves and mostly by ourselves … the change comes from within in fact everything does … it brought me strength, forgiveness, a commitment to love, to the self, and to my future self …. Good Luck!

This is not the only way, do what works for you, as I have said before my articles are simply my perspective and they are offered in the spirit of discovery and empowerment – take what resonates with you and leave the rest.

Solitude & Transformation – 18 days alone in the forest

I am writing this is Cyprus, detached by time and distance from the original experience in Australia.

It has taken me many years to achieve this, a very limited perspective about what happened in this experience, in time this perspective may also change.

The originator was a frustrating experience which I had allowed to happen where I had given others my love and trust as I believed I was loved, this was betrayed, instead their misguided ideology that valued no one but themselves, their beliefs, assumptions, projection and fears was the end of us … this experience which I had was created through my own beliefs demanded in me real solitude .. I had reached a point where all the old ways no longer made sense, I kept hitting a wall – people’s promises and words did not match their actions … I needed to find what was real as mindfulness and meditation although helping weren’t bringing clarity.

In a sea of pain with my internal compass was spinning – I had no idea what to do … I was unable to understand the thinking, the beliefs and values of those who had professed their love, then had created this challenge, all emanating from a group that said they lived by Buddhist teachings – a truism being that the basis of all relationships is trust.

I decided to isolate myself purposefully from all distractions, to try and understand why this challenge had come to me … what was it in me that I had to understand, to face and overcome, I wondered what was I to learn from the experience?

The nurturing environment of nature beckoned, it had always been a wonderful energising and calming experience for me, I would go. …. I took some food, tent etc and went looking for a camp site in the state forest – my past experience in nature automatically kicked in, I set up camp, explored the area, boiled water for a drink, all the time feeling the balance and harmony, the nurturing energy of nature flowed into me, then I began to meditate.

Over the next 18 days, I travelled through transitions – the first four days, were a most unsettling, and a very confronting experience … illusions came and went … even in a conscious state I found difficulty in understanding the actions of others … my ego screamed out in defiance of my mindfulness but I did not engage and after a while its voice diminished until eventually the no mind state came … for days I was in a place of wonder … peak experiences came …. some have been repeated since, it was an incredible humbling learning experience as again I could see all life, and the inherent balance and interconnectivity of life, the abundance of nature all around me, from the plants, the insects, the birds the animals and myself – we were one.

During my time in the forest I heard an another voice, a voice I had heard before, which I now know is my soul, it asked me did I want to go on? I asked what would happen if I didn’t, the voice said “we will then stop here, but if you go through you can never go back, you are on a new path” … I said let’s go, and here I am.

I have never regretted this decision.

In the forest, after a while I become one with the environment, the forest and all the life it contained … I couldn’t separate myself I couldn’t judge the actions of others for this reason – this extended to my recent challenge … I couldn’t judge, all I could do was to try and empathise in an effort to understand their actions and what beliefs had brought the situation to me – there was nothing in me that enabled me to understand the motivations of the others in this experience, all I could was to accept the situation, forgive those that had betrayed me, let go and move on.

For me, in solitude …. and nature … I able to see myself for who I am, and then in time understood what I truly wanted.

In my time in the forest, I truly understood the Alan Watts quote: “If you go off into a far, far forest and get very quiet, you’ll come to understand that you’re connected with everything”

Any action, good or bad that comes with intent, brings Karma … I knew that Karma would handle the situation with those in my past far better than I could, so I let go of the past, forgave it and moved on.

As always this was my experience, it may have some similarities with your own or not. There is no right way for everyone’s journey is their own

Along with a new perspective on the present moment, Peace, Love, detachment, understanding and presence came and has stayed.

 

My posts are simply my perspective offered in the spirit of discovery, exploration and empowerment – take what resonates with you and leave the rest.

An approach to, and possible Blocks to Meditation

In the beginning, for your physical environment, find a quite place, where perhaps you could prepare a small display of familiar objects, or just a small candle. For clothes, make them free and open so they don’t constrict you. If you need a cushion, sit and cross you legs at this point comfortably. Now this is important, find your center whilst seated. Try rocking you body forward and back in your seated position, until you find the place where it feels balanced, do the same from left to right, … when you find that balance place, it will feel right .. perhaps then place your hands in your lap (or some other comfortable place) and begin.

 

“It is not meditation that stops the mind. It is the surrender of the mind to the soul, and the soul to Truth. It is when you prefer the word of Truth to the word of your own intellect” –Yogi Bhajan

It is common that people when they first begin meditating, believe that they must stop their mind, stop all their thoughts in order to meditate effectively. Perhaps they have heard about the blissful meditations of friends and acquaintances and wonder why theirs isn’t this way. The mind activates innumerable neurons releasing a large number of thoughts, most of which we are not conscious – perhaps we are only aware of one major thought, perhaps a worry, a concern, an expectation, a fear … or perhaps a depression or shame for an event in the past.

A way to begin having a more peaceful mind is to try and stay as present as possible, I cover some of this in previous post here

When we sit still and quiet the body and breath, soon the flood gates open and the mind starts to release thoughts it has in the ego and the subconscious. These thoughts can overwhelm and unsettle us, control us … or you can let them pass, without engaging and release them. Don’t minimize or dismiss your progress, for in the beginning to simply sit with a quiet mind for 30 seconds is an achievement … for as we go into meditation, you will notice the distractions, the worry, the fear, “what’s for dinner” … etc, continue to present themselves, simply acknowledge the thought, but don’t engage, instead lightly move on and return to your point of focus, perhaps a mantra, a lighted candle, or simply your breath, which has a beautiful ability to focus time.

Practice will allow you to empty the subconscious mind, and with consistent practice you can sit for longer periods of time. The time you spend in meditation allows the mind to assist you throughout the day because it is not so preoccupied with being the boss, you become present in your life, a marvelous, peaceful and empowering state.

The sitting is not meditation, it is practice, with time and consistent practice, you will be able to take the state of being present, being mindful, during meditation and engage in that state in your daily life .. please remember that progress is all about small incremental steps, it takes time, please be patient.

Meditation – a first look

Let’s look at an overview of meditation itself.

For me, I believe we don’t meditate to find peace. We meditate to be at peace with what we find – in Mindfulness meditation we develop the ability to accept the emotions and feelings that occur during the meditation.

For meditation, we need to develop the ability to stay present. What I mean by that is to stay in the moment, without reliving the past or having expectations about the future.

Imagine yourself meditating half way down a long hallway in a house, from the front door to the back door. The thoughts come in the front door, you note them and accept them (for they are you) … then you lightly move on, without engaging in the thought itself, (it will go, once you don’t validate it) the thought then moves on down the hallway and out the back door, it may come back, each time it does follow the same process, it will lose its urgency – its .. “you need to engage with me.”

The thought may be about the past (depression, regret or shame perhaps) or about the future, such as anxiety or fear about a forthcoming event, or perhaps the fear of loss. We cannot invest or follow the thought (no matter how important or urgent it seems), for the moment we do, we drop out of meditation, because we are no longer present, so we can no longer be mindful.

Once we regularly meditate, we develop mindfulness, in part it allows us to understand what we can change, and what we can’t – to detach from things we cannot control, for instance, other people’s action (or any influence outside of us) that effects us. I find now, that mindfulness itself is not difficult, but what is difficult is to remember to be mindful in our day to day lives.

Note; Mediation is not something to be achieved, it is something we have to be the person to properly meditate – it can be a slow process of becoming, but take heart, even sitting on a mat for 30 seconds with a clear mind, is worth celebrating, remember little steps forward – often. Each day if you truly wish it, it will get better it – but it does takes time – remember nothing worth having is a easy fix.

Sleep – the great restorer

Once I regularly meditated, it affected my whole life. Sleep, became deep and restorative. Sleep, especially uninterrupted sleep can be elusive, yet mindfulness meditation assisted me in getting more restorative regular sleep, without medication.

Mindfulness meditation can allow us to gradually develop greater control over our emotions, which leads to clarity of thought in difficult situations. For me the revelation was that once I realised that everything changes, nothing seems to be that imperative in the moment, remember it’s not the situation that is causing you pain, it is your thoughts about the situation.