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Focus etc

Discussion in 'Meditation Chatter Box' started by Uplift, Aug 26, 2010.

  1. Uplift

    Uplift Guest

    Gidday, I have a question about the meditations. I am on no 8, and have done each one for around 6 - 8 weeks daily. Before that I have meditated for a long time, and have always been taught to focus the mind with discipline when meditating. So I am finding it strange to let my mind wander when listening to the CD's. I focus on my mantra while listening, but find my mind seems to wander much more than before, even though I am repeating the mantra.

    Should I allow it to, as the instructions suggest (unless I misunderstand them), or should I make more effort at focusing my mind entirely on the mantra?

    Also, I like to understand why I am following a system, so what is the purpose of listening to the CD, and at the same time reciting a mantra, whilst not paying much notice to the minds wandering. Or, what is the reason for that system?

    I wonder if it creates a habit. That is, say, if we choose a particular goal, rather than focus on it positively, will a habit form to allow the mind to be easily distracted, and scattered?

    Thanks, all the best.
     
  2. Edwin

    Edwin Member

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    In meditation, effort is actually a dirty word ;)

    If you have been taught to focus the mind with discipline, you haven't meditated, you will have done an excercise in concentration.

    The idea with meditation is to gently guide your attention back towards your mantra the moment you notice that your mind is wandering.
    At first, this will seem pointless, but it is kind of like gently carrying a child back to it's seat every time it walks away. After a while the child will get so tired of having to repeat the wandering, it will just settle in the seat.
    Same with your mind. After having been told several times that all that wandering thought is not desireable, it will slowly come to rest.
    In that effortless resting of the mind, the real Quiet can be experienced.
    When straining to concentrate, putting effort into it, this peace can't be reached.

    So, I am sorry to say, you have been taught wrongly in the past :(
     
  3. Uplift

    Uplift Guest

    Gidday Edwin. From my understanding concentration is essential to meditation. Buddha equated non concentration with laziness, and had exercises to develop concentration, highlighting concentration as a final stage of of meditation. In the same vein Jesus noted that uttering prayers without concentrating on the meaning is pointless. For instance, saying the lords prayer yet thinking about robbing someone is just that. That is, thinking about robbing some one. That is what would be meditated on, and so what the meditator would be absorbed in, despite mechanical repetition of the prayer. So it takes concentration, or one pointedness on and love for the meaning of the words to become absorbed in the meaning of the words. To me, I feel its like someone saying I love you over and over robotically, whilst all the while really thinking the opposite.

    Relating it to goals is because I wonder if its like someone saying over and over for instance, 'I have a new job', but really concentrating on and being absorbed in and actually constantly visualising being stuck in their present job.

    On the other part, I am genuinely interested in the reason behind the process recommended, that is saying a mantra continually, yet not really concentrating on it, whilst listening to the CD. All the best.
     
  4. Ta-tsu-wa

    Ta-tsu-wa Member

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    Welcome, Uplift. There are multiple forms of mantra meditation techniques. Some of them do require very rigid focus on the mantra. Some do not. The technique Michael teaches is one of those that falls into the "do not" category.

    However, you say you find it strange to "let my mind wander", and if that's actually what you're doing; just letting the mind wander wherever it will, then you haven't quite understood the technique instructions properly.

    The object is NOT to let your mind wander wherever it feels like going. That's daydreaming, and that's not what Michael's technique teaches. You ARE following the mantra. That is the point of the exercise. You're simply following it passively, not aggressively, the way you've been taught to do in the past. Maybe an illustration would help you make the distinction.

    In a rigid mantra technique you're taught to say (either out loud or mentally) your mantra, over and over and over. And if you find at any time you've gotten off the mantra you pull yourself back and start saying it again, etc. In this type of technique, anything but the active recitation of the mantra is considered off limits. Now, that's fine, and that works for many people, however, it does have some drawbacks. First, repeating the mantra is an active thought process which automatically means you're engaging in a form of thought. This is considered acceptable because, while it is thought, it is limited thought. If your attention is tightly focused on the mantra it is not being distracted by those million-and-one other things it could be focusing on. So you're substituting one thought for many thoughts, and that is a step in the right direction of finding mental quiet.

    Michael's technique employs a similar strategy. But in active mantra techniques, such as you've used previously, most people make the mistake of thinking that the recitation of a mantra is meditation. It isn't. It's a technique designed to get you into a state of meditation, and in the state of meditation you are no longer repeating any mantra. The meditative state is quiet and largely devoid of active thinking of any sort and that means no mantra, either. The big drawback to using any active mantra meditation technique is that you've been so conditioned to "return to my mantra" whenever you find it is no longer present, that when you do begin to experience a bit of meditative silence you interpret that as "loss of mantra", which is the great taboo, and you push yourself back into repeating the mantra, thus defeating the whole purpose of using a mantra in the first place. This situation is exacerbated by the fact that instructions on how to perform these types of meditation techniques either gloss over the need to release the mantra entirely once a state of meditation has been achieved, or they omit it entirely. This is particularly true if you have learned the technique from a book. When you receive personal instruction you're more likely to get the full picture, but even that is not always the case.

    This is a huge drawback to the active mantra techniques. The other problem is that because of the instruction to always return to your mantra and to keep that mantra going at all costs, they tend to require a tremendous amount of energy to practice. There is often a lot of strain and effort involved in holding so tightly to the mantra, and strain and effort at those levels of intensity work against you ever getting to a state of quiet and relaxation in anything but the most superficial sense. Certainly there are people who make this sort of technique work, but for the vast majority of people a rigid mantra technique will bring up at least as many problems as it seeks to solve.

    On the other hand, passive mantra techniques, such as the one Michael teaches, do not require a rigid repetition of a mantra. A mantra is repeated, but in a different way than the active techniques. By way of analogy, in an active technique you are "saying" the mantra. In a passive technique it is more like "listening" for the mantra to repeat itself in your head. I've used this example before, but think of being somewhere out in nature, perhaps in a large box canyon or on the shore of a lake which is surrounded entirely by forest. You shout out, "Hellooooo.....!", and then you go silent and listen. You will hear your shout return to you in short order as an echo. And it will repeat again, and again, each time becoming more faint and indistinct.

    In Michael's technique you are focusing your attention on hearing that echo for as long as possible. In an active mantra technique you simply keep shouting the word "Hello" over and over. Do you see the difference?

    That is why Michael's instructions tell you that your mantra will fade sometimes, get louder sometimes, perhaps even disappear for a bit leaving you in silence. It does all these things because you are not actively shouting it, you're passively listening for it, so to speak. It does what it will and you are merely along to notice it as an observer.

    To be sure, it is possible you may occasionally get lost in thoughts and have to actively repeat your mantra a couple of times to clear out all those other thoughts. But having done that, you return back into listening mode and passively follow the mantra. You don't keep actively repeating it.

    Moments of silence are not times to try to get the mantra going again. Those moments, at the instant you first notice them, are the edges of the meditative state arising. Relax and allow yourself to slip into that state and remain there for as long as it chooses to remain. Should you suddenly discover that thoughts have intruded into this silence, it's often effective rather than immediately jumping to repeat your mantra, if you simply start listening intently to see if that mantra is still there somewhere, perhaps faintly repeating itself in the background and waiting for you to notice it again. This is preferable to an active repetition. But if all else fails, go ahead and give it a repitition or two just to get the ball rolling again, and then go back into passive mode.

    You can see then that letting your "mind wander" is not at all what the technique is about. Hopefully this helps clarify it a bit.
     
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2010
  5. Panthau

    Panthau Member

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    Its btw the same for the AYP system, where one let the mantra do, what it wants to do... not forcing it.

    How can we strive into deeper stages of our beeing, when we are cramped, trying to force our thoughts? Let go are the keywords, in my opinion.
     
  6. olmate

    olmate Member

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    Hi Uplift,

    I really hesitate to make this post particularly given the wisdom already provided. Perhaps my contribution is just sharing my context and experience. It may help. It may not. In all other respects I bow to those before me.

    For me.... meditation is a way of coming to my own centre, coming to the foundation of my being, and remaining there - still, silent, attentive. It is in essence a way of learning to become awake, to be fully alive and be still. And all of the teachings I have applied to my actual experience point to it being the path to wakefullness in silence and stillness.

    This has been quite a challenge for me because the experience of silence and stillness was very foreign to me but intuitively very familiar. In fact I felt quite threatened on reflection of silence and stillness.

    Saying the mantra led to me the silence and stillness when the word was said in my heart - deep inside of my very being. And what I also discovered was that I in no way created the silence. It is there within me. What I needed to do was enter into it, to become silent, to become the silence. Because for me (and I never impose these views on anyone), silence is the language of the Spirit.

    Learning to say my mantra, learning to say my word, leaving behind all other words, ideas, imagination and fantasies, is learning to enter into the presence of spirit who dwells in my inner heart, who dwells there in love, and in silence. And in humility and in faith I seek to enter into that silent presence.

    Dwelling in this very special place allows (for me) God's mysterous and silent presence to become more and more not only a reality but THE reality in my life, to let it become the reality which gives meaning, shape and purpose to everything I do and everything I am.

    So, my daily practice with the assistance of the tones of Lifeflow and the mantra deep in my heart carry me into the stillness and silence I have tried to describe above. That is the purpose and meaning of the process of sitting each morning and night for me.

    This is a glimpse into your questions applied to my daily practice. I hope it helps with your search for understanding.

    Olmate
     
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2010
  7. Ta-tsu-wa

    Ta-tsu-wa Member

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    Olmate, what you wrote reminds me very much of something Thomas Keating once said:

    "Silence is the language God speaks, and everything else is a bad translation."
     
  8. Uplift

    Uplift Guest

    Focus

    Hello everyone, thanks for the thoughtfull replies. I want to make it clear that my aim in posting is to meditate with the CD's the best way I can. So I hope I don't come across as difficult or argumentative.

    Part of my thinking, and feeling, is influenced by my being a personal trainer. I am able to get exceptional results at times because I have learned to pay attention to the smallest details, and see the huge difference between training like that, and not training like that. So even in exercise, if a client learns from day one to begin to focus on the details more and more, eventually the aim is that they become absorbed in every detail, every instant of every rep, and the workout becomes medatative, easy and natural in a sense. Its like they become the true master of their thoughts and bodies and get a sense of being the observer, the operator, seperate from the thoughts and body. The conscious mind is stilled and the subconscious can do its thing.

    I am constantly made aware of the power of habit in my field. My first instructions always include focusing on an activated core, I have clients consciously squeeze as if trying to stop urinating. At first they find it difficult, to different degrees when trying to do that and remember other things, depending on the individual, but soon the habit forms, and it literally becomes an unconscious, or easy process. When I observe other trainers that let clients be lax in that and any other areas, that soon becomes their habit, and their results reflect it. Looking at just one repetition in isolation, habit, for better or worse spills over into all areas of the rep, and the difference in performance and results is profound.

    And thats what I am wondering about. My best results in meditating seem to be when I am that focused. I used the 'who am I' method for quite a while, which involved relentlessly observing and investigating every thought the minute it arose. I feel that when I am in touch with the real me, thought control, and the sense of seperation from thought is real. But, when I daydream, and let my mind wander, I actually get lost in the thoughts and lose that sense. So, if I am strict on wandering thoughts that ceases quickly, that becomes the habit, concentration. Concentration, or fuller awareness of the real, concentrated, undiluted me, beingness, apart from thought.

    I am also influenced by Sai Baba, despite what may be thought of him. I had some profound experiences and several interviews there. The strongest being when trying to meditate on white light (which I was doing at the time), in a courtyard there, in hot, sticky, uncomfortable, insect plagued conditions. I was having to try very hard, and having difficulty focusing when a voice literally spoke inside my head saying 'God is not white light, God is what makes white light possible'. At that instant an overwhelming sense of beingness, the most all over, delicious thing I have ever felt came over me. Without meaning to be arrogant I truly knew what beingness meant. It truly is inexplicable. When I opened my eyes Sai Baba was standing in front of me waving his hand in front of my face, laughing. That lasted for several days, to my horror eventually fading. It has happened several times since, kind of spontaneously, but never from my actual attempts, much to my frustration.

    Sai Baba is very direct regarding meditation and thought control. For instance I meditate on Om. In his view that means the goal is absolute focus on every detail, where the vibration starts, the sound, the meaning, how the vibration rises and then fades, where it travels through the body, etc. So he explains it as the real us as having absolutely no problem mastering thought. As thought being no more than a tool of ours. So he explains when we cannot master thought, it is because we are mastered by it.

    To me this fits in also with LOA etc, where mastery, or lack of mastery of thought is reflected in our reality. Sai Baba puts it simply, 'change your mind, change your life'.

    I guess then to me, the concern is that to just be passively observing thought is habit forming, and is like being the driver of an awesome car, but not minding if it veers out of control, and the associated prangs or consequences. Whereas I can see the benefits of having the focus of a grand prix driver, able to control the most advanced cars at will. Which is also the result of practice and habit.

    Thats why I ask about the reason for the method used. I like to be clear, again influenced by my personal training. If I say to a client, squeeze like trying to go to the toilet, it has a much more profound effect on them, their beliefs, trust and their efforts, if I am clearly able to explain exactly why I ask and direct them to do that.

    All the best.
     
  9. Edwin

    Edwin Member

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    Don't worry Uplift, we don't think of you as arguementative.
    You asked us for our opinion, and we gave it, no harm done ;)

    I do agree that your approach has been known to reach a state of samadhi. Being totally focused on one single thing like a mantra, at a certain point can make you see only the mantra and nothing more, and suddenly something happens inside your head that makes the object of focus become everything.
    But for that to happen, you also have to let go of the mantra as soon as the meditative state is there. Even when the meditative state is as deep as samadhi, where one can lose all connection with the body, mind, the world and all it's phenomena. Ramana Maharshi was known to meditate like this, and since in that pure blissful state time doesn't exist, he once said that he knew how long he had been in that state by trying to stand up. If he succeeded right away, he couldn't have been gone for long, like a day or so, but sometimes he was out for a week or more, and then his legs would not support him.

    Reading this, I still feel that you might be missing the point.

    But actually, that is ok.

    Like Ta-tsu-wa said, LifeFlow is designed to work in the State of meditation not in the practice.
    So, if your meditation method works best for you, stick to it, only with LifeFlow.
     
  10. olmate

    olmate Member

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    Hi Ta-Tsu-Wa,

    Thanks. I wish I was that wise (hahaha). Maybe the path may not have been so rough and tumble. But then again, each bump and bruise does represent learning, so for that I am grateful.

    Kind regards,

    Olmate
     
  11. Uplift

    Uplift Guest

    Focus

    Gidday Edwin, about missing the point, I am wondering if I am also, hence my post.

    This is what I do. I take some breaths to relaxe, let go, listening to the CD, then begin using Om. I begin the sound in my stomach region as I have been taught, then allow it and follow it rising up into my throat, the sound and vibration increasing in intensity, as I follow it leaving my mouth, right up until it fades away to nothing. I repeat it, gradually getting quieter and quieter until I continue the process in silence, still focused as if it were aloud.

    What I find is that my mind wanders much more when I am listening to the CD. So, I am wondering if I have misunderstood the directions in Michael's instructions with the first download, or if this is normal. And, I do like explanations, so really do want to know why we chant the mantra whilst listening to the CD, if the CD automatically puts us in a particular state, and why we chant the mantra in silence, etc.

    All the best.
     
  12. Edwin

    Edwin Member

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    I think that is the thing that is being mixed up here.
    LifeFlow isn't directly connected with the meditation course that is presented by this site.
    The meditation course is simply a technique for meditation, and Michael has picked the meditation technique that is most common and most widespread among western society.
    Usually, the most widespread technique is the best one, although there are exceptions on the rule, just think of Microsoft Windows ;).

    The LifeFlow CD's are there to enhance your meditation.
    Please note, this is the Quiet inside we are talking about, that universal endpoint where we reach the state of meditation.
    This state can be reached by the meditation course as tought by Michael, or it can be reached through the meditation technique you have learned.

    No matter what the meditation technique is, the endresult is the same.
    Will the LifeFlow sounds automatically put us into a meditative state ?
    No. Meditation puts us into a meditative state.
    LifeFlow will just increase the speed with which the benefits of meditations will come. It's like putting meditation in second gear or something.
    Like I said, if chanting the mantra quietly doesn't do it for you, and it doesn't or you wouldn't ask about what the point is, just leave it alone and go back to chanting your mantra out loud.

    That is just meditation technique, not meditative state.
    Can you meditate the way you are used to, only with the sounds of LifeFlow in the back ? If so, great !
    The side-effect of meditation with LifeFlow can be that your mind seems more busy. That could be because new neural pathways are being formed in your mind by the entrainment inside the track.
     
  13. Uplift

    Uplift Guest

    Focus

    Gidday Edwin, thanks for the reply. Yeh, I understand that the CD is an aid. Would using the mantra out loud interfere with the sound entrainment, is that why its best to use the meditation quietly in conjunction with the CD?

    Some of my experience may be of use or interest here. The times I experienced that beingness, that oneness were dramatically different in the way that, as Ta-tsu-wa introduced, in that actual state there is absolutely no want or need or thought of returning to the mantra or meditation technique. It is really like an awakening, like suddenly really knowing something beyond all doubt. Say a little like when you have been trying to figure out how to do a puzzle, then actually do it, it really is done. All I know is then, all experience is about that point of view. So I realised, experienced why, or how mopping a floor could be as enjoyable as surfing, because the outward experience, no matter what it was, just highlighted that being that was responsible for it. At other times I think about how that could be. Until then I couldn't understand terms like oneness, beingness, bliss, the witness, omni whatever fully, despite reading and thinking about it tons. Even after experiencing it, it helped my meditations, but its nothing like being in that state to not be in it, but to be imagining it.

    And as I said it happened each time, 7 times in all, spontaneously, I have never done it by purposely trying. 4 times have been directly associated with Sai Baba. When I first heard of him it was through a seminar of the late Alexander Everett's, where I was wanting to learn more about the alpha state and visualising, and I was really sceptical, and disappointed that Alexander had suddenly changed his outlook and was going on about Sai Baba. However, I decided to at least look as I respected him and knew him reasonably well. I came across some people who went regularly to see Sai Baba, and as I went to visit them, was hit by that state, and it lasted for days, accompanied by the most delicious smell and feelings. But, its as though everything highlights the oneness behind it, so little things like just noticing a hair on your arm or blinking are as pleasurable and profound as achieving anything. Its very difficult to discuss, and I am especially aware of how it sounds, regarding perhaps delusion or my sanity. All I know is thats what happened what I experienced.

    Meditation makes me wonder. Take fitness, or health say. Extremely unfit people can follow a program, that others have taken successfully and achieve the same results, becoming obviously extremely fit and healthy, just as fit and healthy as anyone else. Yet, as far as so called spiritual programs, there are not a heap of Jesus, Buddha, Ramana's and so on, despite many prolonged sincere efforts. Which makes me wonder.
     
  14. olmate

    olmate Member

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    Perhaps one perspective is that the journey to the extent achieved by Jesus, Buddha, Mohamad and others highlights that it is very rare to reach that state. It seems that the field thins dramatically as higher states of consciousness are achieved. In fact when the scriptures are studied on their journeys one quickly identifies that the journey involved many challenges across the entire spectrum of emotions.

    The application of meditation to any path one chooses as far as I am able to ascertain seems to point to the need not to cling to any state - be it delicious or horrid but to just be.

    Just a thought.

    Olmate
     
  15. GilesC

    GilesC Member

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    Perhaps that is true, but perhaps only if you believe it to be so. ;)

    Belief can hold us back as well as help us forward.

    Hugs

    Giles
     
  16. Uplift

    Uplift Guest

    Focus

    Gidday olmate, yeh, some would have us believe so, but then the state of being indescribable bliss is made pretty clear as the aim, as is the 'eyes have not seen, ears have not heard' quote of Jesus among other quotes of his alluding to something pretty good.

    I only know what happened to me, as ridiculously unbelievable as it seems, and the truth is I haven't a decent clue how or why. But I know there was no remote want or need of anything else, and things go extremely well in that state. The mopping the floor thing was mentioned because at one of the times that's what I was doing, as a wardsman in a small country hospital, and it happened out of the blue, weeks after I had returned from visiting Sai Baba. However one of the end results was everyone thinking I was on some sort of drug, because the things coming out of my mouth were pretty, well, sort of raw. I vividly remember telling one particularly kind elderly nurse, in front of everyone, that she had a beautiful, pure nature, and deep kind eyes and that she smelt like honey. Later when ecstacy became popular, a lot of my surfer friends tried it, (I dont use drugs) and from how they acted and spoke, I saw they said many similar things. That led me to believe that perhaps the physical result of that state is naturally elevated seratonin, or some other chemicals, as that's what ecstacy supposedly does.

    The first time it happened I was a young kid getting a family photo taken, and I felt unusually close to my brother and sister, and it happened only for a short time, the smell, feelings, everything, I kept the photo as I could never forget it. Then it happened again in mid twenties, when I did a course called 'Alpha Dynamic' run by Andrew Matthews, and they started talking about love and oneness, and it lasted for maybe a night. Then, years later when I met Sai Baba, it happened most, that first time finding out how to get there, then a few days later, then at the ashram meditating, then at the hospital. Its not something that I can really talk about, because I can see how people would think its total dribble, and also, most prefer to think it couldn't have been anything too profound, just some low rung, delusional state or something, because, well, as the saying goes, who am I? Its a bit of a source of frustration in some ways. I know what happened, its amasing. Everything, things I couldn't fathom now, were crystal clear. Its also like I could hear everyone speaking at once, and actually hear and understand it all at once. If we were like that continually, there would be zero conflict. The words I first used to explain it to people were beingness. But I cant really explain it.
     
  17. olmate

    olmate Member

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    G'day Focus and Giles,

    The path we walk can be pretty mysterious that is for sure. The inability to explain experience in words is something I understand completely. It can be a source of much frustration. I feel like I have the vocab of a 2 year old on many of these topics.

    Tapping into some of those energy levels and domains clearly can provide remarkable experiences. One of my teachers also related experiences where the energy pulsating through the body was the source of extreme pain - something akin to running 240 volts through a 12 volt appliance. But nevertheless is apparently just one of the many experiences that may occur on this path.

    I guess the only way to truely tell will be to cross those bridges when we come to them. So I continue to walk - some days like a bent over old man, other days like an athelete.

    But just the same sharing your insights is very much appreciated. I know I need all the help I can get.

    Nothing but the best...

    Olmate
     

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