“When the modifications of the mind vanish,
it becomes like a transparent
Awareness comes from practice of dispassionate detachment. Become aware of your thoughts and feelings and your self and look at all three from afar. The sages remind us, “You are not your body and you are not your mind. You are something beyond.”
How does one put this into practice?
Start with the breath:
Sit in a quite place with your spine straight. Close your eyes and watch your breath. Don’t analyse don’t control, just watch.
Watch the inhalation and the exhalation. Become aware of your breathing. Focus on the breath. Watch it for some time. Become aware of the various stages. The inhalation, the pause after the inhalation. the exhalation. The pause between the exhalation and the inhalation. Has the act of observing affected the natural flow of breath. Are you controlling it? Let it flow naturally. Just watch.
Thoughts will rise up and flow. Like clouds, they form and disappear. Acknowledge them and let them pass. Do not react to them, be detached and just watch. Practise this regularly. You don’t need much time. Just 5 minutes to start with will do.
Watch your thoughts but do not wander with them. If you catch your mind wandering, acknowledge the thought and let it go. Then start over again. In the initial stages of meditation practice it is important to start again and count the breaths. Each time the mind wanders start the count again. The count can be a silent count, or can take the form of a mantra, or one may count on ones fingers or on prayer beads. But the count is essential. It helps focus and helps you to discipline yourself. Each time you catch your mind wandering and bring your attention back to your breath you are becoming stronger in the practice.
Constant practice makes it easier as time goes by. Soon you will reach a stage when you can leave the counting behind. In the initial stages you will notice that the act of watching the breath is changes and controls the breath. For beginning practice this is ok. You can vary the inhalation and the exhalation to suit you. You can watch the length of the inhalations and the exhalations and the pauses in between. You can observe which of your nostrils is more prominent. These observations and control through awareness help in becoming conscious of a hitherto unconscious activity.
In later stages of meditation the control will flow away and you will be able to observe the breath in its natural state. Then you will just be the breath. The breath will breathe itself. Both the body and the mind will fall away.
Witness your feelings:
A similar awareness exercise can be conducted on your feelings. Neither be attracted to your feelings, nor agonise over them or run away from them. Just watch with awareness and watch how your mind reacts to them. This act of distancing will release the energy that is being wasted in controlling and suppressing negative feelings. It will reduce the power that feelings exert over you. You will soon watch them dispassionately and see how they have been influencing your actions and thoughts. Each time you get caught up in the feelings remind yourself that you are neither your body nor mind but something beyond.
After constant practice you will come to terms with the feelings that form such a large a part of your mental make up. You will understand them and be comfortable with them.
The act of witnessing and distancing allows the life force to do its natural healing. When we identify too much with the ego we become attached to out thoughts and feelings. We see them as either as pleasure producing or pain producing. Awareness practice helps us to step back so that we can see things as they are, without the colouring of attachments. We get naturally guided by the higher self and thus transcend suffering and pain.
As the practice continues we learn to be with “what is" and accept ourselves for what we are. We recognise the beauty of our unique individuality respect ourselves for who we are.
Witness practice helps us to focus in the here and now. As the mind stops being ruled by its own fluctuations we are able to focus on the world around us.
Will and determination:
In order to succeed one needs to cultivate the desire to learn and the determination to carry the practice through. This combination of desire and determination results in long term benefits. This satisfaction is different from the excitement one gets from short term experimentation.
As the awareness practice continues we observe and participate not only with our mind but with our entire being. We develop a newer perspective of the world with a heightened sense of involvement and a greater orientation in the present.