Navigating the Lake of Consciousness, A Guide on MeditationBy Austin Witherow
This is a bit of a "longer" post, so a quick breakdown of its components:
- First, I will explain the Mind, how the Mind came to be so Monkeyish in our Lifetime(s).
- Secondly, I will overview the goals of Meditation according to the Yoga Sutras
- Third, I go over some methods of meditation from Yogic, Buddhist and Tantric Traditions
- Last, I give some insight on how to integrate a meditation routine into your life, no problem!
The Mind is like a vast, endless Lake. During the day, night, even when we are dreaming, the Mind moves. It is always fluctuating, sending ripples across an otherwise glassy still surface. Throughout the day, countless Sensory Conditions disturb this Lake of Consciousness. Sensory Conditions include sensory organ, emotional and mental perceptions. Through Meditation, we still these fluctuations by Letting Them Go. When they are still, our Connection with Cosmic Consciousness permeates into our Life. When we Live from this place, Anything is Possible, and Life takes on a whole new meaning.
Self Realisation and Samadhi
In Korean, the word Mind is 마음 (Maum). It not only stands for the Mind, but the Heart as well. In its Original State, this Maum, our Lake of Consciousness, is Still. In Complete Stillness, it reflects the Will of the Heart, our Higher Self.
In Yoga, we seek Samadhi. Samadhi is Transendence. Transcending what? Our own Limitations. In Samadhi, the Mind has gone beyond into Complete Stillness. The Observer (Your Localised Consciousness) and the Lake (Universal Consciousness) have become One.
Samadhi comes in a variety of stages. As our Meditation practice progresses, we begin maintain heightened levels of Higher Consciousness. When we Live from this Higher Consciousness, Anything becomes Possible. We transcend our Localised Limitations, because we Maintain Connection with Universal Consciousness. When Connected, our Higher Self is able to fully Express itself. We begin to live in Flow and True Abundance.
Before we were Born, our Soul resided in that Original Nature of Stillness and Serenity. When born, we are thrown into this Lake and immediately, the Lake begins to ripple. No this, yes that, joy this, sorrow that, it goes on forever.. These forms are irrelevant. We all have baggage. It is our goal to Release these Accumulations. As we Release through Meditation, the Lake begins to again reflect wonders of Heaven.
You will notice, in your practice, that the Mind is Wild. It takes time to Tame the Monkey (Ox in the Zen Tradition) Mind. We must not worry, but continually pursue our practice in the face of all obstacles.
Yoga Begins with Meditation
The Yoga Sutras is one of the most modern ancient texts. Succinct its prose, Patañjali teaches us the goal of Yoga, to Still this Lake of Consciousness. It is not to get a sexy yoga body, to do handstands, or anything else. These things are (quite) nice, but are ultimately useless if we do not achieve Depth in Stillness. These physical practices evolved from the Hatha Yoga Pradipika. You'd hope that more practicioners of Yoga would have read it, but they missed one of the sutras:
rāja-yoghamajānantaḥ kevalaṃ haṭha-karmiṇaḥ | etānabhyāsino manye prayāsa-phala-varjitān || 79 ||
"Those ignorant of Raja Yoga, practicing only Haṭha Yoga, waste their energy fruitlessly". Those who practice Hatha Yoga with Raja Yoga as the Ultimate Goal, "becomes the Creator and Destroyer of the Universe, like God".
Therefore, after Setting Intention, we Focus on the Cultivation of Deep Meditative States. When you finally begin to do What You Love from a place of True Peace, then Lifes meaning changes entirely. Imagine now, how sexy we will be at the beach. Imagine that amazing our handstands and the other things. Imagine the Joy that WILL radiate as we begin Living from True Center. We must strive to operate from there earnestly, immediately, and always. What exactly is Meditation?
Meditation According to the Yoga Sutras
Nowadays, the term "Meditation" is thrown around quite a bit. There are walking meditations, moving meditations, guided mediations, and so forth. These are good and come with their benefits. In this approach, we focus on Dhyana, Meditation according to the Yoga Sutras.
When doing guided, walking, etc meditations, multiple External Senses are still engaged. Externally Engaged, our awareness struggles to go Inward. This is not to say these methods are bad. Quite the opposite. They Calm Mind and Body, Promote Well Being and facilitate an expansion of Consciousness. They do not, however, offer the Depths of an Internal, Still, Meditative practice.
After our senses begin to draw inward, we cultivate a singular Focus. This Focused Concentration is Dharana, the Sixth Limb of Ashtanga Yoga of Patañjali. This is where our Meditative Practice begins.
As we hone this Singular Point of Focus, we begin to experience Meditation, Dhyana. This State of Consciousness is uninterrupted Awareness. Using Seated Meditation as a tool, we can begin to experience and sample the various states of Samadhi rapidly.
So how do we hone this Singular Point of Focus and what do we train our Focus upon?
Methods of Meditation
There are many Methods of meditation. These methods simply offer different Objects of Concentration. A beautiful book, if you have the patience to read its 1328 pages, is the Book of Secrets by Osho. It is his modern commentary on the Sri Vijnana Bhairava Tantra. It contains over 112 methods given by Shiva to his wife, Shakti. Below, I will overview a few of these, and other methods as prescribed by the Buddha, and others.
The point of Meditation, as pointed out earlier, is to maintain Uninterrupted Awareness. It is not easy to do this if you are continually jumping around with methods. Does one find water by digging thousands of small holes? No, one finds water by digging consistently with sustained effort in a single place. Overview these methods, try them out for a little bit earnestly. Go the Path of Least Resistance, find one that you Feel Resonance with, and stick with it.
Awareness of the Breath
When the Buddha finally got fed up with all that craziness in Life, he sat for 44 days under a great Bodhi Tree. It was Enlightenment or Bust. All or Nothing. He sat, and focused his attention on the Breath. For 44 days, he was assaulted by the Demon Māra, by desire, suffering, great achievements, and more. On the 45th day, he reached the Final Stage of Samadhi, Nirvikalpa Samadhi (Nirvana).
His method is supremely simple. To control the Breath is not the method. The Method is to be Simply Aware of the Breath. This is Anapanasati. Take the attention to the tip of the Nose. Sense the Breath as it flows in and out of the Nostrils. Do not control it, just sit with it. That is all. When the mind wanders, come back to the Breath.
Earlier, I mentioned the Lake of Consciousness and its Ripples. Thoughts, emotions, past impressions, sensory conditions, etc, are all ripples in this Lake. These ripples are all Vibratory in Nature. Good, or bad, these sounds are broadcasted into the Void. The Void is listening, and it Manifests according to your Vibrations. Mantras are repetitive in nature, and lead to conditioning, programming, and more. To Neutralise these Non-Serving Ripples, we can introduce a much more powerful Mantra. I will provide three mantras that you must choose one of, and stick with it.
All Mantra are to be repeatedcalmly with our Internal Voice. One can repeat them externally if one wishes, but we wish to go Internal with our practice.
The first Mantra is the Vibration is Om (ॐ). This Mantra is the Primordial Seed of the Universe. It is the Vibration, according to Hindu Mythology, that created of the Universe. It is the Vibration that pervades the entire Universe as it is maintained. It is the last Vibration heard before its Destruction.
The second Mantra is the Vibration Om Namah Shivaya (ॐ नमः शिवाय). The Mantra opens with the vibration Om, recognizing the Universe. Namah means to bow before. Shiva is the Primordial Consciousness that underlies the entire Universe. This mantra vibrates deeply across our Multidimensional Elemental Self.
The third Mantra is the Vibration I AM (AYAM). This was the first mantra I was introduced to, and is the core of my practice still after 8 years. The Vibration was introduced to me via Yogani from the Advanced Yoga Practices site. I actually still build a decent portion of my practice on what I have learned from Yogani. His methods will be touched upon in the Āsana and Pranayama sections of this High Vibrational Yoga practice.
With Mantra, one must simply continue to come back to the Mantra when the Ripples overwhelm us. Breathe deeply, and continue the Heartfelt repetitions of the Mantra for the practice duration.
Building Your Meditation Practice
All methods are to be done seated with an erect spine. You may use cushions, supports, or a wall to rest your back against. Lying down fully is okay, as long as you do your best to NOT FALL ASLEEP! Save that for later. When the body aches, you are distracted, or WHATEVER (it does not matter), simply come back to the Method. This must be done daily, without pause, for the remaining duration of our lifespan. Or slide back down the Mountain into levels of Unawareness. Your choice. You can always begin the climb again.
Many things will come up. We are effectively cleaning out our Consciousness. That Divine Lake of Cosmic Consciousness that was once Pristine, filled with Debris. Meditation is cleaning and disposing of these things, one by one. Simply let these things rise, and let them go as a Mountain is undisturbed by clouds passing by.
In the beginning, the Ripples are very overwhelming. This is normal, and it will take some time to subside. Do not worry. We must keep digging if we wish to reach water. When we get our first tastes through consistent practice, we will thirst endlessly for more.
In the beginning, it is enough to sit for a few minutes. Maybe you can only make it one minute, maybe you make it to five. It does not matter. Simply start. However far you make it is a monumental stride in Self Realisation. Keep track of time by using a timer .
It is also recommended to meditate as early as you can in the morning. Doing so is the Primer for a Truly Powerful, Centered and Focused Day. Meditation in the early evening is also recommended. Meditation before bed can lead to difficulties sleeping, so try not to unless you must. Time is Made, not Had. Therefore, make time to cultivate this habit early in your day.
When you have completed your first session, you must not rush out of your Seat. Take a few moments to reconnect back with the Body. Take some deep, calming breaths, and move the body gently. Once you feel grounded, you may go about your day. Try to take the Silence and Cultivation into your Day. That is where the True Meditation begins.
Continuing to your second session, simply add 30 seconds to your timer. Continue from here, adding 30 seconds daily, until you reach a comfortable 20 minute daily practice. When you are able to do this once daily, consistently for at least a month, a second session should be added. Try to do the first method, as recommended above, in the early morning. The second should be done in the early evening.
Please let me know if you have any questions, experiences, or feedback. Wishing you all the blessings and success in your practice.
 I use Insight Timer personally, and would be honoured if you added me there. Search for "Austin Witherow".