Recognising and Resting Within Awareness
The next stage of training is to become mindfully aware without focusing on any specific object. It is an awareness without any fixation on objects, it is a wide open, lucid, relaxed and alert.
It sometimes called open monitoring. It’s essentially mindfulness training but without any particular object of meditation.
“Just go on becoming more and more aware, and you will find your life changing for the better in every possible dimension. It will bring great fulfilment.”
What is Awareness?
Awareness is the bare observer of things, the first hand witness of all personal experiences.
It is clear, lucid and knowing. The Way of Meditation is to recognise this awareness directly and rest in its clarity without intellectualising about it too much. Our awareness is the basis for all experiences, both pleasurable and painful, and is not necessarily fully recognised or understood; however all conscious beings have awareness. Awareness is a continuous thread behind all experience. For training in awareness meditation it is important to be able to discern the difference between awareness and objects appearing to awareness and to enter the stream of awareness without a reference point. Awareness is subtle, clear and immaterial which makes it difficult to apprehend.
The hardest thing is trying to grasp awareness with awareness, which can be like an eye trying to see itself without a mirror; instead a certain skill is required to rest or settle IN awareness without being drawn toward, entangled by or fixated on any objects at all.It has qualities best described as clarity, lucidity and knowing, the silent witness, or by contemplative traditions as the soul or an inner light, but all these terms are pointing to the same thing, which is intimate to everyone’s conscious experience.
“What we are looking for is what is looking.”
~ St Francis of Assisi
Meditation for Resting in Open Awareness
1) Assume the correct meditation posture.
2) Compose yourself in a relaxed and easy way, without thinking about the future, without thinking about the past, and without judging the present moment.
3) Remain composed in a loose and relaxed way without modifying or changing thoughts, feelings, or bodily sensations; allow them all to be just as they are.
4) Simply remain alert, calm, and aware, not fixed on anything and also not distracted either.
5) Constantly letting go of all objects as soon as they appear to your awareness; this will eventually happen instantaneously but initially will take effort.
6) Allow yourself to remain relaxed and clear, lucid and at ease.
#Repeat again and again in short sessions until non-distraction from present-awareness is stabilised.
Quality is always better than quantity. Five minutes of stable pure awareness without fixating on any thoughts or objects is much better than an hour of dreaming and distractions. With training, the periods of calm lucidity will expand and even subtle undercurrents of thoughts will be absent.
Regular formal meditation sessions are advisable for anyone living the Way of Meditation but are not absolutely necessary.
For success in meditation training it is vital to continuously return to ‘home base’ during daily activities. Home base is whatever training you are engaged in at the time, such as mindfulness or pure awareness. Short periods, many times, is key.
“Meditation is not mind, and mind cannot create meditation. Meditation is getting out of the mind, becoming a watcher of the mind, witnessing all the stuff that goes through the mind — the desires, imaginations, thoughts, dreams, all that goes on in the mind. You become simply a witness. Slowly slowly, this witnessing becomes stronger, becomes more centred, rooted. And suddenly you understand one thing: that you are one with the witnessing, not with the mind; that the mind is as much outside you as anything else.”
Recognising the Mirror-like quality of Awareness
Perhaps one the best examples for the clear, reflective, and lucid qualities of awareness is a mirror.
A mirror’s surface is utterly clear and reflective, just like awareness. A mirror has the capacity to reflect whatever is put in front of it, without being affected by the object, just like awareness. And except for the mirrors in fairy tales, most mirrors do not judge beauty or ugliness, instaed simply reflect the image of the object without prejudice, just like awareness can.
Meditation to recognise the mirror-like qualities of awareness
1) Assume the correct meditation posture.
2) Compose yourself in a relaxed and easy way.
3) Imagine all appearances of thoughts, feelings, and external objects are appearances in your mirror-like awareness.
4) Remain confident that no appearance can harm your clear mirror-like awareness in any way and simply observe them being reflected.
5) View all appearances as perfectly equal, without liking or disliking any appearance or judging any as better or worse.
6) Within a state of pure reflectivity and equanimity, remain relaxed and alert.
7) By remaining in this natural state, pure, reflective awareness gets used to itself.
#Repeat again and again in short sessions until stability is achieved.
“How do you go about finding anything? By keeping your mind and heart on it. Interest there must be and steady remembrance. To remember what needs to be remembered is the secret of success. You come to it through earnestness.”
~ Nisargadatta Maharaj