An important point: the rest of this section is about a means to meditate. It you already have a means to meditate that has enabled you to know what is going on “inside”, you don’t need to do this. It’s for people who have not successfully meditated, in that they have not seen directly what’s going on “in there”. That’s the only success that matters. Once what is “in there” is seen, comprehended, then more meditation may be redundant1.
Meditation will not lead to enlightenment. It may grant knowledge of your self.
It is assumed that the preliminaries have been completed, and that you have identified a satisfactory method for initial relaxation.
The aim of this meditation is simple: it is to audit your self, to find out what is going on apparently “inside” you. The aim is NOT to change anything (although change will happen by itself), it is just to look and see2.
Let’s see how we can do that.
If you would prefer to be guided through this, this will be available soon here.
The inward gaze
The first step is to get yourself into a comfortable but alert position, as described earlier. Normally this will involve sitting, on a chair for most people; you can sit in lotus position if it is actually familiar and comfortable for you. You can lie down if you wish, but that increases the likelihood of going to sleep, which is not the aim here.
Then run through your preferred relaxation technique, so that your body is easy, at rest, free of tension.
The tools of investigation…
The main tools (out of the list of resources mentioned earlier) that we use initially are the power of attention (or realisation), the power of intelligence (or discrimination), and the power of sensation (or perception).
These are ‘powers’ because (you will eventually find that) they are both revelatory and transformative, and yet directly at your disposal without any dependence on anything or anyone outside you.
To use these tools we engage our intent.
The methods of investigation…
First let us engage the attention. From your starting relaxed position, look at part of your body.
Try looking at the palm of a hand, if that is comfortable for you3.
Now look closely at a finger.
Now back to the palm.
Now see the whole hand at once.
What you are using to do this is your attention. You have just focused it one one place, then on another, and then slackened the focus to see more.
In a moment do this exercise again, but this time see if you can be aware at the same time of you perceiving the changes in your attentional focus; try to be aware both of what you are looking at, attending on, and the apparent place of origin of that attentional focus: this is where you are coming from.
That origin is the intelligence in you — and it’s not the sort that shows up on an IQ test, it is inherent intelligence which is capable of direct discrimination without any thought being involved.
Next, while looking at the palm of a hand again, touch the palm very lightly with a finger, or fingers, from the other hand.
Next, pull that finger or fingers back just so that they are not touching the hand but are very close.
Feel the sensation of warmth between the fingers and the palm.
Touch and release a few times. Sense the sensation in the palm, and in the fingers as well if you wish, but note — perceive — that feeling of warmth between the two when they are very close. Now feel the sensation in the hand where the sensation is experienced.
There’s almost a tingly, electric sensation in there. It may take some repeating to get it at first, as it is subtle until it is noticed, then unmistakable.
You may want to try closing your eyes while doing this to better sense the sensations.
Let your perception of the sensations in your hands develop. You are not perceiving the outside of the hands, or the feeling of movement of the muscles and bones of the hands, you are looking to the sensation within the hands.
Once you get it, you will never lose it again.
Visiting the body…
Once you have developed a clear sense of the sensation in your hands you will find that you can successfully investigate the rest of your apparent body using the same tools — that is, your attention, your intelligence and your sensation.
What you do is this:
- place the attention on a part of your body
- be intelligently aware of the body part and of your focus of attention
- sense the sensation in the body part
Some parts of the body are harder to sense than others. I cannot say for you which parts these will be: this is down to individual differences.
But let’s try a few parts of the body where most people find it easy enough to sense the inner sensation.
Start with the lips. Put your attention on your lips. If you have any difficulty sensing the lips, touch them very lightly (as you did with the palm) and move the fingers away, sensing the sensation when you are not touching. Alternatively, if you prefer, just touch your upper and lower lip together and then separate them just a little, get the sensation of the sense of the lips going. This can be done imperceptibly in a public place, without being too obvious.
The lips have a very fine tingly sensation in them.
Then the nose. Try the same touching if needed. The nose has a very odd sensation.
Go back to the hands. Try moving from the sensation in the hands, back up the arms, via the wrists (quite sharp?) to the forearm, elbow (almost painful?), and then the shoulders.
You can try raising the shoulders a little and then letting them drop if, as is very common, you find the sensation of tension in them.
Now try to sense the neck, round to the jaw. Let your jaw drop a little. Wiggle the jaw from side to side a bit, and up and down without clashing you teeth together. Note any tension there, and wiggle it away.
Go down to your upper chest. Breathe out a little, and then in. Note any tensions in the chest, perhaps like a tight band. If it’s there, breath out again, then in, and repeat a couple of times, breathing the tension out each time. Sense the sensations there and see if you can be easy.
Go down your back from the neck, down to the hips.
Sense the weight in your body pressing down on the hips, pressing down on the chair. Sense the chair pressing back.
Now go down to your knees, sense the sensation there. It may almost be painful, more likely so if you are older.
Above the knees sense the upper thighs again pressing against the support, and the support pressing back.
Go down to the ankles, again a strange sensation.
Then the feet, pressing against the floor if you are sitting in a chair. And again, with the floor pressing back.
Now come up the front of the leg to the groin, where there may be a mass of sensation.
Next to the lower belly.
The belly-button – odd sensations often around here.
And finally, to the solar plexus, the sensitive area about a full palm’s width up from the belly-button. Sense what you can there. It may be very sensitive. That is where stirred-up emotion tends to sit.
By now your whole body may be humming with sensation. This sensation is the sensation of life in your body, and it was always there. All you have done is to acknowledge its presence. This acknowledgement is a way of appreciation, of thanks for what is there.
The whole body is full of sensation, made out of it, and you can sit there and sense that sensation, enjoy it.
Observation and attendance…
Now you have a sensational base in which to sit. Enjoy. Sit. Watch, while keeping in touch with the sensations. Note that thoughts will enter. Note that other things will enter… see if you can see where thoughts, emotions come from. See if you can see where the thoughts and emotions are noticed. See if you can see where you are seeing from… try and keep it up for some ten minutes at least at first, longer later if you can and are inspired to do so.
What now? Well, persist until there is some fruit. You may recall, right at the beginning, the sprouting seedling just above was shown.
This represents a truth — that in the apparent reality in which we live, every change, every embodiment, every fulfilment, every promise takes some time.
See if you can establish a habit of returning, repeatedly, to the sensing of your sensational body.
Repeatedly, re-centre your locus in the apparent observing intelligence.
Repeatedly, watch carefully to see what is apparently ‘in there’.
Watch it all like a hawk watches for lunch… see what you see. Pounce on any movement you see and watch it…
You will find this entails the expenditure of a great deal of a certain kind of very special energy, one you probably did not know that you had available to expend.
You may find this exhausting of that energy, and feel drained, perhaps whilst also sensing a subtle exhilaration.
The exhilaration, if you sense it, comes from you approximating to the truth in your life, through facing yourself as you are doing here — for that’s what meditation is, in part, facing your self and your life, instead of taking life for granted.
The exhaustion, if you sense that, is due to the energy you need to maintain this stance having been habitually dissipated in other ‘mental’ and ’emotional’ activities, so you lack a useful store of it.
In the next section we will discuss how to gather that rare energy you require to see further, amongst other things…
- Eventually, something else will become available to you, but let’s not anticipate…
- This technique of meditation anchored in sensation owes a great deal to the one who taught it to me, Barry Long, qv. Thank you Barry, I trust I have carried it a little further along…
- If you have physical difficulties with looking at your hand or moving your limbs, ignore that aspect of the instructions and instead focus on whatever is available to you. The outcome will be identical in nature as all the action here is going on ‘inside’…