In this Wisdom Path Podcast episode, Aaravindha speaks on centering and how to establish a good beginning and an effective ongoing process in your meditation. A vital part of our success in meditation depends on a good beginning phase. It's important to remember that the human psyche is a kinetic instrument and if it's left unchecked, it tends to search out and explore instead of focussing on your meditation. The result being that you'll have to restart your transcending process over again each time. Pratyahara is a term that is very likely familiar to many of you that have studied Raja Yoga or Ashtanga Yoga or even been in a meditation class in your yoga center. It means withdrawal or calling your awareness back in from your outer environment. It's your initial phase of internalizing your sensory awareness. We'll need that spinning down period to initiate a process of letting go and going deeper.

The key to all meditation practices always rests in thinning our awareness transcendentally through our local awareness into our non-local presence. In this podcast episode will learn how this is accomplished!

  • Postcast Transcript

Thank you for joining me here today. The topic we'll be discussing is on centering and how to establish a good beginning and an effective ongoing process in your meditations. 50 percent of our success in meditation depends on a good beginning. In good beginnings we learn how we're able to focus and stay centered. It's ideal to sit in a comfortable place. It's always best to sit and not lay down and preferably or you'll be left alone and undisturbed. Naturally, we always begin by closing our eyes. It's good to remember the human psyche is a kinetic instrument if it's left unmanaged, it tends to search out and explore, so it'll very likely move you to occasionally open your eyes. You might even cause that to happen before you're even aware that it happened. Suddenly realizing staring out the window or onto the threads coming up on the carpet. That's not a good idea. If you open your eyes, you'll experience an instant jump in your neural brain activity. The result being that you'll have to restart your transcending process over again each time. So from the start, make a solid commitment to not let that happen. Once you've closed your eyes. You can begin, your inward process. We'll call this initial stage pratyahara. Pratyahara is a term that is very likely familiar to many of you that have studied Raja Yoga or Ashtanga Yoga or even been in a meditation class in your yoga center. It means withdrawal or calling your awareness back in from your outer environment.

It's your initial phase of internalizing your sensory awareness. Something you'll do while also relaxing into being more available to the present. We'll talk more about that as we go on. In pratyahara, it's important to just bring your awareness as thoroughly as possible into the present. Just become aware where you are and what's occurring. With your eyes closed, with your awareness focused inward. And as simple as that sounds, it's seldom that easy. It can take a steadfast and committed focus before the exterior physical environment gives up its allure and its hold on our lives. The problem is, our minds and our bodies are conditionally throttled to whatever measure life previously demanded. So you're coming into meditation with that. This ramping up of our awareness demands a dedicated, spinning down period in meditation. Meditation doesn't just begin right out of that activity. We'll need that ramping down period or spinning down period. For our typically busy kinesthetic thinker to actually quiet down.

Even that initial centering notion, is for many people a bit hazy. Where exactly is our center? When I ask people to find their center not everyone agrees on where that is. Does it include our whole mind and body? Is it our center when we're just in the moment? How big is it? Is it a room, a country, the universe? Try not to laugh. These are sincere questions asked by genuinely committed students. And there's a good reason for that. Because the center is an elusive thing. Is centering our awareness more a process of settling into our hearts? Maybe our brains? When asked, most people think their minds are their center. Most scientists today will agree. The second most popular claim is, of course, our heart. People sometimes think this is the center because it's where we imagine we're feeling or experiencing our emotions. So for now, let's just go with the most common choice, our brains. If our brain's the center, where precisely are we in the brain? Where precisely is the watcher? The perceiver in us?

Neurobiologists and other medical researchers have failed to find any single part of the brain that qualifies as a central perceiver. There are the organs of perception, but no central perceiver. It's a very elusive issue. Keep in mind, the organs of the brain that allow us to observe are not the perceiver. They're in service to a perceiver. So where do we focus to be in the center? Ideal in meditation is to first find a point of origin. We need a place to begin an essential ground. We need a reference. We need a starting point. So we might use our mind's eye to see that place, to try to see that place, but unfortunately, trying to see that place represents a confusing dilemma, a kind of conundrum. According to ancient scripture and then also according to contemporary science, consciousness is ubiquitous. Consciousness is fundamental to everything. It's everywhere shared by all living beings simultaneously, literally shared. We imagine separation, but we're actually in a sea of consciousness. This expression that we call our bodies and minds. So the idea of having our one and only center of consciousness located somewhere precise may just be part of that separation dream. Which is fundamentally a convenient delusion. The enlightened claim there is no separation.

We're all one.

If that's the enlightened view. Then where is our center? So imagine that separation idea. That "I am" consciousness is somewhat like imagining a drop in an ocean that's everywhere without shore or limit. The dream of individuation is simply the "I am drop". In truth, we're never truly separate from this ocean. We can't be separate from it. It's the essential base for everything. Considering that center is everywhere and nowhere specific. Sounds contradictory, but it's not. Give it some thought. Center is everywhere and nowhere specific. So when your meditation teacher tells you to center your awareness where do you do that? Remember, neurobiologists just can't tell you. They don't know. But eventually you'll come to realize neither does your thinking mind. Your mind is very much like an eye and it can't really see itself. It sees what's presented to it, but it can't see its own observer. Fortunately, the wise masters all gave a great deal of effort to solving this riddle. After a great deal of deliberation and time, they divided consciousness into two fields of reference. They call these two fields Purusha and prakriti. In a sense, the divine personage and the manifestation. They stated that essentially there's only Purusha, which is the greater field of consciousness, the agent of awareness that is everywhere. But in Purusha, there, paradoxically, also exists infinite diversity. So in this oneness, there is diversity. Purusha is that mysterious everywhere, nowhere.

What we were speaking of a little earlier, Purusha, is our imperishable soul self, and prakriti is our perishable manifest existence. It's the world of change. Things that are coming and going. Appearing and disappearing. But Purusha is imperishable, the soul self that endures. While creation dances on.

We might say Purusha is a divine or maha-soul of our universe. Which is often related to the eternal masculine structure of consciousness that acts as the background and source for all manifest things and creatures. Prakriti is the quintessential feminine power. It's the birthing agent. The power in that structure, the one all encompassing expression of life that acts out the diversity. In other words, it's material existence everywhere. It's coming into existence and disappears. That's in the field of prakriti with a background Purusha. And they're always together. They're never apart. Purusha relates to our ever silent, pure consciousness. We could even say that our quintessential perceiver. Our quintessential perceiver is Purusha. And if nothing else, it seems that certainly qualifies as our self or center. Our brain and its power to enact the details of our lives isn't our center. It's more our power for manifestation or observation. It's what we could qualify as prakriti, an aspect of prakriti, the nature of manifestation. In other words, while separation may be an illusion, caused by our experience of changing material expression, that illusion conveniently allows locality to exist in an otherwise non-local field, an absolute field of the maha-soul of our universe. Try to keep that non-local sense in mind the next time you search for a center in your meditation. What that means is you wouldn't really search for any single place or condition. Instead, you'd be obliged to find center through an act of letting go of your known boundaries or conditions. Let's make a relevant distinction here. This is important. Our brain doesn't create consciousness. It's built from consciousness, it simply identifies what is appearing and disappearing consciousness. The enlightened recognize that the brain is merely a servant. Not the master, the servant of a higher unlimited consciousness. The Brain is not the center.

The essential perceiver in it, the real eye connects to life through a collection of mind operating principles. Now, one way to look at that is to say it is actually connecting, the Purusha is connecting to pakriti through a non-local to local consciousness distilling interface. There is this universal consciousness, andwe we could even call it timeless, that touches a moment. In this expression, through a non-local to local consciousness-distilling interface. And that interface is classically known as Ajna chakra, sometimes referred to as the command center. Another name for the Ajna chakra in this case and particularly helpful for meditation is Ajna caksus. Caksus means "the eye" in Sanskrit. In this case, the Ajna caksus represents the eye of our non-local soul self. This isn't the third eye. We'll talk about that. And the reason behind this is the eye of the non-locals soul self, which could also be called the aicatmya caksus. Aicatmya means that the eye of oneness. Now in most chakra teachings today, and I want to emphasize the today, because this belief wasn't always so in most contemporary teachings. The Ajna chakra is believed to be a top tier chakra of a seven chakra system. And this is what we're most familiar with. This is what's been going on for half a century in the in the western part of the world. And for a while, for a couple of hundred years now in the east. But in the originating old school chakra knowledge, the Ajna was only one of 12 chakras, not seven, comprising a system that can be divided into into four chakra trikas.

Trikas are triplets. Each trika is a triple faceted chakra. So the Sahasrara, which is considered a single chakra, actually can be broken down into three. The Ajna chakra, which is in the middle of the head, the command center, can be broken down into three and so on. And so we have these triplets. And by the time we go through the entire chakra system, we realize there are actually twelve chakras. The Ajna is central to the second trika, the Ajna trika. The one under the Sahasrara, which is considered a mind governing chakra trinity. It is comprised of one primary chakra and two sub-chakras, one above and one below. One is reaching more into the Purusha domain and one is reaching more down into prakriti or focused more down in prakriti. The Ajna chakra touches our local individuated consciousness in the vicinity of the pineal gland in the center of the head. So this is where we might sense a local aspect to this non-local to local interface and it comes from above.

But that which is above is difficult to perceive, when trying to make sense of the chakras or trying to find them. It's important to remember that they are non-local to local interfaces making it virtually impossible to find physically. A chakra is a distilling agent of consciousness that allows us to partake in a linear experience in what would otherwise be non-linear and non-local. So in search of one of those invisible chakras, the best you might be able to accomplish is to sense its influence on our manifest existence, but not it's actual presence. And unless you are in a non-local awareness, you're in that linear awareness. And in a linear awareness, you lose sense of the non-local. So the Ajna trika, the triplet influence is on the operations of our mental body. The sub-chakra above the Ajna, is named Sadayathana, which fundamentally means five senses. Five senses being fed perceptions from above are that which we perceive below. The facet below the Ajna Center is known as Manobhava.

And this is the translator chakra, it is where energy is translated from mind into the nervous system and so on. But without an agent of awareness, this instrumentation is useless. So when I speak of translation, or when I speak of actual conscious movements, I'm talking about the agent of awareness. And the organs are really the instruments that are being played.

So these three: The Sadayathana, Ajna proper and Manobhava constitute or fill what is called the manoakash disha. Mano is mind. Akash is the ethereal space that holds everything and the disha is in all directions at once, our ethereal base. This is our ethereal base where the non-local consciousness establishes the principles of mind and psyche to usher awareness. Actual awareness where we are linked-in as sole beings into our fleshy local brains. Now in life our chakras are intimately active, underwriting all that we do, and in death they're withdrawn into a subtler dimension of existence. This material, this fleshy gross experience that we think is mind and body becomes lifeless and returns back to the elements of the Earth.

And where is our awareness been withdrawn? We might call that a field of ethereal firmament or more simply, higher astral level of existence. Until we choose to reincarnate again, or until we are drawn back to reincarnation again.

Now above the Ajna trika interfaced in the crown center of our heads rests the Sahasrara trika. The Sahasrara is the thousand flamed lotus. The Golden Sun. The lotus, which is comprised of the Sahasrara proper, the Mulakarana chakra and the Soma chakra. Mulakarana is the causal, the root cause. So that's where everything began. So we ask why is it we call the Sahasrara the first chakra and not Muladhara, which is at the base of the spine. The first is where everything begins. And the Soma chakra, which is below, is where consciousness distills from this vast expanse of oneness. Ubiquitous oneness non-local. Everywhere and nowhere into an individuated incarnation. Below the Ajna trika rest 6 life activating chakras. We call it the Vishudha, purity, Hridaya the heart chakra, Hrit, that's the domain of a small crescent chakra under the heart. Manipura that's the city of jewels, it's the center and the solar plexus. Swadhistana, which is one's own abode, which is the sexual chakra. Also, the water chakra, and Muladhara, which is the final manifestation of chakras at the base of the spine. Now each of these chakra locations interface the local in our spinal sushumna meridian. A meridian is a subtle vibration, we could call it a nadi, that is the same as a meridian. The shushumna travels down through the spine. And this is the kind of unfolding or unraveling of our consciousness through those interface-chakras. Each connects our individuated self to the one unified field of consciousness from where all life comes to be. In other words, each of these places is interfaced to the non-local. Each of these chakras. But while each chakra could itself be seen as an energy focal point through which we might find our center, there's a better idea, because they're all rooted in the Ajna.

The Ajna chakra is our most immediate and direct connection to them all. It's right there in the name "command center". It is the center that governs all of the chakras. So for the purpose of our meditation, we need only to know where the local side of the Ajna caksus is and how to settle there transcendentally. It's important to note here that the key to all meditation practices always rests in thinning our awareness transcendentally through our local awareness into our non-local presence. That's in fact the very definition of meditation centering. That's the essential process and the goal, in the end, of meditation.

So a collection of nadi meridians form in the region of the brain where the Ajna caksus rests. Not many meditators today are aware of this fact, but these brain nadi lay out a perfect, energetic guide for most meditation practices. Now, the highest brain nadi complex and without a doubt the most esoteric are the triple meridians that are connected from the Ajna where the pineal is and divides into three branches up into the crown of the head. And these are called the trivani randi. These three, these final three, link the Sahasrara crown chakra trika to the Ajna trika from above. So the triple facets of the Sahasrara have a connection point in the top of the crown. And there are meridians, subtle nadi meridians, that branch in from these three points and travel down into the center of the mind where the pineal is. And there they become more distilled into the local energetic. It is distilled there into the local in the Ajna trika from above. Because our sensory awareness is linear by nature, we can't easily access these upper nadi consciously.

The most accessible meridians are the ones that move forward in the brain from the pineal area. They extend forward through the frontal lobe of the brain and forward again to a surface point in the lower central forehand. This crescendo point is often mistakenly referred to as the third eye. It's actually not the third eye. It's the sham caksus. The word "sham" is also, by the way, a mantra and translates as peace. In other words, that forehead point, the sham caksus is translated as the eye of peace in the third eye. The word "sham", as I said, is itself a mantra which would sometimes be referred to as a bija seed mantra, which can be used in meditation, mantra meditations, or internalized. If you are able to do it in meditation, you can also internalize this mantra energetically in healing practices to culture experiences of tranquility. So simply resting our gaze slightly up and forward while mentally letting go into the soft, transcendental allure of the sham mantra point brings a deepening tranquility to the psyche. Anyone can try this even for a moment. You just close your eyes. Sit. Gaze here. You're aware your awareness slightly up and forward towards the sham point and allow that sham mantra to be there. Just as a mantra is supposed to be introduced without effort. And within a very short period of time, you feel this deep tranquility softening, making the mind more gentle.

Of course, it's important to stay attentive to that process. And not just wonder, so that it can deepen. Let's take a moment and try this. Let's imagine we're sitting with our eyes closed. Let's just put our focus relaxed inward toward our Ajna interface. It's in the center. Center of the brain, where the pineal is, while remaining effortlessly self-aware. We naturally relax our closed eyes here. So gaze up and forward. With eyes closed toward the sham point in your head. Now, when you let go and quickly begin to feel, there'll be an inward draw to silence.

Simply recall the mantra,"sham".

And allow it to rise effortlessly like a memory.

And then fade away again. Each time with a little less effort.

We slip further into a more eased process of letting go.

Certainly more loosely into our source presence.

We allow our slightly up and forward gaze to soften.

And soften again.

While also letting go of any sense of localized boundaries.

Mantra comes and goes.

Any thoughts or sensations that might arise simply float by untouched.

Any judgment, resistance, attraction just float by.

Now you're meditating. And like a musical string, that was stretched on the instrument of the mind, when released in letting go, our awareness naturally, effortlessly begins to seek rest in its originating non-local source. Consistent progression of re-occurring mantra and a softening of our awareness allows us to come ever closer to this quintessential now.

Soon consciously favoring letting go again and again and again into the silent watcher, your Self, over the call of any thoughts and even over the alluring call of our mantra. We fade from local awareness to non-local awareness.

Now, all of this would define the ideal meditation, except for the one obstructing issue. As we meditate on, we begin to encounter naturally habituated tendencies of the mind. Our neurally established samskaras that keep us bound to our past, binding issues or possibly to the future. To remedy this distraction, we need to apply another form of discipline referred to as shamatha. "Sham", there it is again, peace, and "atha" means "now". So peace now.

That's the name of this next phase of this technique that takes place in the art that was begun in pratyahara. When we begin to meditate. Keep in mind, we're not trying to stop our thinking. We would miss the point altogether. The essential strategy in our meditation is to make our lives more useful, more effective and more malleable. Our focus should be to sidestep, redirect any obstructing mental conflicts and instead apply a promise of softening self-compassion. Gentleness and a willingness. To listen deeper, more intuitively. Before our deeper awareness is possible, our normal everyday activities and pressures need to be calmed down to a level where we're less tarnished with distracting emotions and those habituated tendencies, which we call samskaras or vrittis. The emotions being the vrittis and the tendencies themselves being the samskaras.

Now the spiritual mindfulness aphorisms, you've heard it before, "be here now", has over the last 40 years become a constant catchphrase for enlightened awareness.

It came to the West with the arrival of the first yogi gurus like Vivekananda, who came to America in 1893, and Yogananda who arrived 30 years later in 1920. The term sambodhi is enlightenment, the most mystical and most sought after state of consciousness on the spiritual path.

Ultimately, the goal in that is kaivalya, and kaivalya ultimately means having attained the non-local silence as the background and source of your awareness that is always there in presence. In the now. Knowing this kind of now is fundamental. It is our goal in meditation.

Interestingly, what that truly means is essential to any effective practice. We need to know what the goal is in our meditation. We don't simply begin a journey without any sense of where we're going. We may not know the end destination, but we have a direction, and we need that direction. And that understanding of now gives us our direction. So what is now presence? Could it be as simple as becoming fully aware that you're here right now?

Listen to this.

Most New Age yoga teachers will tell you just that, but it rarely is. It might be new or novel for a fledgling meditation enthusiast to hear to wake up to the present, to what's going on, rather than being preoccupied with earlier life successes or failures or being caught up in designing the future. But just being conscious of our moment only offer us a good starting point. This is the starting point that ideally can be used as an opportunity to let go of our closest sense of now into a more profound listening that can lead to a more authentic now. But without first knowing how to accomplish that ideal, that now remains nothing more than a superficial pseudo presence.

Now, only after undergoing a lengthy, disciplined, inward directed transcendental process that involves repeatedly redirecting our awareness beyond a variety of subtle cerebral filters buried habituated emotional tendencies and ingrained ego preferences, do we come to the real now. Keep in mind that authentic now will have already passed by, by the time it's travelled through your habituated perception forming mental layers to become an actual discernment or perception. When an event occurs in time, a fraction of a second passes before our mental straight translation of what happens comes into conscious play. And it's always an adaptation that initiates in the visual, somatosensory and auditory cortexes which are connected to our memories and our goals and desires, what we wanted life to be, what we don't want it to be. These cortex centers are linked through a variety of neurons to other parts of the brain. Those primary parts that serve those purposes of reminding us of those issues and qualities that we want. And this is what serves as the primary architect for our perceptions.

The human nervous system can transmit nerve signals ranging between a 160 to 200 mph, depending on if it includes an ultra-fast electrical neural signal or a slower chemical nerve transmission. But that's still time that has passed before your perception is formed during that travel time. That's when a diverse layer of neural patterns and filters alter and shape each new moment to suit our structured mental, and mean structured because we've built it, mental temperament. By the time we actually come to perceive an event, it'll have already passed. It will be altered or morphed or added to and in some cases deleted altogether. Thoughts differ from actual perceptions. They're not real perceptions. You might think I am here, but only after you've perceived what I am means. I mentioned that you're experiencing your presence through a trained translator that is strongly influenced by your past.

By the time you come to see your moment, you have already undergone a broad or vast degree of modifications and adaptations because of that translator's pre-established neural patterning that occurred through life experiences in your past. Those neural patterns act as selective accept or reject filters that differ significantly from one person to the next. So no one else sees your sense of reality like you do. So all your friends, family, all the people anywhere that you meet are fundamentally living in their own unique universe. They see things differently.

This matters because under these conditions, we don't see reality as it really is or when it's actual happening. If you were to ask an enlightened master what is enlightenment? The answer would likely be this. Enlightenment is your perception of reality, as it truly is right now. It's that simple.

This “now” masters are referring to is not the “now” the unenlightened perceive. Enlightenment is wholly and purely unfiltered by the conditions and indoctrinations that have been naturally wired into our brains. That purity in seeing remains for the enlightened. As time continues to unfold. Well, that possibility may sound a bit too lofty for some of you to believe you can accomplish. It is inherently intended as the most authentic and highest way of perceiving for everyone. It's structured in your consciousness. It's there waiting for you to awaken. And that's what spiritual awakening fundamentally is.

Now, this is realigned through implementing the practice of these five evolving acts abhyasa, vairagya, viveka, vaira'sakshi and nirodhyama.

So we'll go over these principles and explain what these sanskrit terms are. So they won't be such a mystery. Abhyasa and vairagya act as our basecamp in meditation. Abhyasa is our commitment to time and fortitude. In other words, practice. We have to practice this in meditation, there isn't just a single one and only meditation where everything becomes illumined and bright and then you're free. It's not like that. We have a neuro plastic mind, and and so we have to change and restructure, rewrite the program until it's fundamentally free of those filters. If we're ever going to see life as it truly is right now.

So Vairagya can be translated as dispassion, or poise or self-possession. It denotes a kind of developing capacity for mindfully distancing or conscious awareness from our current mental tendency while the movie, the automated movie, runs on the brain.

Because we've created it there, we've automated our thinking, we've automated our brain to make life more convenient, and we've paid a price for that, because now that automation is fundamentally what governs and filters our perceptions. So vairagya is essential because we need to be able to step back from the movie for two reasons. One, we need to know that we are watching a movie or watching an automated system of reality. And we also need to be able to step back enough so that we're not caught in it so that we can create a time to culture dispassion, innocent watchfulness, because that's essential for the next step.

It begins as a mental discipline that eventually transitions into an effortless witnessing state that evolves further into what is called the established vaira'sakshi, sakshi is the witness. Vaira is the vairagya witnessing, that stepping back, the dispassion. So vaira'sakshi is when a more advanced observing vairagya culturing process comes into its own. That's when our core awareness is forever disentangled from the rule of any mental emotions. Only when we are able to disentangle, the emotions no longer govern our choice of directions through our attachments or aversions.

You might think that this is somehow taking ourselves out of feeling, but this isn't an unfeeling state, as it's sometimes described in various yoga texts. It's an alert and dynamic witnessing state in which your potential for intuitive sensitivity and unbiased, and this is it, an unbiased feeling, and a resulting capacity for discrimination are significantly enhanced. I said feeling because we can feel our emotions, but our emotions are not our feelings.

They are positions, they are guardians that apply fundamentally in our mental body directly in relation to our attachments and aversions. And those attachments and aversions are connected directly to who we think we are. If our attached emotions are guarding certain positions, we can feel that. But our feeling is a talent, it isn't the emotion itself. So vaira'sakshi remains ongoing, as an established neural pattern and force that favors purity in observation and listening. We need that. But vairagya takes time to mature into vaira’saksi. So we need abhyasa. Therefore we marry abhyasa to vairagya. That's base camp. That's the rule of practice, you practice over time. Vairagya develops that culture as a witness and when that witnesses is accomplished then discrimination is possible on a higher level. And that's where viveka comes in. Viveka can be defined as a decision-making act or decision-making process. Even that takes place inside the emotion and distraction detaching art of vairagya. So once we have backed off, we can discriminate over it rather than be caught in it. So Viveka is a pure act of discrimination, not the kind of discrimination that involves making ordinary, everyday choices. Viveka is more profound. It's a more profound intuitive act that favors what's real over what's not real. And that, of course, changes and evolves as grow in our spiritual awareness as well. So viveka evolves around the practice. When what is right practice or wrong practices is persistently discriminated, which later becomes discrimination between what is an illusion and what's the truth, or what is the mind and what is the pure observer self.

The overall process that we're dealing with here, can be encapsulated within one word and that is Nirodhyama, nirodh. That's the process. What we're doing is we're moving from the local to the non-local. And in the process of doing that, we are also releasing all of our hold on emotions and tendencies, letting thoughts go by, sensations go by again and again, making this discriminative choice always for subtler and more profound levels of depth.

And that process, that overall process that's going on between the vairagya and abhyasa and vaira'sakshi and viveka, that overall process is referred to as nirodhyama. Yama being the control of bringing everything to silence, to rest. Nirodhyama is the overall process of insightful transcendence, which relies upon the following essentials of meditation practice we've mentioned already. Abhyasa ongoing or steady practice. Vairagya, impartiality. our ability to step back from our thoughts, sensations or emotions to witness. Viveka, our ability to discriminate over truth and illusion in an evolving manner, and then that working with that evolved dispassion where we've established the witness and that becomes the primary, it's vaira'sakshin, and this then becomes the primary medium for perceiving reality. This is a huge step in the evolution of consciousness and that occurs gradually in meditation. And of course, we need to add to that process, that persistent letting go. And we can refer to that also using a Sanskrit word and that is vimoksha, which means persistent letting go. And then there's ekagrata, and ekagrata happens when you finally come to silence. Coming to silence is we've gone through the process of meditation. And of course, it's much more complicated than we have time to speak on here.

But once we have come from the local surface, awareness of the mind, and we have transcended through the layers of patterning. And eventually we have let go enough. We have transcended deeply enough and profoundly enough. We touch the floor of the psyche and mind, and and then we rest. We slip beyond this membrane of silence. We find that we are in our original state, which is known as samadhi. "Sam" mean means oneness, wholeness and "adi" means the first. So the one, the very first and the beginning of everything. And in that silence, we need a certain amount of an ability to stay attentive or it just becomes a kind of blank to us. So we culture with these other five steps, abhyasa, vairagya, viveka, vaira'sakshin, vimoksha

We culture that in this deep field of awareness and that deep field of awareness of being able to stay in intent. Staying attentive. and this undivided awareness is called ekagrata.

We need that because we need to learn to function on that level of silence where silence touches the mind unfiltered. And from there we manifest dharma or that which is the healthy aspect of expression of life. The dynamic nature of the mind requires an object to keep it steady and its inward directed course. And we can use apanasati, which is breath awareness. But we might find that mantras works even better and there are future discourses we'll have on that, which will explain why without that hub, our ingrained emotions and thought patterns will likely draw our focus into daydreaming. We need some radar. We could end up daydreaming, regretting or analyzing past events, future planning and possibly even fall asleep. So we need something to go back to with the mind, not just let go. If we just let go, the pattern that takes us in to sleep will take over and most likely we'll fall into a dreaming state and maybe even deep sleep. While most distractions involve preoccupations with the past and future. This is the this journey. Most of them involve our preoccupations with the past. What did we do wrong? What would we have liked it to be? Somehow we imagined if we could fix it or we regretted, or or we are using it in some way, then to plan the future.

And so are the distractions always there in the mind. And this is how our minds have been trained in life to function. And so the mind is going to carry that out, whether we let go of it or not. Because those patterns are automated. So we need that vairagya stepping back, so we can learn to not get caught in it, so we can go deeper. But other distractions can show up, some with the promise of pleasure, or a threat of pain. Pleasure and pain can exert strong influences on our awareness. In fact, most people live within that reality of either seeking pleasure or pain, depending on one's what's their pleasure. If it's pain or pleasure, we all have our own idea of what we want.

So if we dwell on either in our meditation, pain or pleasure, rather than redirecting our focus back into our mantra practice, our meditation will probably quickly degrade into little more than a planning session in a daydream or a reverie of distress or hope. Unfortunately, those emotions are connected to a lot of this. These distracting emotions arise in defense of what we want or what we don't want in our meditations. These distracting emotions can be efficiently dealt with provided they're not habitually running by unrecognized. So we need to be able to stay attentive now. Emotions might show up, through our unaware resistance to letting go. We're afraid of letting go. There's a fear there or an underlying programmed preoccupation that urges us to try. Maybe too hard. We're trying to improve ourselves rather than learning how to be and travel through the layers of what is, to a deeper, more profound truth of ourselves. And so this trying too hard can be quite an obstacle, because either of these things, resistance or fear of letting go and possibly trying too hard can serve as negative influence that overrides our process of transcendence. We're not transcending. We're in a battle. So the less resistance, we give an emotion and the more intimate we are with it the easier it is to release it. This has to happen at the same time: no resistance, become intimate with it. Don't push it away. Don't resist it. Resisting an emotion only empowers it to push its way back into our awareness again and again. You've heard it before, "What we resist persists". And this is essential. This knowingness is essential in meditation. So we don't resist things that are in meditation because we if we resist things, we're always in the battle with what it is we're resisting. The mind is doing its job, it's trying to say, pay attention to this. Deal with this. I'm your servant here. I'm trying to give you something you need to attend to. And so if we resist it, we're creating a problem. So release is most uncomplicated if we don't give our emotions any kind of a voice or justify it or judge it or analyze the emotions. That's psychotherapy, we don't need to do psychotherapy or meditation because it's not meditation anymore that's self-contemplation.

We're trying to find resolution within our emotions. But there's an easier path in meditation as releasing an emotion requires giving up fundamentally first, all resistance to it. And you can do this. Anyone could do this any time, even out of meditation, without indulging the emotion. After which, if we have given up complete and all resistance to the emotion. Without indulging, without giving it a voice, without justifying it, without judging it, without analyzing it. In that last moment of letting go of our resistance the emotion simply evaporates. The reason is the emotion was only there because you were in state of resistance, having to deal with something that you wanted or didn't want in your life. When you've given up the resistance, you're in a renewed state and more innocent state, more sincere state of listening, and that's essential in the process of meditation. Sincerity and innocence are key. So the fundamental distractions that we face in meditation practice that are bound to our focus and awareness of where neuron established life patterns are, our preoccupation with past or future, our attraction to pleasure, repulsion or pain, patterns of doubt. That's a big one. We doubt, we entertain doubt, we might not even give ourselves a chance to meditate. "I can't do this at all. Why should I even try?" It could steal everything away. Doubt could be a thief. Self judgment. This is something we want to be attentive to when that begins. You learn to observe it. It's just stepping back and letting it go, redirecting to mantra.

This is very effective in getting past it and our potential for lapsing into laziness. We have to watch out for that. Laziness is like a little fog that comes in mentally, a little fog that creeps in and and dulls the practice. And soon you can create a pattern of laziness in your meditation. So when you sit down or meditate, there's just a fog and you just wander. You can't stay within. This is all something you can attend to if you acknowledge those tendencies when they're there, because once you can acknowledge them, you can discriminate over them.

You can favor something else. Abhyasa, Vairagya, Viveka. All of those can come back into play while you're in the process of letting go. So this combination of disciplines that we just spoke of now. Constitutes Shamatha. Now we have come to the point where you should be able to understand their fundamentals, very simple fundamentals of centering and establishing a good and effective ongoing process in your meditations. And there was our talk today.