Meditation might mean different things to different people, and the aims they hope to attain might be different too.
Some, meditate because they want to relax their body and mind, and others, because they want to get rid of their anxieties or stress. Some, long for peace of mind, and others, pursue meditation because it helps them focus their mind or become better persons.
Beyond all these differences and aims, meditation can lead to something higher. It can help you see beyond appearances, thoughts and beliefs. It can help you discover your real “I”, and “awaken” a wider sort consciousness.
Meditation, if taken earnestly, at some point, makes you ask deeper questions. As your focus, inner peace and ability to quiet your mind grows, you become aware of the consciousness that is beyond your thoughts, beyond the surface.
By delving inside yourself with the help of meditation, into your consciousness and sense of awareness, you will come to know yourself, and discover your real “I”.
You will come to realize that you are more than your physical body, your individuality, or ego. You will realize that your thoughts, feelings and beliefs are only an outer layer, and that your awareness and consciousness are beyond them.
These words might seem strange or meaningless at this moment, but if you keep meditating, in time, you will accept them, since you will become your first-hand experience.
This Real “I”, is like a bright bulb of light, which is hidden from sight by many covers. We have to strip away the covers. These covers are our thoughts, feelings, beliefs and habits. By stripping them away, we uncover the internal bright light of our true being.
How do we strip these covers? We do so by focusing our mind, and calming down the nonstop chatter of the mind. This is one of the main roles of meditation.
We do not have to create this “awareness”, which is our true being. We only have to remove everything that covers it.
Does this sound complicated? No, it is pure simplicity. I don’t say it is easy. I say it is a simple process, but it requires time, effort and inner work.
Let’s do a simple experiment:
- Stop everything you are doing, and for a few moments look inside yourself, at your awareness, trying to focus on it. Just be aware of your awareness, without thinking of anything.
- Try to feel this awareness, consciousness, and sense of existence and being alive.
Thought after thought might try to divert your attention and make you forget to follow this exercise. This is natural, since the mind is not trained to focus. However, if you persist, for a brief moment, you might experience a sense of calmness, bliss and happiness, and a “different, wider consciousness”.
The Awareness – Consciousness Beyond the Mind
The feeling of existence, of consciousness, is always with you, no matter where you are or what you are doing. You might not be aware of it, but it is always there, unchanging and continuous.
This awareness-consciousness is beyond the mind, but since the mind is always in a state of constant thinking, the attention follows these thoughts and does not allow you to experience it.
Like clouds that hide the sun, so thoughts, feelings and desires hide this consciousness-awareness.
Thoughts keep your attention on the outside, on the surface, on external matters, but with the help of meditation, you can learn to control your attention, direct it within, and delve inside you.
Thoughts, feelings and beliefs change over time, sometimes radically, but you retain the same awareness, the same consciousness of your being.
Your consciousness is like a background that never changes. It is like a screen on which the events of your life are projected.
This consciousness is beyond thoughts. It always remains as it is, without change. It is the “stable” part in you.
Everything comes and go, but your “I”, your feeling of being alive and existing, is always the same, never changing. This “I” is your real Self.
Practicing “Who Am I” Meditation
I would like now to suggest a certain kind of meditation that would help you become aware of your real essence, delve within, and discover the “I”, the consciousness beyond the mind.
This technique, the “who am I” meditation, would help you realize who you really are, calm your mind and your thoughts, and improve your focus.
1. Find a time and place where you can be alone and undisturbed. Any time of the day would fit, but early morning is recommended, since you are still calm and relaxed after your night’s sleep.
2. Switch off your phone, and TV.
3. Sit down in a comfortable position, with a straight back and without slouching.
4. For a few moments pay attention to your body, feelings and thoughts, while at the same time being aware that it is you examining them.
You, your awareness – consciousness is looking at them. This means that you are not them, but “something” outside, looking at them. Be aware of this thought for a while.
5. You will discover that one moment you might be thinking or feeling something, and the next moment another thought or feeling pops up. Ask yourself, who is it that is aware of the thoughts and the feelings. Focus on this question, without trying to analyze, think or discuss the matter.
6. Keep asking yourself this question every time you are aware of a thought passing through your mind.
7. The answer will come not through understanding, awareness, intuition, and inner realization, not in words, analysis, or verbal thinking.
8. After a few minutes of going through this process, start asking yourself the question, “who am I?”
9. Ask the question and wait for the answer, without trying to find it through thinking. Both question and answer have to be without words. This is possible if you focus on this process.
10. Gradually, as you continue with this meditation, the answer will become clear to you. It is an intuitive knowledge, which fills your being with absolute certainty.
11. Repeating this meditation will gradually calm your mind and enable you to control it. As your mind becomes calmer and more focused, you will become aware of the answer to this question. You will begin to experience a sense of inner peace and bliss. It is the beginning of the state of awareness called Cosmic Consciousness, Samadhi, Nirvana or Self-Realization.
12. In time, as you make progress, try to stop thinking and just “be”, just be fully immersed in the silence, calmness and consciousness you are experiencing.
When you arrive at this stage, stay aware of your real being, without identifying or following any thoughts, feelings or desires that try to attract your attention and occupy your mind.
The question “Who am I”, as a trigger for Self Realization and discovering the real “I”, was a method taught by Sri Ramana Maharshi, the great Sage of India.
Practice this meditation every day. You may begin with ten minutes a day, and gradually increase the time.
As you progress, the moments of blissful inner peace and silence will occur more frequently and increase in length.
One day, you might discover that this Consciousness has become your natural state of awareness, irrespective of where you are and what you are doing.