Excerpt: If you find yourself overwhelmed by something, you have become stuck in one small part of yourself, in one very limited narrative. You are forgetting the whole of your life and the whole of your being. You can think of all of the other times that you’ve faced something like that and overcame it or survived it. Remember that sense of strength and capability that you can face whatever life puts in front of you.
[There were many new people in the class this night so we spent 15 minutes doing self-introductions and getting to know each other.]
M: This state is available to you through meditation. In 20 or so minutes, we have come to this state of relaxation and calm. Be very gentle with yourself as you restore movement to your body and rise into a seated position.
There is an experience of guided meditation for those of you who are new to meditation. I invite you to share with me and everyone here whatever you’d like to – whatever experience you just had or any questions that you may have.
Q: What was that point you mentioned?
M: In Chinese, it’s called chi-hai. In Japanese, it’s kikai. Chi means life-force energy that is described in Traditional Chinese Medicine. The point is also called the Lower Dantian. It’s an energy center. It’s close to the midpoint of your body. The idea is that this is the first place that the egg was connected to the uterus of your mother. Through this point, all life-force entered into your body as it grew in the womb. After birth, of course, the proportions of your body changed. The energetic body (of life-force energy) still has this gate here. In Zen and other forms of meditation, like Qi Gong, you learn to concentrate here because it is the first fundamental point. So you may people sitting in meditation with the Universal Mudhra (one hand in the other with thumbs touching to form an ellipsis). Their hands are right over chi-hai. You learn to harness the chi and move it around your body.
Wherever your attention goes, your life-force energy follows, especially if you are in a meditative state. That’s why we did the exercise of moving the attention around the body. It’s also a way to treat health issues.
M: Did you resist the hypnotic effect of this meditation as you wish to?
Q: Well, yes and no. In meditation, I have often been experiencing a little loss of my awareness near the sleep line. I float near the line, but sometimes I lose control and fall into a more sleeplike state. I either continue to hear the voice in my head (inner dialog) or I’ve fallen asleep a little bit.
M: You are seeking to be lucid but not distracted, right? You can learn to do it.
Q: Yes, I feel progress in general.
M: You can find that state. I believe in you.
Q: I don’t know what just happened. I can relate to what she said about almost falling asleep. I could hear you speaking but I didn’t understand what you said. I don’t know if that’s good or bad.
M: I feel that it’s good, because what you are experiencing is a new state. Imagine the surface of water. Above the surface is your conscious mind. Below the surface is your unconscious mind or subconscious awareness. You are moving a little bit below the surface. You are still aware of this room and yourself, but you’ve come into a state of deeper relaxation. Over time you can learn to exist in both worlds. You can have a lucid awareness while experiencing subtler and more subconscious states of consciousness. You have just experienced yourself in a new way.
Q: I’m not sure if this is common, but when I try to meditate, I get itchy all over. I find it really distracting.
M: Does it happen consistently?
Q: Yes, I guess so. When I meditate, I become more aware of my body and its sensations.
Q: I felt that too. I tried to resist it but I finally just had to scratch that itch. It happened two more times after that.
M: Everybody experiences their own form of resistance. Resistance (to your inner work) is an inevitable, even necessary, part of your path. It’s like a weight that you learn to lift. Someone else would have a different weight to lift. For example, overwhelming feelings of sorrow when they meditate. They might experience chatterbox thoughts. I was a leading a meditation for some friends of mine and this woman, in the very first stages, experienced vivid visions of a bearded man speaking to her. It was really frightening. I have no idea! The point is that we all experience something that resists meditation and we have to learn to identify what it is, separate ourselves from it, and learn to manage it.
Q: What if you fall asleep?
M: Jon Kabbat-Zinn, whom I respect very much, said, “If you fall asleep while meditating, it’s because you’re tired.
Q: One moment I’m paying attention to my breathing and the next thing I know is I hear your words again and the bell at the end.
M: I’m sorry, but you were actually snoring!
[Laughter from the group.]
Q: The whole time?
Q: It was very relaxing. Was that OK though?
M: It’s very similar to what she [other student] was experiencing. You went from one state of consciousness in which you were awake. Then the meditation and everyone’s shared intention dropped you into a deeper state. But instead of hovering just below the surface, you went all the way down into sleep. So what we can learn to do in meditation is to navigate and hold ourselves between these states.
The issue is that we often hold ourselves awake with tension. If we try to focus, we tense up. But that’s not how to do it. You can become more concentrated only when release energy by relaxing. Then you can take that energy and put it toward your concentration. When you are concentrating on something, everything else will disappear.
Since this is one of your first experiences meditating, it’s just that you haven’t learned to find that muscle. With practice, you will. You will learn to keep from falling asleep. The other thing is that maybe you just needed some rest and relaxation.
Q: That’s very true.
Q: I found that the exercise of moving our attention from one part of our body to the next was very helpful. It so weird because I was only aware of that part and no others. I didn’t think I could do that.
M: Our awareness is really powerful. We can have much control over it than you’d think is possible.
M: In the last class that I taught, I mentioned something called “identification.” I want to read this passage on that. I don’t expect you to understand it immediately. I simply wish for you to become aware of this idea.
It must be understood that without outside help a man can never see himself. In order to know why this is so you must remember a great deal of what has been said earlier. As was said earlier, self-observation brings a man to the realization of the fact that he does not remember himself. Man’s inability to remember himself is one of the chief and most characteristic features of his being and the cause of everything else in him. The inability to remember oneself finds expression in many ways. A man does ‘not remember his decisions, he does not remember the promises he has made to himself, does not remember what he said or felt a month, a week, a day, or even an hour ago. He begins work of some kind and after a certain lapse of time he does not remember why he began it. It is especially in connection with work on oneself that this happens particularly often. A man can remember a promise given to another person only with the help of artificial associations, associations which have been educated into him, and they, in their turn, are connected with conceptions which are also artificially created of ‘honor,’ ‘honesty,’ ‘duty,’ and so on. But speaking in general, one can say truthfully that if a man remembers one thing he forgets ten other things which are much more important for him to remember. And a man particularly easily forgets what relates to himself, those ‘mental photographs’ of himself which perhaps he has previously taken .. “And this deprives man’s views and opinions of any stability and precision. A man does not remember what he has thought or what he has said; and he does not remember how he thought or how he spoke.
This in its turn is connected with one of the fundamental characteristics of man’s attitude towards himself and to an his surroundings. Namely, his constant ‘identification’ with what at a given moment has attracted his attention, his thoughts or his desires, and his imagination.
‘Identification’ is so common a quality that for purposes of observation it is difficult to separate it from everything else. Man is always in a state of identification, only the object of identification changes.
A man identifies with a small problem which confronts him and he completely forgets the great aims with which he began his work. He identifies with one thought and forgets other thoughts; he is identified with one feeling, with one mood, and forgets his own wider thoughts, emotions, and moods. In work on themselves people are so much identified with separate aims that they fail to see the wood for the trees. Two or three trees nearest to them represent for them the whole wood.
‘Identifying’ is one of our most terrible foes because it penetrates everywhere and deceives a man at the moment when it seems to him that he is struggling with it. It is especially difficult to free oneself from identifying because a man naturally becomes more easily identified with the things that interest him most, to which he gives his time, his work, and his attention. In order to free himself from identifying a man must be constantly on guard and be merciless with himself, that is, he must not be afraid of seeing all the subtle and hidden forms which identifying takes. It is necessary to see and to study identifying to its very roots in oneself.
- G.I. Gurdjieff quoted by P.D. Ouspensky in Chapter Eight of In Search of the Miraculous
M: If you find yourself overwhelmed by something, you have become stuck in one small part of yourself, in one very limited narrative. You are forgetting the whole of your life and the whole of your being. You can think of all of the other times that you’ve faced something like that and overcame it or survived it. Remember that sense of strength and capability that you can face whatever life puts in front of you.
That’s all the time we have. The light within me bows the light within you and within each and every thing. Namaste.