“Answer” is the reaction or resulting information provided or acquired to a question, situation or a statement. The end result of the acquisition of knowledge. For the student of meditation it is the end result of questions (answers) that become the focus of their observation.
You have heard it, said it, desired it… Seems we share this behavior, not only individually but as groups, governments, organizations, teachers, students etc.; we want an answer. We want, need, demand, expect, look for, like to get an answer and so on. Sometimes we accept it; often, as students, we question the answer, usually for good reason or to gain more knowledge. We are given the wrong answers, the true answer, the manipulative answers and, of course, the loving ones, as well as many other answers.
The student of observation (through meditation) brings something else to the answers that are given or displayed before them. They add an awareness of the limitations of the answers the people of the world are providing, as to who and what we are, “why we are here” as many say, and what’s really going on in the midst of this thing we call creation or all that is.
The stranger approached the teacher and said “who and what are you?” The teacher said “to the best of my awareness, a human being.” “Well, that’s not an answer, what do you do? What is your name? Where are you from? What is your religion?” Lovingly, the teacher responded, “like you, the people of the world, societies, and families and friends, have defined us by tangible observation, which is subject to change. Everything you ask of me to identify myself are more or less things which are all subject to change. You may identify me by your list, but human being answers your questions best, leaving an awareness of unlimited possibilities of what you and I truly are. Namaste”.
A meditation, try it out here and there, when and if it comes to your mind or not. You can, of course, practice meditation purposefully with intention or without intention. Bring your awareness to moments you answer something or when something is answered for you. Be aware if judgements or mental fantasies arise. It’s okay. Just acknowledge them and continue. Bring your attention to whether the answer limits your thinking of that of the listener. For instance, “the universe is big” compared to “the universe consists of billions and billions of galaxies and its’ very existence appears to be beyond (appears to be) human comprehension and that’s okay.” One answer limits, one answer opens us to limitless understanding, including our awareness of our presence and consciousness in the existence of all that is.
It’s a new day. Your day!
“Question” defined is a group of words formed together to gain information or answers. We question for many reasons; to gain knowledge, to validate a statement or situation, to seek truth and understanding. Questioning is an apparent essential to further the development of humankind. Most often a positive act but sometimes considered a negative. Positive, for instance, if it results in the betterment of a situation or humanity. Deemed negative, if the questioning is used to belittle someone or damage, manipulate, lie, etc.
Many people have little to question, either due to the fact that they have great knowledge or they do not want to appear unintelligent. Situations or thinking which prevent questioning can be stifling. Be aware when you do not question because you think you have all the answers. This behavior can bring an end to knowledge and wisdom. Of course, don’t hold back because you don’t want to appear “stupid” as some say. This behavior stunts growth in personal education as well as human and spiritual growth, if that’s where you’re headed.
We question to “get the facts,” call out a false truth, to learn, educate, find solutions; sometime to insult and tease, to test loyalty, etc. The student of meditation is aware of when they themselves question. The pupil adds something, an observation on the very behavior itself.
The students sat in the grass quietly listening to the lesson of the day. One asked of another “why does the teacher take such a round-about way to get to the point.” Distracted by their own question the student became preoccupied with mental thoughts and lost focus on the content of the teachings. As class ended many students approached the instructor with thankfulness and bowed heads, rejoicing over the guidance and knowledge received. Bewildered, the questioning student asked their friend “What did I miss?” Their friend replied, “There are times for questions and times for silent observation. Learn that and you haven’t missed anything”. The student responded, “Nameste.”
A meditation, try it out here and there, when it comes to mind, or not. Focus your attention as you would when meditating. Bring to mind something you have questioned or do question. For a moment observe how things may have gone if you had simply observed, then be present as your mind answers that thought on its own. Be aware if you get pulled into a bunch of thinking or mental movies while you’re practicing this meditation. Return to the object of focus when necessary and start the meditation again. Practices such as these can be challenging, especially when you’re allowing yourself to think on something while being aware of the pull of obsessive thinking. You can do it.
It’s a new day. Your day.
Separation refers to the dividing of one thing from another or numerous things from numerous things. You may think of it as an instance or a moment when this separates from that or the separation of objects, people, societies, etc. Separation may also refer to a process or method in which something whole is converted into two or more distinct materials. We separate from each other, our jobs, negativity, positivity, etc. The student of meditation takes on practices which separate themselves from the repetitive, often overwhelming functions of their conditioned, programmed minds.
The teacher sat quietly observing the functions of their mind as they quieted themselves, preparing for their next lesson. As they sat there still (meditating), a vision of themselves as the mentor came to mind. They saw themselves in their mind giving the lesson of the day. For a moment they acknowledged that part of them was observing the thinking as separate from the part of them doing the thinking. That acknowledgement, that awareness of the observing-self separate from the thinking mind is a result of meditation. Conscious awareness. Meditation sets the stage for the separation of our true selves from the independent, repetitive workings of our minds. It is through this separation that true presence is experienced, which includes awareness of the separateness of our true being from the workings of our minds.
A meditation on separation, try it out here and there, if and when it comes to mind, or not. As you practice (focusing your attention on something while you observe the stream of thought) bring your awareness to the separation of your observing presence from the stream of thought. For example, you may say to yourself “I am aware of that part of me which is observing the thought stream and I am aware as that part of me (my conscious being) separates from the stream. I am allowing the stream without interference, judgment, etc. and aware of any interference, if it comes. Conscious of the separation of being and thought.”
It’s a new day. Your day!
Ego refers to that part of us from which we derive our sense of self-worth or importance. For most, ego plays a major part in how we identify ourselves. It is that part of you that you use to separate yourself from others; for example, “I am better” or “I am worse.” It is an individual thing, yet also a collective form of identification. Entire entities, organizations, political and religious groups, even countries and nations fall into the ego mind-set; sometimes resulting in great accomplishment, sometimes disaster. Many a war and negative situation have been waged as a result of ego; while at the same time, many people have been rescued from horrid situations as a result of the ego-driven desire to prove a point or to be observed as better than others. For the student of meditation, once identified, one’s ego can become a powerful source of understanding and a tool which can be used to strengthen oneself in times of need.
Early on in their studies, the student of meditation learns to identify the characteristics of their own ego. As they see their own ego it becomes easy to recognize it in others, which allows a deepening presence of understanding, forgiveness and love when dealing with their fellow humans. That said, the benefits of ego identification for the student are powerful. Through meditation practices one learns to identify the mental mind-made motivation behind their egotistical behaviors. As with so many things, the mere act of bringing these thoughts and behaviors to conscious awareness alleviates their hold on the practitioner and greater stillness and peace are achieved.
Over time and with practice the student learns to use their ego as a tool to help motivate them in certain situations without falling into its trap of self-identification. For instance, one may use ego to help complete a task, or to motivate them to take better care of themselves. As a teacher, using an individual’s ego to motivate them towards conscious behaviors can be very useful in the early parts of meditation education. As with many aspects of our personality, ego is to be understood, brought to conscious awareness and even nurtured and loved.
A meditation, try it out, here and there, when it comes to mind, or not. While meditating (focused attention while observing thought) bring your attention to ego-driven thoughts or thinking. Be aware if you interfere with the observation with judgements or accolades and return to observing. See if you can identify ego-driven thoughts of self-identification. Be aware if you create conflict with the thinking and try to simply observe. As with the majority of meditation practices, simple non-judgmental awareness of thought and behavior brings such things to conscious awareness and meaningful lasting change comes effortlessly.
It’s a new day.
Repetition; defined it is the act of doing something again, whether it is something in text, verbal, or in action. Many things around us are in a constant state of repetition, the cycle of life and death, songs in our head, the patterns of weather, the formation of galaxies etc. We often repeat things to ourselves in order to remember them or to change our behaviors. We repeat many things in education as we try to learn and teach. Even food may be referred to as “repeating,” as when a meal doesn’t settle well in our stomachs. The student of meditation brings their awareness to the repetitive workings of their minds as they proceed on the path of conscious awareness.
Just as there are repetitive patterns and cycles in nature, the universe, all that exist; the student is aware of the mental patterns in their minds and behaviors that repeat. You’re aware of it, you have heard it, said it: “Oh, I have been here before,” “I’ve heard that before,” “I felt this before,” etc. We are aware of thinking and emotional reactions to said thinking, which repeats, taking us down the same journey of mental patterns and behaviors. The student is aware as repetitive patterns of thinking provoke a mental and/or physical reaction which is quite familiar. Some pleasant, some they identify as negative; nevertheless, aware of the repetitive workings of their minds.
The majority of us do it throughout our lives, repeating stories and mental movies in our minds, some decades old, which provoke a certain response in us that often brings up feelings of comfort or despair. They are a repetitive trap of our thinking which leads to past or future thoughts that interfere with our present levels of conscious awareness. That interferes with the quality of our lives. It’s ok, or it’s not. The difference for the student of meditation is their awareness of the repetitive workings of their minds. That awareness, that acknowledgement, of the repetitive actions of the thought-stream changes everything. The change is that there is less repetition of thought patterns that pull them from peace, love and joy.
A meditation, try it out here and there, when it comes to mind, or not. When practicing some meditation (see “Let’s Meditate” at www.wakingupwithpatrick.com) be aware when thoughts come to mind which have been repeated in your head. Tune into the emotions they provoke. Perhaps you’ll feel good, bad or indifferent. Whatever. The plan would be not to interfere, merely observe. Be aware if you judge or have conflict with the repetitive thought. Aware if you interfere with the observation. Aware, yet separate. Often times bringing the repetitive thoughts to conscious awareness is all you need to do to quiet them.
It’s a new day! Your day!
The act of observing: to look upon another human, an object, a situation, etc. Some people observe to gain knowledge of something or someone. Some also observe to draw conclusions and understanding in order to make decisions about situations. Some of us are thought of as having “great powers of observation,” in-tune, aware, present, etc. Many an observation may be wrought with confusion or misinterpretation of a situation, depending on the conscious presence of the observer. For example, when one observes from prejudice, ignorance, judgement, etc., the resulting conclusion may often be in conflict with peace, love and joy. Some students of meditation spend time observing, their practices include awareness of any mental responses to their observation.
The student sat quietly on the ground, close enough to observe, yet distant enough to separate from the goings-on around them. There were many people in their view, some in intimate conversation and others preoccupied with the task before them. The student was aware of a faint unidentifiable smell of smoke in the air and the sensation of a quiet breeze blowing across their skin. Silent, still they tuned into sounds of chattering birds feeding on some seed-laden grasses. Conscious, still aware of the emotional vibe of those around them; calm, yet excited, joyful and loving. Then bringing their attention to their own serenity in the moment, their state of observation, they sighed and felt peace beyond words, beyond understanding. Through unanswerable, unquestionable, non-judgmental, observation, presence was felt.
A meditation, try it out here and there, now and then, when it comes to your mind, or not. Focus your attention on your breath, simply breathe in and out; count the breaths if it helps. While you’re breathing bring part of your attention to the things going on around you. You may say to yourself, “I am observing the sensations in my body,” “I am observing the sounds in the room.” Similar to saying “aware” yet slightly different. Aware is when things come to mind, observing is purposefully making yourself aware of something. As with an awareness meditation, be conscious if and when your mind interferes, then observe that happening to you. Observe from a place of no thought. If you cannot, practice until you can.
It’s a new day.
Stress in humans is a physical and/or emotional response by the body and mind to outside stimuli or internal mental thinking, resulting in the release of chemicals into the bloodstream. While its causes may vary, it is often thought of as the reaction to negative situations, although even seemingly positive moments or happenings can trigger it. For example, the excitement over a coming event, though a wonderful happening, may cause much stress over anticipation of the inevitable moment.
There is physical stress, for instance, the force of one object on another or the impact of exercise or exertion on the body. You can be stressed-out, over-stressed, under stress, the cause of stress, etc. For the student of meditation, mental stress is often the focus of study.
The student sat in a moment of quiet observation of the thoughts going through their mind. They were not thinking, rather watching the thoughts as they passed through their mind. They focused their awareness on the emotional impact provoked by some of the thoughts. The thoughts were random, some of the past, some of the future. Occasionally their mind focused on the moment and presence was felt, consciously aware of the act of meditation in the moment as they observed the stream of thought. Many of the thoughts provoked feelings of joy, some doubt, others provoked feelings of stress and anxiety. As the student came out of the stillness they were well aware of the emotional, as well as, the physical impact the thoughts had on them. Aware of the joy and anxiety caused by the stream of thought, which was happening in their mind, not purposeful thinking.
A meditation, try it out here or there, when it comes to your mind, or not. Focus your attention on something, then, like the student, bring your attention to the thoughts, if any, that make you feel stressful, even the slightest amount. Acknowledge to yourself how the unintentional thought that flowed through your mind brought you distress. Understand the thought provoked the stress; you did not “choose” it; you mentally moved in the direction of the thought and felt distress. Observe how the thoughts triggered the negative feelings. You are not the stream of thought, no more than you are the results of its actions.
It’s a new day.