Silent meditation has always played a central role on the spiritual path. By allowing us to step directly beyond the mind and ego, authentic meditation provides us with both a direct experience of the goal and context of spiritual life and an opportunity to ground our being in that ultimate context.
In its highest form, meditation is about disengaging entirely from the world of time, action, and becoming, and resting freely and effortlessly in the ground of Being, in Awareness itself. Given this goal of radical disengagement from the world, how then can we make our meditation more integral, and more related to the lives we are living? The answer is: by shifting the context in which we’re meditating. Are we meditating simply to find greater inner peace for ourselves? Or, are we meditating with the intention of liberating our consciousness in order to make ourselves available to fully participate in the further evolution of Life, Humanity, Consciousness, and even God? When we ground our meditation practice in a deeper, higher intention for practicing, we discover an unlimited source of energy and passion for our practice, and a previously invisible doorway to the Infinite.
In Integral Enlightenment Meditation, we always first ground ourselves in the deepest reasons for meditating. We do this by engaging in one of the Inquiry Practices to Prepare for Meditation.
Before each meditation session, spend 5-15 minutes engaging one of our preparatory practices. By reminding us why we are meditating in the first place, these practices help to clear away any ambivalence about practicing meditation, and also help to ground us in a clear and strong intention to give everything to our practice for the highest reasons.
These practices each take a different approach to the same goal: giving you a sustained experience of who you are beyond the mind. They can be practiced for any amount of time, but we recommend engaging them for anywhere from 20 minutes to one hour. You can practice them all day if you have the time for a self-retreat. But, due to the power of what can be unleashed by intensive practice, we don’t recommend all-day practice to beginners or those with psychological disorders. If you want to practice all day, we recommend taking at least a ten-minute break every hour.
For the entire period of the meditation, allow your experience to be exactly as it is. Don’t try to change anything on any level. Just allow everything to be, whatever it is. Notice how we are always trying to change our experience in some way. We’re trying to be more relaxed, trying not to be tense, trying to quiet the mind, trying to feel better. See this movement for what it is, and simply refuse to engage it. Resist the temptation to try to change anything at all. No matter what is occurring, just allow it to be. Leave everything alone. Even if there is immense inner struggle, or breathtaking inner bliss, just leave it alone; don’t try to make difficult feelings go away; don’t try to amplify or hold on to positive feelings. Allow them all and let them be.
One of the simplest ways to enter into profound meditation is to relax and pay attention at the same time. Usually, when we are deeply relaxed, we become less attentive. And the more attentive we become, the less relaxed we tend to be. In this practice, simply allow yourself to relax as deeply as possible. Relax your body, relax your mind, let go of any tension on any level of your being. At the same time, make the effort to be as awake and attentive as possible. It is not necessary or helpful to pay attention to anything in particular. Simply pay attention to attention itself. Pay attention to what it is to be awake, conscious, attentive. All the while, keep allowing yourself to relax more deeply. As with all of these practices, regardless of what enters into your awareness, simply leave it alone, and keep returning to the simplicity of the practice instructions.
In its essence, meditation is about discovering who you were prior to the existence of any thing. In this practice, allow the world in its entirety to fall away from you. Let everything go. Allow yourself to be completely alone, with no connection to anything that ever happened in time and space. Simply rest as the conscious presence that is unaffected by and uninvolved in the world. As thoughts of the past and concerns for the future float across your awareness, tempting you to engage with them, practice remaining untouched, unmoved by the swirl of time and becoming. Keep returning to the simplicity of being itself. Let go of everything. Abandon the world.
For the entire period of the meditation, place your attention on awareness itself. Normally we are aware of “things” that are arising within our awareness. We’re aware of objects. We’re aware of other people. We’re aware of our thoughts and feelings. But what is it to be aware of awareness itself? Consciously turn your attention away from all the “things” in consciousness and place it on consciousness itself—on the part of you that is aware. Keep turning your attention away from what is being perceived and experienced and place it on the one who is perceiving and experiencing, on the space in which that experience is occurring. Realize that from the point of view of consciousness itself, all experience is the same, and It is untouched by all the movements that take place within it.
Whatever happens in your inner world during the period of the meditation, don’t get involved with it. Often intense feelings arise, and we get pulled into either trying to make them go away, or trying to understand them. Similarly, intriguing thoughts, worries, problems to solve, and creative ideas can emerge in our awareness, and we feel compelled to engage with them. Do not get involved in any of it. No matter what occurs within you, or outside of you, leave it completely alone.
For the period of the meditation, don’t demand anything from your practice. Simply show up and be available for whatever occurs. We often engage in meditation because we want a specific result. We want to feel better. We want to clear our mind. We want some peace. Practice not wanting anything from your meditation. Approach your meditation as a giver, not a taker, with the following intention: “I’m here to give all of my attention to this practice. I don’t need it to give me anything back.” If bliss or peace does arise, don’t even cling to that. If discomfort arises, don’t want it to go away. Discover the liberation of wanting nothing at all.
There is a Great Perfection at the heart of the cosmos. An immaculate, untouched Ground of Being that includes and enfolds everything that happens in time. This Great Perfection needs nothing from life, nothing from the world to sustain its perfection. And it is the essence of who we are. In this practice, allow yourself to simply abide as the perfection that is already fully here. Simply allow your experience to be exactly what it is, and see how nothing you have experienced, nothing you are experiencing now, and nothing you will ever experience will in any way change that Great Perfection. Realize that your experience is irrelevant to that Perfection. And allow it to be irrelevant to you. Let everything that arises in consciousness simply arise and be whatever it is, let it do whatever it does, and make no attempt to change any of it. See that this Perfection interpenetrates everything and yet remains untouched by anything. Simply allow it to be.