Originally posted by NewlyAwakened
Good question. Took me years of wading through nonsense and dogmatic ritual to finally realize what it is.
Observation. That's it.
Basically take all your thoughts, feelings, sensory perceptions, reactions, everything, and separate out an "observer" and you be that observer.
Observe the cause-and-effect conditioning of your behavior (situation -> feelings/instincts -> reaction) (example: talk with pretty girl -> get
nervous -> talk nonsense). This actually works best in real time (contrary to what you read), though usually you start by reflecting on the past.
Ideally we should be meditating every waking moment.
Make a point to do it as often as possible. You'll slowly learn a WHOLE lot about yourself. And quickly discover new abilities. I quit (almost)
every addiction, and the quitting stuck, only after I started meditating. All it took was observation of the feelings that led me to get a drink (for
example), and my automatic and basically unconscious conditioned reaction of actually getting the drink.
It does take a certain amount of humility at first. It's hard to accept that just about everything you do you do unconsciously. It seems pretty
counterintuitive at first. But once you experience what it's like to be fully consciously present in a type of situation in which you have normally
been unconscious, the difference is obvious.
Something I'd like to add that I didn't address, a stumbling block when I first started. Meditation (observing everything going on within you) is not
the same as self-analysis (assigning words to what's going on within you and thinking about it logically). Both have their place, but meditation is
much more powerful in terms of changing your bad habits, making you a better person, changing your life. Self-analysis at best can speed up this
process, but without meditation is actually worse than useless (because you are processing bad input).
Here's the important thing. The "observer" that I mentioned above does not speak. So, in the example above, when you are talking with the pretty
girl and getting nervous, the idea is not to think "now I am nervous." The idea is to bask in the nervousness
. The observer does not use
words. The observer can observe
words (when thoughts
are the object of scrutiny at the moment) but does not use them itself.
This can be tricky at first, which I think is why a lot of teachers like to teach beginners to focus on simple things like breathing. I suppose that
can get you in the habit of observing sensations
rather than thoughts, but (and I speak only for myself) I found it tedious and did not see the
merit of meditation until I started observing my emotions.
So the observation of the cause-and-effect conditioning in your psyche should not be in the form of an intellectual "this happens then this happens"
but should be a wordless understanding of how a feeling, sensation, thought, or action leads to another.
Words are secondary and come from training in language since childhood. Simple sensations and feelings are primary; language in fact is ultimately a
(highly conditioned/trained) derivative of these. So observe these, and you get to the root of matters. The power of sidestepping your language
faculties and going straight to your core cannot be overstated. Anybody who meditates will tell you this.
That's not to say a powerful intellect is useless. "Connecting the dots" after lots of self-observation can help quite a bit. But self-analysis
without actually being in touch with your primal center can lead to false conclusions (garbage in -> garbage out) and can make you even more neurotic,
as many smart people who say they "think too much" can attest.
But I feel I've already corrupted my ideas here with too much language. Too much babbling. Read my first post; it's a better one.
edit on 24-1-2011 by NewlyAwakened because: (no reason given)