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Since establishing a more steady, simple and secure life here in Phuket, I have gradually come back to a more formal seated meditation practice. An hour and a half each morning and evening, revisiting the methods I have practiced in the past and exploring new ways of sitting and concentrating.

Tratak (candle gazing), holding the image of my master in my mind, Japa (internal chanting), mindfulness (maintaining awareness upon each arising object whilst unleashing the mind to flow) and self enquiry (exploring and holding the ‘I’ thought), have been some of the practices that I have sat with these last few weeks.

What I have found is that each of these methods bring their own flurry of mental experiences, triggered by our association with the meditation objects. We receive insights and realization that we could talk for hours on, and one is often advised not to speak of one’s experiences. This advice, I feel, is for the sake of not creating more grooves, perceptions and identifications in one’s mind after working so hard to realise, detach from and flush out the old ones.

Beyond our insights and experiences in meditation, what I feel is the basic and fundamental essence of what is unfolding as we practice, is simply that the mind is moving towards greater concentration, steadiness, sharpness, clarity and awareness.

We are simply cultivating through practice, a whip sharp attentive mind and a deep presence that is steady and clear enough to know what is true and increasingly what is illusory.

One’s illusory self flashes by one after another, like a rapidly spinning show reel. There is no need to go to the cinema…there is plenty to be seen and entertained by within yourself….all manner of genre exists inside, ready for you to watch.

With this strengthened and polished mind, we can look upon all of our moment to moment experiences from this clearer vantage point, from gross physical objects in the waking state to the subtlest subconscious thoughts and dream state, to even perceive the unconscious state for what it really is (simply absence of thought, time and space).

With a sharper present mind, our subtlest perceptions, veils and shadows that cast over our true heart can be seen and revealed. The content of them matters not. Our minds try to take hold of and make something of the revelations, heightening ourselves in some way, and becoming experts, but if we really see clearly this reaction, we know our new ideas also need to be given up in order to remain on track in our practice, that is, to simply continue in concentration.

Everything comes with concentration.

Yoga is concentration, as Vivekanada translates from the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, the yogi’s bible to liberation:

Sutra 1, Chapter 1:
‘Atha yoganushasanam’,
‘Now concentration (Yoga) is explained’.

What is clearly perceived, can be easily released. Presence and awareness doesn’t even need to ‘try’ to let go of it, as automatically when it is seen, it becomes the object and we are no longer subjected by it.

Freedom is your natural state. There is no trying to be free when it finally comes down to it.

Just sit, even if its for 5 minutes a day….pick an object of purity and love and practice looking deeply upon that object with the intention not to waver… it doesn’t matter if you do, it is only your intention that matters. All will come.

And remember, concentration is concentration. No need for fancy thoughts or heightened spiritual ideals. There is no escaping, bypassing or philosophizing your way pass the practice. Just as the body needs to be kept healthy to sustain you physically, so does the mind need to be kept healthy to reflect to you clearly…

…the truth of who you are.

Much love and blessings.

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