Finding Inner Calm and Deeper Wisdom

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Archive for the ‘conscious quiescence’ Category

Fear of Being Alone

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Before we became human, we lived in trees. As we evolved, we lived in caves where we became more civilized, and we had fires to keep us warm. From way back then all the way until today, we lived in groups. We lived in families. A human living alone is more vulnerable to attacks from predators and other humans. The human psyche is programmed to want other humans nearby for comfort and protection. The fear of being alone can be considered normal and natural. But that doesn’t always make us happy.

When we are alone, whether by choice or otherwise, we must deal with the fear or discomfort that comes from somewhere deep inside our own mind. Long periods of solitary confinement are known to encourage mental illness. Thus, when we must be alone and suffer because of it, we need to develop an inner coping mechanism. We need to find a way to make ourselves feel better about being alone.

I have a method that works for me. It’s not especially easy to describe, but I’ll try. Also, I don’t understand fully why it works. But it does—for me.

I go into into my bedroom, shut the door, and darken the room. I lie down and get myself in a comfortable position. For me, this is usually lying on my side with a pillow under my head and often one between my knees. I may put something over my head to further reduce light and noise. I concentrate on relaxing my physical body as much as possible. I try to stop myself from thinking, usually by using my mind to “watch” my breath.

If I’m tired, I will fall asleep. But that’s not the objective. If I sleep, I will wake up and start over. The object is to be totally relaxed, both physically and mentally, all while being awake. When I finally get to that state, then I’m ready to go really deep. After being totally motionless for a while, I get the sensation that I can’t feel my legs and arms. Then at some point, I feel as though I can separate myself from my body. (This is also good for insulating myself from bodily pain.)

“Withdrawing from the body” is a distinct feeling that can have both scary and pleasant results. It might be scary at first, because in a way it’s like dying. But it’s also very pleasant because it separates me from the aches, pains, and fears of living in a human body. At this point, I’m really, really alone. There’s nobody else in there but me.

Voila! There’s my solution. By getting myself to be really, really alone, I get to experience the most extreme state of aloneness. Doing that, I’m saying to loneliness, go ahead, scare me as badly as you can.

Years ago, when I first did this, it scared the hell out of me. There are demons in there. Well, that forced me to befriend those demons. And that took a while, but I did it. There’s an old saying, “When you embrace your demons, they always leave you a gift.” That will also make you a better person. And more comfortable being alone with yourself.

Many of my readers are already familiar with this practice. We call it Zen.

“Ultra” Meditation

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This is a meditation technique I discovered on my own. It might have been discovered thousands of years ago and documented in some ancient text. But I’ve never heard of it (yet). If somebody has read about this, please let me know where.

renPlaya_2x2Here’s how it works: After I’ve slept a while and I’m well rested, I might drift into a kind of meditative state that takes me much deeper than usual. I never know when this is likely to happen. I’m lying in bed ready to resume sleeping, but I’m not sleepy yet. I put my body into a position where I have minimum or no stress on any joint, and I don’t have any limb resting on another. Usually this means lying on my side. It’s important to note that I have to be well rested when I do this.

As you may know, I don’t advise trying to meditate lying down and especially not in bed. The chief problem is you’re more likely to fall sleep. But if you’ve just slept and you feel rested, this may work for you.

Scan your body and locate any body part that is uncomfortable, and make whatever adjustment is necessary. Stop all thought and use the mind to watch your heartbeat and breathing. Eventually, the heart will slow down and the breathing will get shallow.

After a while, as I lie there in the meditative state, I gradually sink in to an ever greater, deeper Zen state. The feeling is like separating from my physical body. During that time, the body seems to sink into an insignificant puddle of inert matter lying in my bed. It is no longer “me.” I’m sure this is what some people call an out of body experience.

I have the feeling that optionally I could return to my body. Or, if I wanted, just not return. I get a peculiar feeling of exhiliarating power, in which I could continue on farther away from my body—or onward to the pure spiritual state if I wished—or else return to my body.

Thus far, I’ve always come back. But if I were to proceed, would it really work? Would I actually transition? I don’t know. Aside from that, I’ve always returned to a super peaceful and ethereal state of mind afterward.

Written by Eduardo Mitchell

November 2, 2018 at 11:47 pm

Who, Me? Asleep?

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Decades ago, I remember reading books by certain teachers and masters who asserted that I (and most people) are walking through life mostly asleep. That frustrated me, because I envisioned myself as a smart, alert person. What is it about my life that makes me “asleep?”

I recall a time when I once stood in front of a mirror and smacked myself in the face to see if that would have any effect. (It did not.)

Time went on, and I didn’t worry about it. I rarely thought about it. But all during that time I kept on with my meditation practice, which gave me a considerable amount of inner peace, steadiness, and balance—that I noticed most people around me didn’t have.

Years later, during one of my typical quiet early-morning meditations, my world was shaken by an enormous totally unexpected earth-shattering event. It seemed like a massive explosion near my house. Except it wasn’t. It was in my mind. It was an awakening, the likes of which I had never before imagined.

In one moment, I became separated from both my body and my mind—floating free in a dimensionless space. I was able to “see” like I had never imagined possible. I was able to view my body and my puny human mind as separate entities. Suddenly, I had vision and knowledge that is not possible in the ordinary human conscious state. There, for a brief few moments, I was awake.

In the minutes and hours after that meditation, I found that I could not recreate the type of vision I’d had. And I could recall only fragments of the knowledge I had experienced. At first I didn’t know if it had been a dream—or an actual experience. Which is why I began writing about it that same morning. I wanted to capture that experience in writing. And I wanted to prove to myself whether the experience was genuine or if I was losing my mind.

Several more “awakening” experiences happened to me during the next two years, which I faithfully recorded in my journal. One was an event where I discovered my self-nature, which among other things taught me who I am and what I am at the deepest level of my being, without the masks and delusions of my own conscious mind. That was powerful. And that made a big change in the way I live. Now, I’m sure I have a good idea what the masters meant when they wrote about sleepers.

One of my teachers, Osho, taught it this way: Silence is the space in which you can awaken. The noisy mind is the space where you will remain asleep. He’s right.

Written by Eduardo Mitchell

August 7, 2017 at 1:10 am

What is This Thing Called Wisdom?

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In the last post, we identified two parts in your mind, the Boss and the Thinker. The Boss is the higher you that you would like to have control your mind and body, at least occasionally. The Thinker, of course, is the noisy thinking machine—the conscious thought stream that wants to run your life non-stop.

In a typical modern western mind, the Thinker has taken over complete control, and the Boss is beaten into submission. These are actually like two different people—or two different beings inside you. It’s likely that you hardly know the Boss at all. You live entirely in your Thinker.

But if you’re even modestly successful with your inner development, you have separated and identified both of these inner beings. And you’ve had at least some success being in the Boss state and shutting down the Thinker. At least for a few precious moments now and then.

Shifting between these two states doesn’t mean you’re developing a multiple personality disorder. You’ve just become aware that you can “be” in different areas of your mind at any particular time. That’s actually very healthy, as I’m sure you’ll learn later on.

If you practice Zen meditation, maybe five or six times per week, and if you’re doing it right, over time you’ll learn to slip in and out of the Boss state with relative ease. Then you’ll widen the separation between the two states. You’ll learn how to be in your Boss mode whenever you want, which allows you to be an observer of the Thinker. First, you will learn to do it sitting on your meditation cushion. But later, you’ll be able to do it in a huge variety of other circumstances.

When you get really good, you’ll be able to jump into the Boss mode any time you want and watch the Thinker to see how it is performing. And here’s the real payoff: You (in the Boss mode/Zen state) will be able to coach the Thinker, especially when it’s under pressure, and give it guidance from a higher-level perspective. This is huge. This is an enormous advancement in your inner development.

There are hundreds of examples in everyday life. Here’s one: The lady looked at me with a scowl on her face, and said, “What did you do with all that money?” Uh oh. We’re under attack. My Thinker leaped into action and rapidly began formulating his defense. My Boss pulled on his imaginary reins and gently told the Thinker to relax. Slow down. Keep breathing. Allow the face to have a relaxed smile.

Then Boss gives Thinker some higher-level info it had sensed. Namely, the lady is exhibiting anxiety. She is worried about the new furniture she’s ordered, and she’s worried about how we’re going to pay for it. So relax. Let her speak her piece. But don’t be defensive. That’s not what she wants to hear.

Now the Thinker is more relaxed and having a short break to do its thing (namely, thinking). It responds calmly, “Honey, I used that money to pay off your credit card. The balance is zero, and you can use that card to buy your furniture. Now, would you like another cookie with your tea?”

Okay, that’s a silly example. But I could write a book full of such examples, some not so silly—where the higher level being inside me watches my noisy, short-sighted thinking machine, and coaches it in a variety situations.

Some people call that “wisdom.”

Written by Eduardo Mitchell

March 6, 2016 at 12:39 pm

Who’s The Boss?

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In that noisy jumble of thoughts and feelings we call our mind, who or what is actually in charge? Anybody? Anything?

StatueHere’s a simple way to think about it: When you meditate, one part of your mind is trying to control another part of your mind. The primary goal of Zen meditation is to stop the conscious mind from thinking. So, the part you want to be controlled is the conscious mind. We can call it the “Thinker.” The part trying to exercise control we can call the “Boss.” Thus, meditation is a state where you, the Boss, is trying to make you, the Thinker, stop thinking. At least for a little while. Make sense?

During the thousands of years people have pursued inner development and practiced meditation, what we’re calling the Boss has been given many names. I’m responsible for a couple of those names myself. For example, I used to call it the Higher You. Or the Higher Self. But I found those names were confusing to some people. And translating those terms to other languages was problematic. Since then, I’ve found that calling it the Boss is clear and simple. What’s more, “Boss” is a word understood in many languages.

So, here is what’s most important about this lesson: You must become aware that you can “be” in two places in your mind.* You can be in your Thinker, which means you’re busy thinking at the time. Or, you can be in your Boss, which means that higher level being inside you is in charge at the moment, and it’s not letting the Thinker control you.

When your Boss is in charge of your mind, you are in the Zen state.

*As your meditation practice continues, you’ll discover another one or two “places” you can be in your mind. Or perhaps slightly out of your mind.

Written by Eduardo Mitchell

February 26, 2016 at 1:01 pm

The Truth About You

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You are seeking some kind of change in yourself—a transformation—that will take your life to a higher place. I’m sure you’re a seeker, otherwise you wouldn’t want to read what I write. Seeking that kind of inner growth is also true of me. That’s why I’ve been a seeker for more than a half century. My discoveries compel me to pass it along to others who want to know, which is the reason for this blog.

Now, here’s an awful truth that might pertain to you: Until you have gone deep enough inside yourself to discover your self-nature, you will remain unenlightened. This is what teachers and masters of inner development have been telling us for thousands of years. And they’re right, of course.

In case you haven’t learned already, your self-nature is who you are and what you are at the deepest level of your being and without the masks and delusions created by your conscious mind.

This may be the shortest posting I’ve ever made to this blog. Because that’s all I have to say about this subject—today. Except this:

Sit still for a while, relax, close your eyes, breathe deeply, and don’t think. Have a nice day.

Who’s In There With You?

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When you’re alone—and I mean really alone—you may discover there’s another “person” inside yourself besides you. For me, that was one of the most interesting, somewhat scary discoveries I made as a Zen practitioner.

This is actually a very simple and basic discovery of inner development. When you are practicing meditation, the chief object (especially while you are first learning) is to quiet the conscious mind. As I’ve already told you at least a hundred times in this blog, you must stop the flow of thoughts in order to reach the Zen state.

So what you learn how to do is tell the conscious thinking mind to be quiet and stop thinking. Right? Let me say that again with different words. “You” must stop your thinking machine and make it be still.

So, who is “you,” and who is the thinking machine?

The answer is this: There are two entities, two parts of you working with each other (or perhaps working against each other). Down through thousands of years, teachers and gurus have called them by so many different names that I can’t recall them all. My preference is to just call them the conscious mind and the higher self—chiefly because that is how I’ve experienced them.

In an untrained person the conscious mind is always in control. In a somewhat successful Zen practitioner the higher self of that person is often in control, and the higher self often directs or leads the conscious mind.

Thus when you’re practicing, what’s really happening is the higher self is training the conscious mind to behave. And the more you practice, the more you realize these are two separate beings inside you, each having different attitudes, values, and goals. You’re also likely to learn the higher self is wiser in many respects than the lowly conscious mind. The chief reason is the higher self is close to and part of the human spirit, which contains a higher form of knowledge than your conscious mind has ever known.

When you are able—after much consistent, faithful practice—your higher self will influence your conscious mind more and more. Voila! You are beginning to receive true spiritual wisdom and it is becoming a part of your life. Soon you’ll be experiencing life on a higher plane than you did before.

Okay, you won’t be able to walk on water yet. But you’ll surely live in a way that brings you more peace, joy, and satisfaction than before.

I guarantee it.

Written by Eduardo Mitchell

November 12, 2015 at 3:28 pm

Uh Oh, Where’s My Body?

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This morning a humorous situation happened to me. I had an early supine meditation that was deeper than usual. I can do supine only in the morning when I’m thoroughly rested; otherwise I fall asleep. It was so peaceful that I wanted to come out very slowly. Then for some reason I stopped right on the edge, just before the conscious mind goes active.

HapiWithSignIn case you’re interested, that state of mind has a name: hypnagogia. It’s that state of mind where you sometimes have a flash of brilliance or one of those eureka moments of discovery. It works because the conscious mind is quieted, and you’re listening to parts of the brain you normally can’t hear. And it usually lasts only a moment or two.

Unless memory fails me, today was the first time in my life I was able to stop right there—on the border between the Zen state and being awake—and then stay there for a while. Believe me, it is a magical place. But then, I had a short moment of anxiety when I realized I couldn’t feel any connection to my body.

What an incredible feeling that was! I became aware that “I” (whoever that is) was floating in a warm comfortable place without a body. I was awake and aware of being, but not aware of my physical body, and of course not thinking. Somewhere nearby, I could feel the urge of my conscious mind to start thinking. I sent a message telling it to relax.

Now, hours later sitting here at my computer, I can think about the experience and write about it. But at that time I was only noticing, not thinking. One of the first things I noticed was the sublime joy and peace of being without any connection to the physical world. At one point my silly conscious mind blurted, “Are we dead?” which, as I remember, made me want to chuckle.

In a while, the conscious mind’s question came more into focus. Was I dead? I widened my noticing to see if I could pick up anything. Voila, I felt my heart beating. Ahah! My body is still alive. Then I noticed the pulsation of blood pressure radiating out from my heart, especially coming up into my head. I was feeling the carotid artery. But as far as muscles were concerned, they were all asleep.

Then I noticed pulsations of heartbeat in my fingertips. But I did not feel any sensation coming back from my feet. Maybe that’s because the feet are so much farther away. Oh, and then I noticed the slight rise and fall of my chest. Something was making me breathe and my heart beat, but I couldn’t detect the source. My meditative state wasn’t deep enough to reach the autonomic nervous system. I’ve read that some masters can do that.

Soon I began to feel the meditative state slipping away from me. Alas, I would have to go back to life in the real world. And sure enough, my conscious mind leaped into action and started planning how I was going to write this piece. But before I moved—while I was still physically inert—I took the time to relish those last few moments of peace and relaxation.

What I experienced today might be a little preview of what it’s like when the body dies. I discovered the human spirit can be at peace when it departs the body. There’s nothing to fear.

Getting Older Makes Me More Spiritual

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Why is that? It’s not something I’m necessarily trying to do—it just seems to be a natural progression. Apparently, there’s some part of me that must know my spirit is getting closer to departing from my body. Of course, I don’t know when that departure will be; perhaps I’m too healthy to worry about that.

It’s Sunday morning as I write this. This is a day when I usually get to think more—and think deeper—about what my life is about and why I’m here. I get to sleep late on Sundays, and I’m usually a lot more relaxed than other days. That’s mostly because I don’t have to get out of bed and go off to some church so I can go through all the motions of worshiping imaginary deities—or demonstrating to other people that I’m worshiping. I declared myself free from all that long ago.

Thus, I have more time and opportunity than almost everybody I know to go within. And if there is truly a “god,” that is where it is to be found.

Alas, I digress. So why does getting older make me more spiritual? Part of the answer may be that, as I age, I notice my body breaking down more and more. Muscles and joints ache more, I’m weaker and have less stamina, my memory isn’t as good as it was, and I need more rest. At my age and the present rate of decline, how many years do I have left? I’m seventy-five and every day I read about people much younger than me dropping left and right.

My body is shoving its mortality right in my face. I can see the time coming when this old body will no longer be capable of hosting its spiritual being. One of my reactions to that is the realization that my mind is voluntarily withdrawing from the physical world—albeit at a slow and comfortable pace. Thus, I’m living more and more on the inside. On the deep inside. Living in the Zen state. Which I also know as the spiritual state.

To be frank, it feels pretty damn good.

What is “Mindfulness Meditation?”

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These days we hear a lot about mindfulness meditation. But do you really know what that means? You may have noticed that I never use that term. At best, that terminology is off-target. I’ve tried several times to see if there’s something I’ve missed. But each time I read what various people have to say about it, I come up with muddled meanings and unclear ideas. That doesn’t satisfy me. I want straight answers with clear meanings.

If the teachers who promote mindfulness mean awareness of the mind and what the mind is doing, then I agree in principle. Although, that may also lead many students away from self-development aimed at attaining the true meditative state. Yes, you need to be aware of what your mind is doing, but you also need to train it to be still.

But just being aware of your mind—and, for example, knowing that it’s worrying about your income taxes or changing the oil in your car—is not enough. That will not bring you to the true meditative state. In addition to being mindful, you must also train the conscious mind to be still. You must empty your mind of all thought. You must be wide awake, fully aware, and have an empty mind. That is the true meditative state. That is the Zen state.

Yes, becoming mindful—that is, aware of what your mind is doing—is indeed a necessary step toward learning meditation. But it is not the meditative state. Thus, teaching “mindfulness meditation” might be a disservice to many students.

Go see for yourself. The way of the empty mind is the primary teaching of Buddha, Bodhidharma, the recently departed Osho, and other enlightened masters. You’ll find a synopsis of their teachings in my ebook, Original Zen, on


Written by Eduardo Mitchell

August 18, 2014 at 6:52 pm