Who Are You, and What Are You?

What Is Your Real Purpose in Life?

How I Go To Sleep

leave a comment »

SleepingGirl

So many people have difficulty getting good sleep. I’m astounded at the huge industry of sleeping pills and other aids. I’ve never used sleeping pills in my entire life. You might think I’m just lucky. But there’s a little more to it than that.

Typically, when I go to bed at night or take an afternoon nap, I fall asleep in about ten or fifteen seconds. People have asked me how I do that. So for the last few nights, I “watched” myself during the process just so I could describe it.

Oh by the way, a short answer to that question is: Many decades of regular meditation practice and training my mind. But a thorough answer takes a few more words.

When I’m headed for bed, I usually start my mental “falling asleep” process well before I actually hit the sheets. I might be brushing my teeth or taking my clothes off, but I’m winding down the thinking machine. I’m telling myself, “Okay, now is not the time to be worrying about things. Let’s slow the mind down. Just quit thinking.”

That is the first part of my secret: actually preparing the mind for sleep well before bedtime. Maybe it’s the decades of self-training kicking in, but as I slow the mind down, I can sense the heavy feelings of tiredness, fatigue, and low energy flowing downward into my whole body. Thus, with my thinking mind very near to stopping and the body already aching for rest, I’m close to falling asleep by the time I slip into the sheets.

Settling into bed, I’m letting my body find the most comfortable position for sleep. For me, this is already a well-practiced position that minimizes pain and suffering from my old body and a few old injuries. Everybody needs to know his own body and how it can best be positioned to minimize aches and pains. So, unless I’m dealing with  unusual bodily stress, getting myself positioned for dropping off to sleep takes me only a couple of seconds.

And now, it’s time for my “mini-meditation” that I use for going to sleep. Once again, this is where the many years of meditation practice pay off. My mind does a relaxation scan in one or two seconds, and I can feel my body going limp from top to bottom. At this point, the world around me is beginning to disappear. Sleep is near.

Now I focus my remaining consciousness on watching my breath and my heartbeat. The breath is already slow and relaxed, and now it is gradually slowing even more. I can feel my heart beating in my chest, and I also notice it in my fingertips and my temples. The heart rate is also slowing, and I can detect a lower blood pressures. And that is usually the last thing I’m aware of. I am asleep. It is a deep dreamless sleep.

Written by Eduardo Mitchell

September 14, 2017 at 11:31 am

Who, Me? Asleep?

leave a comment »

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

Torment of the Mind

leave a comment »

Almost everybody I know suffers from an overactive mind. They tell me they can’t sleep, can’t concentrate, and never get any real rest from all the stuff they worry about. Yes, I know the problem.

More accurately, I knew the problem all too well–until I learned a certain skill. Decades later, I wrote a book about it. To me, it’s the most important knowledge I’ve gained since I was born. But judging from the apparent popularity, it’s the most boring subject in modern civilization.

If it’s not too boring, read some more about ending your torment: Original Zen.

Written by Eduardo Mitchell

July 2, 2017 at 11:59 am

Original Zen Now in Paperback

leave a comment »

It took me a year, but now it’s active and available on amazon. For several years, folks have urged me to put the Original Zen ebook into ink-on-paper. So this was my very first effort at turning an ebook into something that doesn’t require electricity or batteries. Of course, the ebook version is still available.

During this work, I revised and updated the ebook (from its original Sept 2013 version), adding a couple of chapters and some additional words and clarifications about things that weren’t clear enough to some readers. I introduced the notion of using mindfulness meditation as a stepping stone into the Zen state.

The first two paperback copies from amazon just arrived (only two days after ordering), and I’m very pleased with the result. It’s a 6×9 inch quality trade paperback with a full-color cover and 160 pages. At the back is a glossary of terms that might be useful to a new student. Right now the price is only $13, which in the future might have to go up a bit.

Click into Original Zen on amazon and take a look. Your feedback and comments will be greatly appreciated.

Written by Eduardo Mitchell

June 10, 2017 at 1:30 pm

The Value of Aloneness

leave a comment »

Being alone can result in one of two states of mind: either loneliness or aloneness. The first is being alone and not happy about it. The second is being alone and liking it.

lonelygirl01I spent many of my younger years trying to avoid loneliness. And hating every minute I was lonely. I did all the typical things people do to avoid being alone. I scheduled my life so I’d be busy all the time. If I found myself alone for some reason, I’d make sure there were several radios and televisions making noise to keep my mind occupied. And during that time, I had no inkling of what aloneness was all about.

Then something happened way back when: I heard a song on the radio that reminded me that we all die alone. I know from stuff I learned in collidge that the human body dies from the outside in. That is, we lose contact with our sensory organs and our physical body while our mind is still functioning. So, that means my whole body will shut down and essentially be “dead” while I’m still alive somewhere deep in my brain. I imagined that could be utterly terrifying.

Then, a few decades ago and with the help of a teacher I know, I began deliberately changing my attitude about being alone. I began to appreciate aloneness. And that was about the same time I began loving myself a bit more than I had earlier in life. Looking back, this worked out very well with Zen meditation, and it really did enhance my practice.

In certain ways, aloneness and meditation are the same things. And in other perspectives, they are complementary and work well together.

Simply put, being alone with yourself and observing your mind is known as Mindfulness meditation. Being alone with yourself and not thinking is Zen meditation. I like to do both, sometimes alternating one with the other.

Now that I’m getting into my senior years, my meditations are sometimes very deep and I lose contact with my body for a while. In case I’ve never told you, that is a great experience. And not terrifying at all. For me, there’s not a shred of fear about the possibility of not “waking up.” I would just go on through the Window and see what happens next.

Let’s get back to the point of this blog. Aloneness is good. Start switching the gears in your mind to be more appreciative of aloneness. Even to the point of seeking it and planning for it. You don’t need the radios and TVs playing all the time. You don’t need somebody there for you all the time. And you don’t have to be “bored” by silence. You can learn to be comfortable and at ease being alone all by yourself. Just being with yourself.

Aloneness is a state that can be comforting and nourishing. It creates an atmosphere conducive to inner growth and self-development. It can also provide an opportunity for healing from the daily slings and arrows.

Written by Eduardo Mitchell

February 20, 2017 at 8:20 am

Get Ready to Jump

leave a comment »

One of the nicest parts of becoming a spiritually aware person is a big change in attitude about “dying.” And by spiritually aware, I mean becoming aware of one’s spiritual being. (And as you should know by now, this does not entail any kind of religious belief.)

A person who spends enough time focused inward in search of his own self-nature, ultimately discovers an inner being known as the human spirit. That discovery is a significant step toward Enlightenment. It has a huge, life-changing effect on everyone who experiences it.

Stated simply, the human spirit is an energy form that cannot be destroyed. When the human body can no longer host its spiritual being (that it, the body “dies”), the spirit returns to its previous, non-physical, purely spiritual state. I like to think of it as a jump. When my body “gives up the ghost,” as it’s been called for millennia, I will make the jump back into the pure spiritual state. If you want to know why I’m so sure about that, ask me some time.

A well-spent life is one where a person spends sufficient time and energy in preparation for the jump. Part of that preparation is making a few practice jumps—something that can happen in a deep meditative state. Once you pass through the so-called Window of Light (and come back again), you’ll never be the same again.

Written by Eduardo Mitchell

October 30, 2016 at 7:55 pm

Want to Meditate? But Can’t?

leave a comment »

You’re not alone. Some of the best teachers and coaches have reported that only about 2% of people in Western countries can reach the true meditative state. In other words, they are people who cannot stop the flow of thought in their conscious mind. Are you one of them? Is your mind out of control? If so, what can you do?

Most importantly: Don’t give up. To borrow a tactic from sports, drop back twenty yards and do something different.

Stopping your mind from thinking requires control. But most people don’t have that control. So, instead of trying to control your mind, just become an observer of your thoughts. Use your meditation time to simply watch the stream of thoughts as they pass through your mind. Just relax and notice them.

During that time, you can make mental notes to yourself about what you’re seeing. Later, you can analyze them. As a result, you will learn a lot about the kind of mind you have. And that will let you manage your mind (and your life) a lot better. It’ll soon become obvious to you what you must do to slow down that torrent of thought.

If you sit five or six times per week (which, I’d say, is the minimum for any serious student), you will gradually develop and recognize—within yourself—a separate part of your mind you can call the Observer. You can be “in your Observer” some of the time and “in your Thinker” at other times. Then, any time you’re on your cushion, you can jump out of the Thinker and into your Observer—and back again. Naturally, when you’re sitting, you’ll want to spend most of your time in the Observer.

As time goes on, you may recognize the Thinker and the Observer as two different beings inside you. I chuckle because some of my shrink friends say that creates a split personality. Well, yes it does, but in this case it’s a very good and healthy way to separate what goes on in your mind.

For a few months or more, the Observer may be a bit weak. At times he might even be overcome and pushed to the background by the Thinker. But with consistent practice, the Observer will be available to you any time you need him. Even when you’re not sitting on your cushion. At some later date, your Observer may get strong and agile enough so that you’ll want to rename him—as Boss.

When you find that you can jump into Observer mode at will and at any time, that means you have made enormous progress. Congratulations! You are practicing Mindfulness Meditation.

Written by Eduardo Mitchell

June 19, 2016 at 6:29 pm