My mother is 93 years old. She has had Rheumatoid Arthritis since age 35 and has been in almost constant pain because of it for almost 60 years. Her bones are fragile from osteoporosis, and she has diverticulosis that periodically causes intestinal bleeding. Yet she says she does not feel like she is 93, she says she feels like she is still 18. She has been saying this to me for the last 20 years, "I don't feel like I am 70. I don't feel like I am 83," etc.
Isn't that the same for all of us? Deep down we don't feel any different than we did 20 or 30 or 40 years ago. Why is this? Poor memory? Delusion?
No, it is because our base state, the Krishna consciousness, the Absolute, the Self, known by a thousand names according to the different traditions, does not change. It is that to which the waking and sleep states come and go, and which observes the body and world through space and time. Compared to this state, all the states, things, thoughts and perceptions that come and go appear to be illusions, comprised of and penetrated by emptiness.
That is out goal, to know the Self and abide in it until it becomes our primary identification, instead of identification with our bodies, position in the world, our work, or our role as wife, husband, father, mother or child. These are accidents so to speak. These elements and roles and identifications change over time, but the basic observer does not.
(This is an aside. You have to realize that all those perceptions, thoughts, emotions, etc., that comes and go, are also you, but they are the impermanent and changeable parts of you. I want to help you find that unchanging part of you and identify with that as your primary identity as opposed to the changeable.)
So, how do we know this state and accept it as our primary identification?
There are many ways, but the one Ramana taught was self-inquiry, as did Robert and so do I. But also, a practice I recommend for some, is to just sit and do nothing. At first you need to sit somewhere and observe, but eventually the sense of observing goes away and you are just sitting, doing nothing.
This is what students do at a Zen monastery or center; they sit doing nothing. At first they observe whatever is in front of them with partially opened eyes so they don't drift into sleep, then whatever is in the mind, then sounds from outside, smells, the birds, etc.
But if the sitting is strong enough, done long enough, that which is the world and mind begin to disappear, including awareness of the body. Soon, you will pass through a state that appears to be sleep, but you are awake. You are fully conscious but you see, hear and feel nothing. The mind is asleep, suspended, and you are no longer even aware that you are aware.
Then you go into various samadhis, such as oneness with everything, the complete disappearance of limitations and boundaries. You are in the waking sleep state.
This all happens when you remain still and stop doing things because the mind has stopped.
You need not wait for formal meditation times. Just go to a coffee shop and sit quietly watching people and your surroundings. Do not interact. Just watch. Watch your reactions to events around you and people coming and going.
Do this too at the beach or a park where individuals and families are passing by, each deeply involved in whatever they are doing. Notice the squirrels playing, and the feeling of the breeze on your face. Listen to the waves, but sit very, very still until the stillness of your body pervades your entire perceived world.
Soon, you may feel still and powerful like a mountain, with all of the thoughts, emotions, visual and auditory experiences coming to you, but you sit still as a mountain.
Then you begin to recognize your true, fundamental and unchanging self-nature. The illusions fall away along with the false identifications, and gradually you become free.