Recently two people wrote to me regarding what they considered a problem: the distraction caused by random thoughts. They wanted to know how to overcome the distraction of their constantly thinking mind. They wanted to be able to focus their attention laser-like, onto some specific object, like the I-thought, in order to perfoem what they thought was proper self-inquiry.
However, this is entirely the wrong approach. This forceful control of the mind will beget only tension. which someday may result in a very focused mind, but that focused mind, that laser -like attention, will never discover the self, because the self appears when the mind is entirely gone and is utterly relaxed, because you are utterly relaxed. A laser-like attention focuses downwards to a point, while relaxed openness, is aware of everything, and is happiness, freedom, and lack of constraint.
Focusing clamps down while relaxation opens up, is not tight, and is not a limiting of awareness.
Instead of trying to use the mind control the mind, you have to do the exact opposite, which is to use the mind to lose the mind, to intentionally relax. You learn how to relax and drop your attention out of your head and into your heart, and even lower, into the gut. You need to sit or lie relaxed, and continually relax even more. In such a relaxed state, you can perform complete body scans of feeling each part of your body, starting at you toes and ending in your head. You “feel” your body from toes to head. Feel into your chest. Feel your diaphragm move. Feel the air expanding your lungs. Feel into your gut. Relocate your center of gravity of attention from head into your body while in a relaxed state.
Then you relax and open your awareness again to the totality of your consciousness, from inside the body, to the surrounding room and environmental sounds.
And when you sit in formal sitting meditation, let your attention drop into your gut. Not trying to see anything or feel anything just rest your attention into your gut or heart.
After a bit of practice, you will notice that your brain starts freezing up, and it feels like a rock, heavy, and unable to move or think. You feel utterly stupid with no thoughts. After practicing this for a while and getting used to that feeling of being a rock head and utterly stupid, and accepting it as a normal state, one day, suddenly, the center of your attention will drop into your body and out of your head.
The problem of "you" feeling the disturbance of random thoughts, is that your center of attention is in your head most of the time, which is right next to the central transmitter of constant thoughts, namely your brain. When you both occupy such a small area, the broadcasting thoughts seem like a big deal. But when your attention falls into your body in a relaxed state, you will enter an entirely new world. It will feel as if you have dropped into a huge, dark, canyon, an expensive emptiness that will feel entirely open and comfortable. This is your entry into emptiness, into the Void. From this new location in that expansive emptiness, the mind will seem so very far away from "you." What is “you” will now feel like you are in a new location in a vast emptiness, and the mind can continue to prattle and talk to itself but it does not disturb you because the transmitter is no longer located right next to you in your head space. Thoughts are then experienced like listening to a radio from two rooms away.
Then thoughts do not disturb you. You can ignore them like all the people in a crowded room while you are attending to one particular conversation, or like ignoring the crowds and sounds while at the beach, lying in the shade.
This is not really enlightenment, but it is an opening into the expansiveness of your heart, and within this expansiveness you can feel your own sense of presence, your own sense of I, of being alive, of being sentient. Just resting there in your own presence is proper self-inquiry, which is really an abiding or resting in one's own self. Abiding in the self this way, feeling the quiet emptiness, feeling your sense of presence, feeling the I-energy, will lead to an experience of an identification with the totality of the manifest consciousness, what I call the Manifest Self.
This is the first stage of enlightenment: recognition of yourself as no longer an individual, but identified with the totality of your consciousness, that your consciousness is you, and not that body object which is experienced within your consciousness. You are much larger than your body experience. You are the totality of all of your experience including the external world, all your thinking, the emptiness, the peacefulness of that emptiness, and all the energy states that comprise your sense of presence or existence as a sentient being.Recently several people have written to me for advice on how to focus their attention on the I