Truly, there is no “better” or “worse” version of You, or I–we are the Center of Consciousness. How can there be a flaw?
Be the Best Version of your “Self”
In Yoga Philosophy, a human is viewed as an expression of the Center of Consciousness. As the Center of Consciousness “moves outward” it appears to condense (for lack of a better word) and become the individual. But, the Center of Consciousness remains eternal, undiminished, unchanged.
There are various sheaths (koshas) appearing to veil the Center of Consciousness; they are like layered lampshades covering a light. At the outermost level there is the physical body; the next, more subtle, layer is the energy/breath body; the next, subtler, layer is the mental body; the mind is preceded by the wisdom body; at core is the Self–the point where Center of Consciousness initiates individuation.
Whether or not you subscribe to this philosophy, we can intuit that we are more than we appear to be. What we hold to be as our “True Nature” is a personal belief. However, the busyness of our lives causes us to misidentify with all of the actions we are doing instead of our illusive “True Nature”.
Furthermore, our addiction to moving outward–as opposed to focusing inward–causes many of us to fixate on our failures and challenges. We can become mired in a victim persona, subjecting ourselves to a self-fulfilling prophecy. Meditation is a tool which can shift us to a state of empowerment by: improving our physiological functioning, depersonalizing the thinking process, and relieving us from attachments.
When the human nervous system evolved, it bifurcated into two aspects which work like gears on a manual transmission. The sympathetic nervous system causes humans to jump into action. It triggers the “fight or flight” response via the release stimulating hormones, which includes: dilated pupils, accelerated heart rate, and increased rate of respiration. Conversely, the parasympathetic nervous system is associated with feelings of safety and wellbeing–reflect on the feeling holding a calm baby. Unfortunately, many people are primarily tapped into the sympathetic nervous system–they are reactive, anxious, and judgemental.
Most systems of meditation are practiced in a relaxing environment and incorporate techniques, such as: body scanning, diaphragmatic breathing, and focusing attention–all of which elicit a parasympathetic response. When this is stimulated, thoughts are inclined to be uplifting and positive. In fact, a recent Harvard study indicates, 8-weeks of mindfulness meditation cause the brain to grow new gray matter. This asserts you can rewire your brain into new thought patterns. Despite the catharsis of improving the quality of our thoughts, it is important to understand that we are not our thoughts.
As previously mentioned, we identify with our accomplishments and roles; however, we also identify with our thoughts. Thoughts, like the material objects of the world are “objects” we have created on the mental plane. Many people have an antagonistic relationship with their thoughts. They tend to believe that they are good when they are having positive and altruistic thoughts. They tend to judge themselves when they are having negative thoughts. All minds are creative–even Buddhist monks have thoughts of murder. However, acting on a thought is a different scenario.
Although there are benefits to positive thinking; it’s important to get distance from your thoughts. This is not an attempt to have cessation of the thinking process; rather, the goal is to become detached from the activity of the mind. In most meditation traditions, practitioners are taught to allow the mind to behave naturally–not to interfere with the thinking process. Over time, one is able to become aware of the transient nature of thoughts. Ultimately, as one becomes dispassionate about thoughts, the mind begins to relax; this is not unlike a pond settling after it is undisturbed for a while. Then one becomes aware of spaces between the thoughts. In meditation we attempt to move into those spaces–not to shut the mind down.
After one develops a regular practice they may observe that thoughts are of two sorts: neutral and colored. Neutral thoughts are benign, they do not elicit an emotional response. Colored (klishta) thoughts are shaded with attachment. Attachment is twofold: attraction and repulsion (aversion). We cling at what we are attracted to and we push against what we are repulsed by. Yet, these are two sides of the same coin–in both cases one is attached. We expend a great deal of energy trying to get more of what we want and an equal amount of energy trying to keep away what we abhor. The rationale of this behavior is happiness; but, true happiness is not determined by what is outside of us.
As a meditation practice develops, one is able to discern which thoughts are colored. A regular meditator is detached from their thoughts, they are able to uncolor them and decrease incessant craving for the the material world and it’s ephemeral pleasures. Many philosophies believe attachment is our greatest downfall; whether is desire for more accomplishments and experiences or the fear of death. Meditation does not make us apathetic; a healthy yearning for that which brings us inside and towards truth is amplified with regular practice.
Meditation is a wellspring; it allows us to set down the many false ideas and identities that burden us on a daily basis. Then, as if we hang these on a clothesline, after meditation we pick these up and they feel lighter. With meditation we begin to perceive ideas of lack are not our true nature; they are fantasies we created along the way. During meditation, we still the body, smooth the breath, quiet the mind, and steep in the silent Center of Consciousness. How can we be undeserving, unworthy or unlovable if our true nature is perennial and connected with the True Nature of everyone?