The Conscious Lifestyle: Awareness Skills – Diving Deep
Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on May 27, 2013
By Deepak Chopra
This is the fourth in a series of posts about skills in awareness; the first three skills were being centered, paying attention, and holding focus. You might want to review them since all four skills make a totality. The reason I’m calling these “skills” is that most people pay very little attention to the quality of their awareness – they are too distracted by the contents of the mind, the constant flow of thoughts, feelings, and sensations. But if you think about it, the ability to remain centered in a crisis is a skill, as is the ability to pay attention to what is happening in a complex situation and to remain sharply focused on the problem at hand.
To complete the set of awareness skills, there is the ability to dive deep into your mind when you need answers and solutions. Decision-making depends on this skill, since bad decisions are mostly made when someone’s mind is anxious, confused, conflicted, or superficial. It’s crucial to get past these obstacles somehow.
When I think of my mind, I see the image of a river. On the surface there are lapping waves, and the current flows fast. Dive beneath the surface and the same river flows slower; there are no waves agitating the water. Keep diving, and the water slows even more, until at the bottom there is hardly any motion at all. Yet it’s all the same river. Most people spend 90 percent of their waking hours at the surface of the mind, which is tossed and turned by daily events. It would be easy to believe that this restless activity is the mind. There is nothing else until you dive deeper and experience it.
We’ve all had moments when our minds grow more peaceful – millions of people go on vacation just to find this experience. But the world’s wisdom traditions teach that the very nature of the mind is silent, vast, and calm. The mind’s activity is secondary. The silent mind is primary. But why? You won’t know the value of silence until you acquire the skill to get there and explore on your own. In kindergarten restless children are told to put their heads down for a few minutes. You probably remember how impatient this made you, how quickly you wanted to get back to playing and running around.
In adults, this same impatience has worn a deep groove. We resist being still because what we know is activity, a constant state of mental churning. If the nature of the mind is silent, calm, and peaceful, it’s not part of our experience. Millions of people in the West have heard of meditation by now. A large number have given it a try. Life is stressful and hectic enough that getting a short respite every day sounds appealing. But the spiritual teacher J. Krishnamurti said something very important when he declared that true meditation lasts twenty-four hours a day. True meditation occurs when you dive deep into our mind and stay there.
Diving deep brings you closer to your source. At the mind’s source is creativity, intelligence, peace, and bliss. You don’t have to work to achieve these things. They are part of the landscape. A glimpse of silent mind isn’t hard to experience, and with repetition, the glimpses grow into a view. Your mind will like what it sees, and so the desire to dive deeper increases on its own.
To dive deeper right this minute, here’s a simple breath meditation. Sit quietly by yourself. Make sure that you won’t be disturbed. Close our eyes for a moment to clear your mind and make it receptive. Now place your attention on the tip of your nose. Feel the air gently going in and out as you breathe. Do this for 10 minutes. If your attention strays from the tip of our nose – as it naturally will – easily bring it back. Don’t force your attention, don’t try to control your breathing. Just be natural and easy.
Before you open your eyes, sit and appreciate where you are inside. Let the feeling sink in – just be with it. Now open your eyes and go about your day. Almost everyone will find that the effects of this simple meditation linger for a while. Colors seem a bit more vivid, or sounds seem clearer. There’s a sense of calm inside and less tendency to be pulled out into activity. If your day is frantic and you plunge quickly back into it, this lingering will be slight. But meditate twice a day for 10-20 minutes, and then you will begin to taste a lasting difference.
In a society where a disturbing number of school children are diagnosed every year with hyperactivity and attention deficits, the chance that they will grow up to acquire awareness skills seems slight. In the next post we’ll discuss how to turn the four awareness skills you’ve learned into a practical way of life.