Entering the Meditative State
Contacting our Higher Self in meditation is a bit more complex than plugging in a television set and turning it on. In just a matter of moments, the television connects to the right station and an image comes into focus. We may want to adjust the sound, but the set is designed to do most of the actual work of keeping us in tune with the right channel.
A good meditative contact, by contrast, is more of a process of discovery. It is almost as though we must first learn the principles of electromagnetic phenomena and then build our own television set! When it is finished, and we turn it on, we then discover that our Higher Self has been broadcasting to us all along, but only now can we receive the full signal.
The principles of electromagnetic phenomena, of course, would correspond to the basic tenets and principles of human nature and spiritual growth. Building our own television set corresponds with the work of preparing the mind, emotions, and physical body to be receptive to our Higher Self. This is a gradual process, requiring more than a moment’s enthusiasm.
From the very beginning, we get worthwhile results, but the activity of attuning to our Higher Self never ends, it simply becomes more sophisticated and effective.
In pursuing this contact, we must beware of techniques which are overly simplistic. There are many schools of philosophy ready to promote their special way to our Higher Self or God. Just as we would not want to build a television which can only tune in to one channel, we need a technique for meditation that does more than help us escape anxiety.
Some techniques offer more dogma than practical assistance. Others have good techniques, but bury them under so much religious or philosophical baggage that the substance is all but obscured.
Certain groups would have us eliminate the channel of the mind and tune in only through the emotions. Others emphasize the exercising of the body and ignore the emotions and the mind entirely.
Some even suggest that we do not actually need the television set, just the antenna!
Given this plethora of techniques and philosophies, it is wise to remember the advice of H.L. Mencken – that for every complex problem, someone is sure to offer a simple solution, and it will be wrong!
While there is a need for caution about the many techniques for meditation, we should not ignore these systems and schools. Significant knowledge can be found among them even where their methods are weak or too elaborate.
Ultimately, we must understand that contact with our Higher Self is something we have to work out for ourselves. No guru can do it for us, no holy faith can magically guarantee it.
Because we are indeed individuals, the nature and quality of the connection with our Higher Self will vary from one to the next. It will be easy for some, a struggle for others.
The creative person will make a somewhat different contact than the religious devotee; the scientific mind will focus on certain elements of our Higher Self, while the artist will deal with others.
It should also be kept in mind that our personality and our Higher Self are in different dimensions or worlds. Our Higher Self is not a part of the physical system. It may be a disappointment for some to learn that our Higher Self does not really dwell in the spine or in the pineal gland of the brain. It resides in a more subtle dimension of life. Until contact is established meditatively, there is no direct interaction between our personality and our Higher Self.
Our personality, by nature, is accustomed to acting, feeling, and thinking in very concrete ways. Our Higher Self, by nature, is abstract and free of mundane limitations.
To make an effective contact with our Higher Self, therefore, we will need to transcend our ordinary state of awareness and consciousness.
Specifically, we need to operate at the level that is compatible with our Higher Self. Given the proper practice with effective techniques, this is not especially difficult.
At the same time, we must also understand that working with the Higher Self is not as simple as many people have assumed. We should avoid teachers who give us simplistic formulas such as “just surrender to God”. Their assurance that this will takes us straight to our Higher Self is unlikely to make it happen.
Above all, we should remember that the goal of meditation is to integrate the life of our Higher Self with our personality. This will not happen to any significant degree without our direct, skillful effort. This will entail many specific procedures to direct the abstract qualities of the Higher Self into our personal beliefs, habits, and sense of purpose.
What is so deceptively easy to do is to by-pass the Higher Self, and instead, form a pleasant alliance with the wish life of the subconscious. Our department of wishful thinking is willing to tell us what we want to hear and add as many flattering phrases as we can bear. Mistaking this congenial fluff for our Higher Self eventually becomes apparent in the lack of any helpful growth in our character.
True meditation, however, transcends this level. While we may benefit from learning to recognize the “voice” of our inner “needy child” or “playful child,” we must not stop there. Genuine meditation will take us to the reservoirs of wisdom, courage, and love in our Higher Self.
These are the forces that can repair and enrich the part of our personality that is needy or tries to escape into pleasant fantasies.
We should expect contact with our Higher Self to be something different from what we have experienced before. Certainly, it should be something apart from our usual feelings, wishes, and even our aspirations and expectations.
The signs that we are making a valid connection with our Higher Self could be the awareness of being able to think more clearly and with greater understanding. It may be the experience of being more patient and forgiving about other people. It can be the recognition that there is a great benevolent power in and about us, a wonderful source of healing, courage, and new motivation.
Identifying With The Higher Self
The key to making contact with the life of our Higher Self is to accept It as a friendly and wise power that is available to us. It is, in fact, a valuable resource for guidance, problem-solving, renewal, and enrichment. Ultimately, we need to identify with Its intelligence, compassion, strength, and other noble virtues.
This relationship goes beyond just an intellectual acceptance of the fact or the mightiness of our Higher Self. It is not enough to contemplate the virtues and wisdom of God, nor is it enough to adore our divine origins.
These practices have value, as they help us shift the focus of our attention, but effective identification with our Higher Self requires more. It requires us to expand our awareness and understanding of our potentials.
The average person identifies with his or her body, emotions, thoughts, habits, and experiences – not with their Higher Self. They may think about their Higher Self, but not really identify with it.
To effectively contact our Higher Self, we must comprehend that we are more than the elements of our human nature, and instead, begin to identify with their origins in our spiritual nature.
We need to realize that our personality and physical body are designed to be extensions and agents of our spiritual nature. They are important to us, obviously, but they do not fully define our true identity or the source of our life.
While personality and body may seem to have a life of their own, they are meant to be guided as extensions of our higher consciousness. This enables us to be creative and perform constructive work in the world.
This is not a view which any one of us can master in only a matter of minutes. It is a dynamic concept which grows and matures through repeated contemplation about what it implies for us. This idea will be threatening to some, delightful to others, and nothing more than a nice philosophy to the rest.
But whether we like this concept or believe in it is immaterial. Effective contact with our Higher Self requires that we must comprehend it and learn to live by it.
It is not an easy matter for our personality to make this shift in identification. Since birth, almost all of the information our personality has acquired has been about itself and the experiences in the physical plane. It knows very little, if anything, about our Higher Self.
Quite likely our personality has heard a considerable number of legends, stories, and myths concerning our Higher Self, both pro and con. However, the fact remains that our personality has little or no direct, first-hand experience of our Higher Self. Everything it knows about it is hearsay and probably unreliable.
Even when our personality begins to acquire trustworthy data about our Higher Self, it is not easy to make sense of it.
Our Higher Self lives in a world of universal themes and abstract forces. Our personality lives in a world of finite events, concrete themes, and small concerns.
Our Higher Self dwells in a realm of ideals and perfection.
Our personality lives in an imperfect world, frequently hassled and frustrated by human error and pettiness.
Our Higher Self lives in the constant and full awareness that it is divine and immortal, and it is endowed with tremendous resources of power, wisdom, talent, strength, and dignity.
Our personality must live with constant reminders of its mortality, weakness, and limitations.
As much as we may wish to identify with such a lofty and noble Higher Self, the prospect can overwhelm the imagination. True to its finite nature, the subconscious repeatedly will throw up objections and barriers of doubt and disbelief.
If our Higher Self exists, the subconscious will ask, why do so few people know about its true nature as a resource for us?
If it is so benevolent, why do unfair circumstances arise? If everyone has a Higher Self, why are some people so rotten, and why is there so much conflict?
Indeed, our personality often reacts cynically when informed about the Higher Self. It is if we are being told we are like an orphan who managed to grow up and successfully become established in early adulthood. But now we discover we are actually the long-lost child of an extremely wealthy parent who now offers to help us.
A certain degree of suspiciousness and wondering, “Where were you when I needed you,” is reasonable.
What we have to work through is the fact that the idea of being lost and orphaned is only an illusion. Our Higher Self never loses or abandons our personality. Instead, it is we who lose our awareness of our Higher Self and how to contact it. We lose it by identifying with the experiences of physical life and the innate sensations of our personality.
As we rediscover what we have lost, the conclusions we draw are sometimes almost comical. At first, for example, we may naïvely think of our Higher Self as some sort of year-round Santa Claus who passes out gifts. Or, the darker side of our human nature may paint our Higher Self as a god of wrath, who dotes on punishing us for our copious misdeeds.
Neither of these concepts, of course, leads to a wholesome identification with our Higher Self. But eventually we outgrow them, by realizing that our Higher Self is a part of us, not apart from us. It is a higher octave of our own being.
As such, it can provide us with the wisdom we need to make sense of the experiences of life. It also can offer the compassion we need to heal our emotional wounds, and the strength we need to assert ourselves and fulfill our responsibilities.
By identifying with our Higher Self in this way, we also develop a new perspective on our personality. Many people fear that as they identify more and more with our Higher Self, their respect for our personality will suffer, but this is not the case.
Instead, we begin to see our personality as an agent of our Higher Self, representing it on earth and acting on its behalf. For the first time, our personality is connected with the treasures and noble life of our Higher Self. This connection greatly enhances its stature and importance.
For the first time, our personality knows from direct experience that it has a divine heritage which cannot perish.
The Proper Training
Making contact with our Higher Self is not dependent on how much our Higher Self likes us or thinks we are nice. It is a process we can learn and, through practice, master. And our Higher Self will help us learn!
In this sense, the process is something like attending a university in order to become an attorney or physician. The university has tremendous resources which will help us learn: professors, classes, textbooks, a library, and much more.
But we do not acquire an education merely by enrolling in the university and spending time there. We must study, go to classes, be tested, and work diligently and intelligently. Only then can these resources help us. The responsibility for getting the education the university offers lies almost entirely with us.
Making contact with our Higher Self necessitates exactly the same sense of responsibility and effort.
The resources of our Higher Self are inherent in every human being. They are accessible to every intelligent personality. But this support will remain latent until we accept it and start to act as an agent of the life of our Higher Self.
People who reach fifty years of age and bemoan the fact that they are not as enlightened and as benevolent as they might like to be, have no reason to be puzzled. The simple fact is that they have not pursued the proper training.
Many intelligent people are unfulfilled by unenlightened teachers or just frustrated by their initial attempts to contact our Higher Self. Some mistakenly conclude that our Higher Self is so remote and beyond our grasp that it is untouchable. This is a false conclusion.
Our Higher Self is not a blimp in heaven that soars high above us, flashing obscure messages through the dark as it drifts gracefully off toward the horizon. Our Higher Self is part of us. Wherever we may be, it is there as well. It is within us.
Our Higher Self understands us. It loves us. It seeks to help us.
Often, we are only able to respond to a fraction of its immense power and wisdom. This separation is comparable to the tiny infant that can only respond in the simplest ways to the much greater affection and intelligence of its mother. But we can train our self to become more responsive. We can learn to be a better agent of our Higher Self.
Fortunately, our Higher Self is more interested in our development than our personality is. This is similar to the average mother being more concerned about the well-being of the infant than the infant is. Support and guidance from the Higher Self is always given, but how much is sought and accepted depends on how much we seek and accept it.
The Good Host
Entertaining our Higher Self is similar to entertaining a good friend.
Before receiving friends, proper hosts organize their household and themselves. They prepare the household by cleaning it and fixing refreshments. They prepare themselves by dressing for the occasion. They also prime their attitudes, looking forward to the arrival of the guests with enthusiasm.
Gracious hosts take care not to spoil the atmosphere by excessive anxiety or becoming irritated over minor trivialities. They want their guests to feel welcome, not uncomfortable.
This basic attitude continues to motivate the good host once their guests have arrived. They do not leave them to entertain themselves while they sneak off to another room to watch television or take a nap. Nor do they sit motionless and mute, expecting the guests to do all the talking. They treat their guests with charm and respect, conversing with them, setting them at ease, and serving their needs.
In meditation, we are entertaining the saintly and angelic nature of our Higher Self.
We should treat this guest with the same respect and graciousness we extend to our friends. We should be ready to greet our Higher Self with respect, intelligence, good humor, affection, and dignity.
We certainly would not want to leave our Higher Self in the living room while we go play mind games and fantasies in the den. Nor would we want to fall into a trance or keep our self focused on something else, ignoring our guest.
Quite the contrary, we should embrace our Higher Selves, interacting actively, making them feel at home in our awareness, and serving their needs as best we can. We should play the role of the good host, listening attentively and trying to understand what our Higher Self has to offer.
In other words, we have to be receptive to our Higher Self and Its intelligence, benevolence, and power. In no way, however, should this state of receptivity be confused with passiveness, mental numbness, or mindless surrender.
As impulses of the higher life emerge in our awareness, we are expected to relate them to the needs of our life. We can do this by focusing them into meaningful self-improvement. This effort will often require us to ask questions where further clarification is required.
None of this is accomplished simply by becoming nonresistant and passive to the Higher Self. Rather, we must be alert enough to respond to the impulses which emerge.
This includes the ability to restrain our fears, worries, or other distractions that may arise. The mind and emotions should be subdued so that they do not rebel, but are not turned off. After all, these are the very vehicles needed to receive and contain what is arriving from this transcendent source.
The ideal state of receptivity is often confused by a few who assume it is comparable to just lying out in the sun and getting a tan. The practice of passively soaking up God’s goodness may work for rocks, melons, and trees, but not for agents of our Higher Self.
The right kind of receptivity is also something other than tuning into our emotions, prejudices, or the sensations and cravings of the body.
The state of responsiveness that is ideal for meditation is comparable to children who patiently and intently listen to their parent tell them a story. The child’s full attention is riveted on what the parent is saying. They are not looking out the window, or falling asleep, or wondering when dinner will be. They adore their parents and want to hear the whole story.
From time to time, they ask questions about the story, but mostly, they listen. And they listen to a good deal more than just the words; they are receptive and responsive to the full radiance of goodwill, concern, and affection with which the parent is reading.
For the meditator, the ideal state of receptivity is very much the same. It is the posture of the whole personality as it seeks to entertain our Higher Self.
The physical body is most receptive when reasonably relaxed and quiet. This tranquility need only be enough to enable us to collect our thoughts and feelings so we are not unduly distracted.
The emotions are most receptive when focused in an attitude of peace and quiet devotion to the life of our Higher Self.
The mind is most receptive when reflecting on the nature and wisdom of our Higher Self and trusting in its influence.
The personal will is most receptive when focused on a sense of purpose, a willingness to refine and amend it, and a commitment to the plan and direction of our Higher Self.
Entering A Meditation
When rain falls, it is quickly absorbed into the ground, or runs into drains and is carried away. If we want to collect it, we must set out barrels or pots. We cannot rely on the rain to gather itself.
The same can be assumed for cloud bursts of wisdom, love, and inspiration from our Higher Self. If we are passive or inattentive in meditation, there may be a momentary cleansing and refreshing effect, but the true potential of the downpouring will simply wash away.
To be sure, the pots and barrels we put out must be cleansed of dirt and pollution; we do not want to contaminate the living water we are receiving.
The mind must be purified of irrelevant thoughts and prejudices.
The emotions must be cleansed of their crabbiness, fear, hostility, and resentment.
The will should be cleansed of personal urges and desires.
But cleaning a pot is vastly different than ignoring it or never setting it out in the first place.
The basic steps of contacting our Higher Self in meditation are each designed to build the vessels we need to receive new life from heaven.
In all, there are four stages:
Together, they form a very effective drill for beginning any meditation and invoking the outpouring of higher consciousness. As they are practiced, they vivify the hope, faith, belief, reverence, compassion, good intentions, commitment, and ideals we already possess, and focus them to be receptive to our Higher Self.
The needs of each person will naturally vary.
A person who is already kind and devotional, for example, will experience very little difficulty in expressing reverence for our Higher Self. They may, however, have trouble preparing their mind to respond to its wisdom and intelligence.
A passive, gentle person will have no problem accepting the benevolent authority of our Higher Self, but may have much more difficulty harnessing strength, hope, and conviction.
The intellectual individual will be well prepared to receive insights and new understanding but may be deficient in his capacity to mobilize the forces of devotion and faith.
One of the major problems encountered by beginning meditators is the tendency to emphasize one aspect of the process of contacting our Higher Self to the exclusion of all the others. Usually this will be the aspect they are most comfortable with or feel they need the most.
They might put a lot of effort into learning to relax, but never go beyond that stage to the others.
Or they might work very diligently at mastering concentration but end up concentrating most of their attention on their problems and failures.
None of these stages alone constitutes meditative contact with our Higher Self. They are all meant to be used and in a proper sequence.
This will lead to a balanced and active state of alertness and readiness.
Always, we must keep in mind the purpose of meditation: to lift our conscious attention to our Higher Self, to be nourished by its qualities, and become a better agent for expressing its purpose.
The first step in contacting the life of our Higher Self is relaxation. This is the process of releasing tension and establishing poise in the physical body, the emotions, and the mind.
It is amazing how simple relaxation actually is, and how little time it requires. Fortunately, the body already knows how to relax; it has rehearsed this procedure thousands of times. We do it every time we nap or sleep. And what makes relaxation even easier is the fact that the body enjoys it. We only need to stop fussing over our little tensions and give it permission to relax.
It is not necessary to achieve any particular level of deepness in relaxing, in fact, too deep a state of relaxation can actually interfere with meditation. It will cause us to fall asleep or wander aimlessly. Nor should we pursue the practice of relaxation too fanatically.
If our elbow itches in the middle of a meditation, scratching it is not a sign of poor relaxation or weak concentration. Common sense dictates that we should just go ahead and scratch it, and be done with it. That is what will let us most quickly return our attention to our Higher Self, not mounting some incredible mental effort to overcome the itch.
The purpose of relaxation is to make the body comfortable, so we can forget it.
The position of the body is not important. Again, this can be determined by common sense. Any position which is suitable for quiet, reflective thought will be ideal for meditation. If we have to shift in our chair every five minutes, we probably have chosen the wrong chair or are not sitting properly in it. But these decisions are entirely incidental to the work and activity of meditating.
For those who find it especially difficult to release muscular or nervous tension, it can be helpful to check those areas of the body commonly associated with tension. These are usually the tiny muscles around the eyes, clenched jaws, hunched shoulders, and tensed hands.
A simple thought of releasing this muscular tension is usually sufficient to relax that part of the body. If necessary, this check can be repeated as often as required until relaxation becomes automatic.
When properly poised, the body will very seldom distract us. As a result, we can focus the mind on the work to be done. But it should be understood that relaxation is not just limited to the physical body.
Tension in the emotions and the mind must be released as well, not by making them passive, but by simply discharging the tension. Indeed, if we are troubled by excessive physical tension, it is probably the result of undue fussing in the emotions and mind.
This level of tension can often be handled by recalling the memory of a tranquil state or scene, dwelling on the comfort and poise of peacefulness, or contemplating a firm intention to be calm and alert in the coming meditation.
If serious problems are encountered in achieving a reasonable level of relaxation, then a long-range program of healing major conflicts, fears, and irritations should be pursued.
While we are attending to the relaxation of tension, we can begin the second step in making contact with our Higher Self: concentration.
The purpose of concentration is to keep our attention focused on the ideas we are considering or the work we are pursuing. Like relaxation, it is so simple to learn and master that it is amazing that so many people have made so much out of so little. Most of us are able to concentrate on anything which interests us or fascinates us; even people who are very anxious and restless find no great difficulty in sitting through an exciting program on television or a good movie.
They only find it difficult to concentrate on tasks which do not sufficiently interest them or have appeal.
To concentrate effectively in meditation, it is only necessary to cultivate a level of interest which will easily hold our attention. If we are more interested in the work and goals of our Higher Self than we are in our worries and irritations, we will have no difficulty concentrating.
If we are more interested in discovering the treasures of Higher Self and what we can do with them than we are in what we ate for breakfast, then we should have no problem sustaining our concentration.
Indeed, this level of interest should come naturally to anyone seriously involved in effective meditation.
This is a much different approach than is usually taught regarding concentration, but one which makes sense. We must take care not to become an addict of concentration, the kind of person who labors and labors and labors to achieve a single-pointed, uninterrupted concentration on a symbol, an object, the breath, or a mantra that is repeated over and over.
While feats of this nature can be performed, they belong more in the Guinness Book of World Records than in meditation. What is the point of concentrating on our breath for thirty minutes? That is not meditation. It is boredom!
To accomplish isolated concentration on a single object, our mind must be beaten into dullness. An effective meditation should never be boring, never dull. It should be an opportunity to respond to the most intelligent and inspiring levels of our consciousness.
It should consume our interest!
Only a sufficiency of concentration is required for contacting our Higher Self. In this regard, it is helpful to understand that true concentration never limits us to a single thought. Our Higher Self does not think about one detail or one thought at a time; it entertains a whole universe of inspiration.
Not even the subconscious is limited to one association; it regularly processes many details and images at once.
The conscious mind is not equipped to work quite at these levels, but it can easily embrace many different thoughts without losing concentration. To work effectively in meditation, we ought to learn how to do this, not try to exclude all thoughts but one.
Some people have a hard time believing it is possible to think more than one thought at a time. They need to understand that it is quite common to walk and chew gum at the same time, while listening to a friend converse and observing what is happening down the block. We may even be able to think of what we are going to say in reply to our companion!
In meditation, we should train our self to concentrate on the themes of what we are doing more than the details. Each theme, such as contacting our Higher Self or improving some aspect of the emotions, will encompass a multitude of details and observations.
We may have many of these details or ideas in focus at any one time, and still we can hold our concentration by being primarily interested in the work or theme at hand. We do not let our meditation be unraveled by digressions into irrelevancies. Our basic interest in what we are doing holds our attention, comfortably and easily, so we can make sense of the complete activity.
A word of warning should be added to those who would continue to think of concentration as an enforced focusing on a single point or idea, while emptying their minds of all other associations and considerations.
This practice can seriously undermine the natural capacity of the mind to seize detail and manage thoughts. It is definitely possible to damage the associative mechanism of the mind by pursuing this type of concentration too long. It is both dehumanizing and anti-spiritual, because it disconnects the mind from the body and our Higher Self.
It is the antithesis of meditation.
Fortunately, the average person who tries to concentrate in this fashion will succeed for a while, then become very bored, and finally find their mind flitting all over the place. This is not a sign of an undisciplined mind, but rather a sign that the mind is just trying to work normally. It is bored and wants to get back to activity. We should heed its signal and abandon our misplaced attempts.
The steps of relaxation and concentration are purely preliminaries. The actual identification with our Higher Self begins with a technique called detachment.
Through this activity, we seek to refocus our attention from the outer worlds of sensation and experience to enable us to refocus it on the more subtle realms of our inner life. As such, it is not really a withdrawal as much as it is a realignment.
The purpose of detachment is not to disconnect us or make us indifferent to the mundane elements of life. While it may seem that way at first, true detachment serves to expand our perspective on life to include more than the mundane alone.
There is nothing especially wrong or evil about our attachments to the world of form and experience, our likes and dislikes, habits, memories, and our possessions. For the most part, in fact, they are quite useful to us. It would be very difficult to make our way in the world without habits or possessions.
So, it must be clearly understood that the purpose of detachment is not to divorce us from the usual concerns of our personality. We are not trying “to get out of the material world”. This would be mere escapism.
The reason for detachment is much more profound. We are seeking to identify with our Higher Self.
Detachment is the process of setting aside the usual clutter of mundane thoughts, feelings, and concerns. Its purpose is to make room in our awareness for the qualities of the Higher Life: love, courage, wisdom, joy, peace, and dignity. But if we do not believe the core of our self to be this Higher Self, then we will never reach our goal.
Nor will this occur if we believe our self to be entirely defined and limited by the conditions of our personality.
Thus, we must see our attachments to people, objects, and beliefs for what they really are. They are matters of practicality and convenience, allowing us to manifest more readily in the physical plane. Attachments are not the end all and be all of our life and identity.
We have the power and the ability to change our attachments and focus of concern at will, because we are greater than they are. We are a being of intelligence, will, love, wisdom, and divine origin.
The core of our individuality is our Higher Self. Our personality is its representative on earth.
This line of reasoning is the heart of detachment. It leads us to the full realization that our personality is an agent of our Higher Self.
Staying In Control
While there are many aspects to Active Meditation, the one part that is most readily distorted is the process of detachment. If we remember that the primary goal of meditation is to identify with the riches of our higher self, there will be few problems. Some people, however, substitute withdrawing from the personality for both detachment and all of meditation.
This practice can lead to several unhealthy results:
1. It can lead to disconnecting from our personality. We simply practice a studied indifference to the needs and demands of life. This is hardly an advanced stage for human beings.
We cannot learn about the divine love and goodwill of our Higher Self by teaching our self to care less.
We cannot learn about the intelligence and wisdom of our Higher Self by teaching our self to think less.
We cannot learn about the active nature and stewardship of our Higher Self by cutting off our involvement in life.
2. It can lead to a denial of the value of our personality – an attempt to slay it or vanquish it. We must remember that our personality is the agent of our Higher Self and should be respected as such. Without a competent, mature personality, our Higher Self has no outlet for It’s light, love, and plan.
3. It can lead to an attitude of escapism which will paradoxically emphasize our problems even more. We can become obsessed with our problems and escaping from them – all while ignoring that our Higher Self is our source of solutions.
4. It can lead to a state of “spacing out,” in which we go into trance and become absorbed in the bliss of our higher emotions rather than the true power and support of our Higher Self.
None of these distortions of detachment will cause us any real difficulty, however, if we keep ourselves focused on the basic value of detachment: the realization that we have a body, emotions, a mind, and many memories and attachments, and they are basically good.
But we are more than these things. We are an agent of our Higher Self. As such, we are able to control and direct and enlighten all of these elements of our personality for our benefit. We are able to identify with our Higher Self, and assert dominion over our personality.
Detachment is not a denial of any of our thoughts, feelings, or intentions, positive or negative.
Detachment is a careful and reasoned reflection on the fact that we are endowed with an extra dimension of wisdom, compassion, and strength which transcends our personality, its experiences, and its reactions. We have the opportunity to use these riches to discipline, heal, and enrich our personality and its self-expression.
Who We Are
The practice of detachment highlights the important difference between sensation and consciousness. This distinction is significant in that our personality is primarily focused in sensation, while our Higher Self lives and moves and has its being entirely in consciousness.
We therefore need a mechanism for detaching from sensation and refocusing in consciousness.
What is sensation, what is consciousness?
Sensation is the capacity for awareness in our personality. It could be the pain we physically feel when we stub our toe, or the annoyance we emotionally feel as we react to it, or the sense of unworthiness we mentally feel when we decide this is God’s way of punishing us.
Consciousness, by contrast, is the capacity for knowingness in our Higher Self, our awareness of the intelligence, love, and power of God, and our divine origin.
A practical example may help elucidate the difference. When we are tired, we feel sleepy and possibly irritable. We want to stop our work and rest. We are fatigued, discontented, sore, and dulled.
All of these are sensations.
If at the same time we have an awareness of the purpose of our work and the knowledge that it is important and meaningful to finish it now, then this is consciousness. More importantly, we can draw from this consciousness the determination and strength to press on and complete our work.
It is unfortunate that so many people are mired in the world of sensation. It is considered very chic in some circles, for example, to concentrate on our physical sensations and our feelings as a means of self-discovery and enlightenment.
But the glorification of sensation entraps us in the world of our personality. It ties us, hypnotically, to the robot of our subconscious. We become a victim of our reactions and our attachments. The person who has glorified his sensations would simply give in to his distress and fatigue, and not attempt to rise above them. They would pamper themselves.
Even though we can justify acts of self-indulgence as “self-nurturing,” it is still self-indulgence. The danger is that it can lead us back to childish habits and weaken our ability to act. Ultimately, these habits can result in excessive reactiveness and being dominated by the sensations that arise from the physical plane.
None of these comments are to be construed as an argument for stoicism and self-denial, however. The key to detachment lies in recognizing that we have an alternative to being overreactive or indifferent.
Detachment helps us to appreciate that we need not be a victim of every distressful sensation we experience. We can, instead, learn to identify with our purpose, our ideals, and our inner strengths.
Detachment helps us comprehend the difference between who we are and what happens to us, as well as, the difference between who we are and what we think and feel from time to time.
Detachment enables us to observe and intelligently direct our thoughts, feelings, and body, in whatever way will best fulfill our purpose and goals. We do not stop registering sensations. We simply realize we can interpret the meaning of our sensations from a higher, more reliable perspective, allowing us to act instead of react.
With detachment, we are able to direct our body, speech, attention, thoughts, and emotions so as to express the best within us. We also will be able to discipline and dominate the less than best that also exists within us.
As we are able to recognize the difference between sensation and consciousness, we can use the practice of detachment to identify more consistently with who we are. By transcending our usual personality reactions, it becomes possible to mobilize our more noble emotions, lofty thoughts, and better intentions.
In this manner, detachment is more than just part of a meditative process; it becomes an approach to living. But meditation is where we can practice and perfect detachment. Without some use of the principles of detachment, there can be no effective meditation.
A Drill In Detachment
These principles of detachment can be condensed into a very effective drill in consciousness, which can be reviewed at the beginning of a meditation as a means of identifying with our Higher Self.
The drill should embrace the following ideas:
I have a physical body, but I am something greater than the physical body. The body is important to me; it allows me to act in the physical world and be productive. The body can be tired or rested, sick or healthy, but I am able to observe these changes in the physical body, and even direct them. My Higher Self, the Real I AM, is greater than the conditions of the physical body. It is the source of vitality within me.
I have emotions, but I am something greater than my feelings and emotions. The emotions are important to me; they help me express goodwill and interact with others. They can be sad or happy, selfish or cooperative, but I am able to observe these changes in my emotions, and discipline them. My Higher Self, the Real I AM, is greater than the state of my emotions. It is the source of love and benevolence within me.
I have a mind, but I am something greater than my thoughts and memories. The mind is important to me, it enables me to make sense of life and express my talents and wisdom. My thoughts are sometimes destructive, sometimes constructive, but I can observe the changes in my thoughts and guide them.
My Higher Self, the Real I AM, is greater than my thoughts. It is the source of wisdom and intelligence within me.
I have a personal will, but I am something greater than this will. The will is important to me, it gives me motivation and intention. My intentions are sometimes defensive, sometimes purposeful, but I am able to observe the changes in my will and use the will wisely. My Higher Self, the Real I AM, is stronger than my personal will. It is the source of divine intention within me, and thus the true source of my personal authority.
My life also brings me many experiences, which allow me to learn and grow and serve. Sometimes I overreact to my experiences, and let them control me; at other times, I control them. But I am able to observe these experiences, see their value, and use them profitably. My Higher Self, the Real I AM, is greater than my experiences.
Who am I? I am not my body, not my emotions, not my mind, not my personal will, or my experiences, although I do have these things, and they are valuable.
I am the Higher Self, a center of pure love, wisdom, and power. This is my true identity.
It is not necessary to memorize these words in order to use this drill. Indeed, this is not recommended. It is much better simply to remember the sequence of ideas listed here and then think about them, one at a time.
At first, entire meditations can be given over to contemplating and understanding these very important ideas. Later, they can be condensed, and the drill can be used quite quickly, although it should never be rushed. Always, however, the ideas should be thoroughly thought through. The mere repetition of the words is almost worthless.
As we master this drill, and detachment becomes a familiar friend to us, we achieve a better grasp of the fact that we are designed to exert dominion over our personality. Our Higher Self stands ready to add wisdom, discipline, goodwill, joy, harmony, and strength to our self- expression.
Our personality is then able to act effectively as the agent of our Higher Self. The implications of this idea are immense, and worth the time it takes to explore them.
The end result of detachment is a well-balanced personality which effortlessly and fully expresses the qualities of our Higher Self in daily life, namely: the holistic qualities of love, joy, wisdom, strength, courage, and steadfastness.
Because detachment leads to greater maturity, it likewise enables us to correct the weaknesses of our personality with intelligence and compassion. It frees us from the fears, worries, doubts, and frustrations that subvert most attempts at personal growth. Hence, the great importance of detachment is that it enables us to work in a state of relative objectivity and thereby create changes which are genuine improvements.
Once we have identified with our Higher Self through detachment, we are ready for the final step in entering the meditative state: fixing our attention on the power and benevolence of our Higher Self, so that specific activities can ensue. This step is called attunement.
Some may wonder why we wait so long to make attunement. Since this is the goal, why spend so much time with relaxation, concentration, and detachment?
The answer is simple: we must transcend the bulk of the baggage in our personality before we examine this contact, lest we end up attuned to our fears, worries, or wish life.
These elements may not be transcended entirely, but it is useful to set them aside as much as we can, lest we distort our intention to work with our Higher Self.
Attunement is the process of linking our personal strength to the power of our Higher Self, our emotions to the love of our Higher Self, and our mind to the wisdom of our Higher Self. The easiest way of doing this is to magnetize our awareness to these perfect qualities.
We are all familiar with the magnetic principle. If we want to find our direction through a forest, we use a compass with a needle that is magnetically attracted to the north pole. We do not try to use a knife or a stick or a butterfly.
In consciousness, the most effective magnetic needle is the quality of love. It is highly magnetized and will orient us to the “true north” of our consciousness. This is because our Higher Self is continuously radiating its love and hope to our personality. Often, we may not be aware of this radiance, because we do not search for it within our self, but it is there!
Attunement is very simple:
We magnetize our self to the strength of our Higher Self by loving its power and authority. We trust in its capacity to support us and guide us, healing our weaknesses and enriching us with strength.
We should not be afraid of this strength, because fear interrupts the expression of love; rather, we should be grateful for it and reverent toward it.
We magnetize our self to the goodwill of our Higher Self by loving its benevolence and affection. We rejoice in its capacity to care for us, teach us, and enlighten us.
We must be careful not to feel unworthy of this love, for that would diminish our receptivity; rather, we should sense the loving response of our Higher Self and increase our devotion to it.
We magnetize our self to the wisdom of our Higher Self by loving its intelligence and knowledge. We celebrate the vast resources of understanding it has, and the capacity of our own talents, skills, and comprehension to grow in the loving aura of the wisdom of our Higher Self.
As we continue with this attunement, we begin to experience that there is something there, loving us in return; there truly does exist a great, benevolent intelligence within us, embracing us, helping us. It nourishes our ideals and plans and heals our weaknesses and flaws.
It is important to be active in this work. It is very easy to sit back complacently and think that our Higher Self can just go ahead and love us as we are and keep it up. If it is really all that powerful and loving, we conclude, what is it waiting for?
It is natural enough to think this way, but when we do, we are forgetting the obvious. The principle of magnetism can only help us find our way through the forest if we have a compass and are using it.
It is the responsibility of our personality to attune itself to its inward dimensions. Just as the university and its full resources do not descend upon the home of a high school graduate and turn him automatically into an attorney or physician, our Higher Self cannot intrude into our awareness until we place our conscious thoughts, feelings, and intentions in harmony with it.
Bridging The Gap
The work of attunement sometimes proceeds more smoothly if we learn to interact with the abstract forces and powers of our Higher Self in a symbolic fashion. The subconscious of the average person is focused in the material plane and the concerns of the relatively earthbound personality.
This materialistic orientation can make it difficult to accept or receive the forces and qualities of our Higher Self. Moreover, the untrained subconscious will tend to be unfamiliar with abstractions and subtleties. Much of this difficulty can be reduced, however, by working with proper symbols for the life and conditions of our Higher Self.
It can be helpful, for example, to regard our Higher Self symbolically as a benevolent, cosmic parent who loves us and understands our needs. To this benevolent parent we can then ascribe the virtues of our Higher Self that we need to strengthen.
Working with this symbolic image of a benevolent, wise cosmic parent helps us realize that our personality does spring from our Higher Self and is taught, cared for, and supported by it. For individuals who have a hard time loving themselves, the use of this symbol can also aid in expressing a measure of love to our Higher Self.
It is likewise useful to think of our true essence of life as being a single, perfect idea in the mind of God or the universal life force. This blueprint or pattern is energized by the life force of the transcendent dimensions of life to vivify our personality and body.
Yet another good use of symbolism is to think of our self as being bathed in a light which emanates from and incorporates the qualities and energies of our Higher Self’s love, wisdom, and power.
In using symbols for attunement, however, we must take care not to slip into the bad habit of just watching pictures or thinking about concrete concepts. The power of attunement is the magnetic quality of love, not pictures or concepts.
Symbols are used to give the subconscious a theme to relate to, but they are effective only if we concentrate on the love, the force, or the awareness which is associated with the picture.
In using symbols, it is important to keep in mind that our Higher Self is alive and dynamic, actively nourishing us with vitality, ready to inspire us, and immerse us in love. It is not a picture! If we focus our use of symbols too concretely, we can miss the real value of this contact.
The Best Evidence
In working to make this contact with our Higher Self, the beginning meditator frequently wonders: “How do I know I am meditating?”
In striving to answer this question, it is important not to give too much weight to relatively insignificant signs:
- The depth of relaxation.
- The ability to see white light – or any color of light.
- Changes in body temperature.
- “Alterations in consciousness,” whatever they might be.
- Sudden changes in feeling.
- A sense of peace or bliss.
It should be remembered that all of these indicators are phenomena of our personality and can therefore occur without any contact whatsoever with our Higher Self.
In actual fact, genuine meditation often occurs without any definite, unmistakable sign of change. It is only as our efforts to meditate build up, over a period of days, weeks, and months, and we begin to notice some subtle but very important changes.
These changes may not be apparent at first. Then we, or our friends, notice that our outlook has evolved, our mood is more tranquil, or we are more patient and understanding. This is when we realize beyond doubt that the contact has been made.
Being a transcendent activity, meditation often has its initial effect on our unconscious and deep subconscious. It takes time for the results of our work to filter through the layers of our personality and emerge into conscious recognition. If we are patient, however, and continue to reinforce and repeat the contact we have already made, we will soon see the evidence.
Perhaps the best evidence is the growing realization that we are indeed loved and understood by a great, benevolent intelligence – a power that has always been in and around us and continues to be there, every time we reach out and contact it.
It is a subtle realization, but as we become attuned to it, its presence becomes most real. This is an intimate experience, which goes beyond words or the need to doubt it.
It is an inner knowing which comes in degrees, slowly building, sometimes fading. But as it builds, we identify more and more completely with our Higher Self.
A Technique For Contacting Our Higher Self
For easy reference, the basic steps of entering a meditative state and making contact with our Higher Self can be condensed as follows:
- Before we begin, we should focus on our purpose in meditation, to contact the life, wisdom, love, and strength of our Higher Self so as to be nourished by it. Note that our primary purpose is not to relax or escape the stresses of our outer life.
- We should then relax the body and our personality to release excess tension and become comfortable.
- Concentration is achieved by focusing our attention on the goals and themes we intend to pursue. These should fill our interest.
- We identify with our Higher Self by thinking about the ideas in the drill in detachment, realizing that we are something greater than the aspects of our personality. We are an agent of our Higher Self.
- We attune to the love, wisdom, and power of our Higher Self by loving its strength, goodwill, and intelligence and being thankful for its intimate involvement in our life.
We look for some degree of its infinite, benevolent power embracing us and moving through us.