“A meditator needs no personal guidance. A meditator, on the contrary, needs only one thing: the atmosphere of meditation”.
Consciousness in Meditation
What is meditation?
Meditation is just being aware of what is, whatever it is, in the moment it arises. It observes everything that happens in and around us, without judgment or mental boxes, without dogmatic or conceptual definitions. It is simply observing. Staying conscious. But who is after all, is conscious and with what? Tantric meditation has its starting point, not in the mind, but rather in the body. Nothing in us is more connected than the body. The mind jumps between memory and expectation.
The body is, par excellence, just as it is. Every gust of wind, every chirping bird. When we look at a sunset, it is the body that warms and brings the feeling of existential comfort. When we look at the sea, it’s the eyes that see and the nose that feels. The body is the greatest gift of the present because it is what we feel. Even when we lose track, when we lose consciousness, the body continues here in the present. We can be in the mind at a thousand thoughts per minute, and our heart keeps beating in the rhythm of right now, every pulse, every moment.
The base of life, like the base of meditation, is breathing. Air is the only element that circulates through the other three. Air is in water, fish and algae. It is the air that makes the fire burn, the more oxygen, more vibrantly fire burns. When fire evaporates the water, it is extinguished. But the air, space consists of the land, sustains complex ecosystems, and retains the memory of time, enclosed in thousands of millennia of sedimentation. We may not even have the notion that when we breathe, we breathe all life. Not a minute passes without involuntarily breath. The breath is in, and is the present. Every breath of air comes from what the moment has to offer us. The scent of flowers in a hidden site to our eyes, the smell of exhaust in a traffic jam, and above all, all the information that this air brings us, which translates and brings us to awareness of the present moment.
Breathing is our supreme and permanent link to the present. Breathing lives in the now through the body, which is its medium, its access to the present. The here and now. Breathing brings consciousness into the body, when we breathe in a conscious manner. Just observing the air coming in and the air going out.
When we look at the heart, which beats and pumps the air that nourishes our cells, we only feel, with no need for action. We just feel our heart, beating in perfect time with the present moment. After climbing the stairs, in a moment of meditation, at the time of receiving good news, at the time of making love, the heart keeps pumping air into the body that offers us the present.
In fact, according to Einstein, the body actually slows down the energy we are. Being material, we contain a potential energy the amount of the Hiroshima bomb per kilogram of body mass. This is the amount of potential energy of all the subatomic particles that form us, if simultaneously liberated all at once.
Thoughts begin to lose their energy unless we feed them, by giving them another glimpse of our attention. Each synapse has a repurcussion on our brain. Eventually, with the attention we devote to them, they begin to gain ground, reinforced by repetition and insistence in our memory. In meditation, every thought does not extend more than a breath. It expels thoughts, to make room for renewed inspiration. So whenever a thought arises, it is refunded totally in each exhalation.Therefore it begins gradually losing energy and hence decreasing its frequency.
This phenomenon can be observed technically, by measuring different brain waves by the implantation of electrodes on the head, which captures an electroencephalogram. Electrodes, when placed on different parts of the head, make a connection between the brain’s magnetic and electrical impulses. Then it turns out that as the body relaxes, lower frequency waves, or Alpha waves (8 to 13 frequencies per second), begin to emerge, connoted with the kind of waves that arise at a time of relaxation with eyes closed, like when we are on the beach, in the mountains or in a moment of rest. The Theta waves, slightly lower frequency (4 to 7 freq. / Sec), arise during sleep, and are only common in very young children.
As indicated by these waves, observing the body and the moment becomes more natural and in accordance to the way our brain functions, which in meditation looks for a milder pace, in line with the nature of life and the planet we inhabit. The speed limit of process is not a variable in meditation. The process is One and projects in the framework to the whole. The speed of light is the invisible force that connects us to our atoms. The body ceases to be an actor and becomes an element. Like the air we breathe in and the passion that this ignites, the more water that runs and matter that contains it.
Of course, any joyful and dancing human being will say that in dance, he or she can reach deep and refined states of consciousness. As it is also possible to come into an artistic state of creative ecstasy or deep connection with the rhythm, like a athlete cycling, rowing or mountaineering. As here we speak of meditation, for the sole purpose of accessing the awareness of the present moment, this is the most accessible starting point, if the approach is based on simple stillness and mere observation.
In meditation, there may be extremely slow movements, especially at the beginning, which contribute to gaining bodily awareness. When we say slow, if they are really extremely slow, almost stopped, with presence in feeling, we can create a moment of connection with the present moment, through our movement.
Whatever the form, the easiest to feel is what is happening with the body, and with or without voluntary movement, fundamentally, whatever it may be, is connected synchronously with the observation of breath.
The Vigyan Bhairav Tantra, one of the key texts of tantric practice and one of the sources of its meditation techniques, has within its 112 meditations, the first four, focused on the awareness of breath. It is simply an observation of breath, without changing it, or even doing anything, without putting any action.
Medit-ation, Meditate action, has one sole act, meditate. The action of meditating, in Western understanding, emerges as a paradox, the opposite to action, something for which we were never trained. We were earlier trained for action in motion, which we call doing. We live in a society of doing, not so much focused on the exploration of our capabilities of being. We are also culturally enlaced in a series of dogmas, based on the Newtonian perspective, that cannot explain what maintains cohesive reality in what it interconnects, and keeps only distinguishing the dualistic sum of the parts. Action / do not-do / no action.
Fortunately today, we are privileged to have another scientific explanation, through quantum physics, for the grand part of reality that we can perceive through meditation.
The good news, for those who feel conditioned by her own past or present, it is that everything is constantly changing. Always. Everything. In us. Although some cells, like those at the neuronic level and the enamel of the teeth, remain the same throughout our life, its molecules and intracellular proteins are constantly changing. This perpetual ongoing renovation at the molecular level, the body’s cells, throughout our life from the moment of birth until death, is the hallmark of the timeless heritage of ongoing expansion which runs through all matter in the universe, including ours. Even at the cellular level, where there is a constant renewal of most of our cells, this change in their cosmic heritage of star dust is generated at an impressive rate and constant expansion.
In tantric meditation, we can hear the voice of the divine being that we all are. This spark of life in us, our self, the neocortex ego, is at the service of Being, of the present God, and the stream of universal energy flow, pulsing like blood within each of us. If during the recitation of a prayer or mantra we are attentive to the meaning we attach to the words, we abdicate the senses and meanings as well as the judgments and constraints. If we choose the silence of active listening we enter the meditative act in contact with full consciousness, with the Great Spirit, with this set of moving atoms that form the constantly expanding universe.