Question: I know that the only two tools for meditation should be either the Heart or the breath, but what do you think about the meditations wherein you simply focus on the awareness itself (like a zen meditation)? How is this contra the the heart/breath?
Lincoln: Awareness focusing on awareness meditation is effective – providing that the meditator can recognize their awareness and stay focused on it. It is easier to stay focused on the breath because the breath moves and the breath has a natural ability to create peace and balance in the mind, emotions and body. The breath is a link between all 3 layers, so it is a very effective focus point. The Spiritual Heart is an energetic center, so a meditator must be sensitive to energy to find this center within. Focusing on the Spiritual Heart will most effectively cause the mind to silence because this Divine Love satisfies the mind’s constant seeking of happiness. Spiritual Heart meditations will also generate Divine Love which will create healing in the emotions and physical body.
The “pure awareness” meditations like Zen’s shikantanza are the most difficult meditations to effectively perform because their is no focal point, only total surrender with awareness. For learning how to surrender and experience the Oneness, this style creates from the beginning the final stage towards enlightenment. A person beginning meditation will be better served by not practicing a “pure awareness” meditation because the mind is too active and there is the greater potential for error, misconceptions, confusion, feeling lost, etc. A person practicing such a strong meditation either needs to already be very evolved spiritually or have a proper teacher with them in person. Pure awareness meditations are like lasers to cut through the mind. They must be used appropriately or are ineffective.
The Higher Self meditations that I teacher will take a person to the state of ‘spiritual surrender’ where the ‘pure awareness’ style meditation becomes an every moment to moment experience. This is why I emphasize the importance of surrender. This break down will help you to understand the progress that the meditation practice that I recommend makes.
I do not teach a strict ‘do this, then this, then this’ method, because everyone is at a different place in their spiritual development. So I encourage people to practice what they feel guided to practice. This way the ego is not choosing what is the so-called ‘best’ or ‘highest’ method, but instead the Higher Self is advising from within the person which method is most appropriate and will create the greatest growth at that time.
1) Breath Awareness Meditation
The natural rhythm of the breath and movement of the body (lungs, ribs, chest) provides an active focal point in the physical body. Because most people are predominantly focusing their awareness on the physical dimension, beginning with a breath meditation is the most effective practice to begin with.
The breath has a natural link to the mind and emotions. The breath is unique in that it runs through all layers of our human mind-emotion-body system. By meditating correctly on the breath, all three layers will be calmed, balanced, and purified. The breath alone can do this. It is a profound, yet simple, transformational tool.
As this meditation deepens, the person may notice that breath appears to stop. At this time, do not be afraid, but continue to stay in awareness of the breath or the stillness between the breaths. The experience will continue to deepen, as the person becomes more fully aware of the awareness that is beyond the movements of the breath. The Breath Awareness Meditation gradually causes the mind, emotions and body to come to a state of stillness so that the person can recognize themselves as Pure Awareness and then remain in this state. This state of Pure Awareness has been called turiya, the fourth state.
The Breath Awareness method can also cause the energy of the spinal column (the Sushumna) to become active and linked with the breath. The person will then feel the breath and spinal energy moving in unison. This is a balanced experience of kundalini awakening in which both the top and bottom, crown (Sahasrara chakra) and root (Muladhara chakra), Shiva and Shakti, are awakening and growing together. This natural process is far safer than the ego-based Kundalini meditations commonly taught that use muscular contractions to draw the energy from the root up the spine.
This kundalini energy will purify the emotional body’s chakras, awaken the crown chakra and then move into the deeper Causal Body layer which it will descend into the Spiritual Heart center. This movement of kundalini energy will awaken the Spiritual Heart and allow for the recently purified human mind-emotion-body system to be flooded with Divine Love energy of the Higher Self.
2) Spiritual Heart Meditation
The mind is always seeking happiness. The mind constantly thinks of ways to experience happiness, usually thinking that happiness comes from the external world. By focusing on the Spiritual Heart center within, the mind learns that happiness is a non-physical energy experienced within our own being and not some object that comes from the physical world around us. Yes, physical experiences can trigger our subconscious mind to create the a type of happiness within, but it is the mind that creates the happiness, not the actual external person or event. And the happiness that the mind creates is a fleeting, temporary, weak happiness that does not last. As long as a person believes that happiness comes from the external world, the person is a slave to their desires and external people, objects or experiences.
The Spiritual Heart is the deepest energy center in the human system; it is within the Causal Body (Mental Body) layer. It is important not to confuse the Spiritual Heart with the heart chakra (anahata chakra) in the Astral Body (Emotional Body). The two chakras serve different functions and have different experiential qualities.
The Spiritual Heart center is where our Soul / Higher Self enters into the human system to have this human experience. The Spiritual Heart center is where we experience our connection to God within. The Spiritual Heart is beyond the layers of mind (conscious/physical, subconscious/dreaming, unconscious/deep dreamless sleep). As a person meditates upon the Spiritual Heart center, the energy of unconditional Divine Love will begin to grow within, begining in the area of the center of the chest. Placing our awareness upon our Spiritual Heart center, and having the silent inner intention (intentions are not auditory thoughts, they are silent knowings) to experience the Spiritual Heart, Higher Self, Soul or God Within, will naturally open the Spiritual Heart and more Divine Love will be experienced.
With continued focus and surrender into Spiritual Heart, this Divine Love energy will increase and expand – growing the boundaries of the Spiritual Heart to fill the entire human auric field. At this point, the Spiritual Heart embodies the entire human energy system on all energetic and physical levels. The experience is one of having a relaxed physical body (no subconsciously-created nervous tension causing muscle contractions), a loving blissful emotional body, a silent peaceful mind, and alert, yet relaxed awareness. The experience of Oneness with all Life will be experienced while still living in the physical world. The human becomes an expression of Divine Love. In the immeditate moment, the subconscious mind is silent and being deeply purified, and the mind, emotions, and body are a vessel of communication for the Higher Self Within. Here we can say that the Higher Self is being embodied and the human ego is inactive.
With repeated immersion in this Awakened Spiritual Heart Higher Self state, all layers of the human mind-emotion-body system will be completely purified as the human ego is dissolved into the greater Higher Self Consciousness.
3) Awareness Focusing on Awareness Meditation
In the Awareness Focusing on Awareness style meditation, a person turns his/her attention back on the act of perceiving. By doing this, the stream of consciousness is redirected and turned back in upon itself. This has been called “the watcher watching itself” or “the Who Am I?” meditation style.
As the person is able to more deeply focus on the awareness itself, the forms and experiences of the physical world will begin to dissolve. This happens because the stream of consciousness is being withdraw back into itself. Eventually the awareness moves into the astral/emotional/psychic/subconscious mind/chakra layer, and then eventually into the causal/mental/unconscious mind layer. As a person is able to bring his/her awareness into these deeper layers, that which is subconscious and unconscious becomes conscious. In this way, he/she is awakening him/herself to the deeper reality and removing ignorance by creating first hand experiential knowledge.
Finally, the person’s awareness will pass through the causal layer and pierce into the Spiritual Heart Center in the Causal Body layer. Then the awareness will be reunited in it’s full experience of Pure Consciousness and Divine Bliss.
4) Surrendering in Awareness Meditation
The Surrendering in Awareness Meditation method is a “Pure Consciousness” meditation method. In this meditation practice, the person simply does nothing. There is no object to focus on. Everything is allowed to happen within the person and around the person, while the person remains in the state of awareness. No effort is made by the person to focus anywhere or to control any part of the experience. The mind is allowed to do what it does; the emotions are allowed to do what they do; the body is allowed to do what it does. No control is exerted. Total Surrender is the experience. The person simply remains as awareness.
The purpose of this meditation is to detach the consciousness of the person from the personal ego. By doing this the ego is understood by the consciousness of the person. This understanding, however, involves no conscious thinking. Instead it is a silent knowledge that comes from the direct experience of being aware of the activities automatically running in the mind, emotions, and body. By remaining as surrendered awareness, eventually all momentum of the ego will run out. Without the person focusing on the ego and living through the ego, the ego will weaken and dissolve completely. This has been called the path of allowing the illusion (Maya) to dissolve on it’s own so that only Truth remains.
The end result of the meditation is like all other meditations – the ego will be destroyed and the True Self will be known.
The Surrendering in Awareness Meditation method is the most difficult to correclty perform. It has been called “walking the razor’s edge”. Total trust in the Creative Source is necessary for the surrender to be effective. Without total trust, the ego will not be dissolved completely. Any effort at all to control this process will render the process ineffective. The person must learn to trust in the Universal Intelligence and surrender their mind, emotions and body to this Source.
The Awarness Focusing on Awareness Meditation method and the Breath Awareness Meditation methods are those of the outer going inwards. Whereas the Spiritual Heart Meditation method is one of allowing the inner to travel outwards. The Surrendered Awareness Meditation method is one that allows the inner and the outer to naturally move towards each other. All four methods will create the same experience in the end, the experience of Spiritual Enlightenment.
It is important to note that all four styles of meditation will take a person to the final goal of Spiritual Enlightenment. No method is superior to the others. Different people will find different methods more harmonious with who they are. In addition, a person may find themselves naturally moving from one practice to another. But it is important that the chosing of meditation practices is not a decision of the thinking mind. The mind will continually jump from one practice method to the next and never will the person make deeper progress. This is why the person should feel/intuit which method is appropriate to practice or have their teacher select the appropriate method (only a qualified teacher can effectively chose the technique). Then the person should continue to practice this one method, and not be persuaded by the doubting thoughts in the mind.
In all of my Higher Self video teachings and guided meditation, I teach one or more of these methods. These 4 methods are the only methods that I recommend a person to practice. Meditation techniques like color or object visualization, creating sounds or mantras, moving energy / energy healing, strict concentration, etc are techniques that use the effort of a person to create changes in the mind-emotion-body system. These techniques will not take a person beyond the human ego, because these techniques rely upon the human ego to be performed. It is the effort of the ego that is empowering the visualizations, sounds, etc. Yes, these effort-based techniques will create changes in a person’s experience, and some changes can be beneficial, however for the path of Spiritual Enligthenment these techniques will not take a person to the final goal.
As we can see by examining many of the authentic spiritual traditions that have lasted hundreds or thousands of years, one or more of these four meditation techniques have been used at the final stage of a student’s practice. In some spiritual systems, only one style of meditation was ever taught. In other spiritual system, many methods were taught – some effort-based and some effortless. Even in this more complex spiritual systems, always one of these four meditation methods listed above was taught as the final practice.