Have you ever tried to meditate or use other techniques that are supposed to give you peace or make you happy and then given up on them as a lost cause? Because they either didn’t seem to work for you, or they seemed like a struggle with very slow or no tangible results?
Well, maybe the reason they weren’t working was because you were missing something. Maybe the reason you kept giving up was because somewhere deep inside you realized that it was not the best path to peace and you were just waiting until you found a better way.
Over the centuries, learning to control the mind has been a subject of constant discussion and debate both within and outside spiritual circles. People over the years discovered and rejected many methods of meditation. Wise men sometimes recommending techniques that often contradicted what others wise men recommended, sometimes even contradicting themselves.
In their own search for peace more and more people in the general public started experimenting with these spiritual techniques and adapting them so that they could be applied in their day to day life – simplifying them, extracting only the parts they needed, trying to make a list of simple ideas they could use. Their goal was simpler than the spiritual masters – to reduce their unhappiness, and feel peace, content and joy in their daily lives, as far as possible.
The many methods that have come over the years:
- AFFIRMATIONS – The first trick everyone tried was to repeat and memorize happy thoughts. “I am happy. I am a good person. Only good things happen to me.”. The problem with this technique was that a very big part of their mind didn’t believe these thoughts. The contradictory thoughts “This is a lie. what nonsense! ” were just waiting to come back, the first chance they got. Trying to drown out thoughts by yelling louder can’t work forever. When you finally stop your affirmations, the doubts will come right back. And that’s what happened. A few lucky people managed to do better than others because they accidentally discovered better techniques but incorrectly attributed their success to affirmations. However affirmations are not the answer, at least not a complete one.
- CLEANING THE BAD THOUGHTS – The next trick was to try to actually clean out the bad thoughts from the mind rather than trying to drown them out. This included methods like becoming aware of thoughts when they happen and snapping a rubber band on your wrist to punish yourself every time a negative thought came up. Negative thoughts were bad and they needed to be punished. Only positive thoughts were good. Again, while the awareness of thoughts did help, the judgment of good and bad tended to add guilt and shame in addition to the never ending stream of thoughts themselves. Now, not only did people have negative thoughts that made them feel bad, they also felt bad about having bad thoughts, making them feel worse.
- NON JUDGMENTAL AWARENESS – The next solution was to just be aware of all thoughts that came in the mind and not resist them or try to judge them as good or bad. If a thought was negative and caused pain, it was OK to just notice that this was happening. If a thought was positive and caused happiness, it was OK to just notice that as well. There was no need to fight. Just notice and become aware. With calm awareness came the possibility of finding the root beliefs and emotions that caused the negative thoughts or the pain and letting them go so that some of these repetitive thoughts would go away. A lot of psychoanalysis, journal writing, introspection, and awareness meditation is based on this principle. This is a beautiful technique for helping people in pain, however it can never clear away all thoughts because our minds are capable of generating infinite amounts of thought. You can read more about how thoughts and emotions cause us pain and a few ways you can use awareness to clear your thoughts and emotions here.
- DROWNING OUT ALL THOUGHTS – As it became clear that clearing bad thoughts, while helpful, wasn’t a complete solution, the next goal in everyone’s mind became to shut down all thought because thoughts were the enemy. They caused pain, and distraction and prevented people from living in the present moment. The solution was to try to force the mind to shut up like an obstinate child by treating it as one. Again we used similar techniques to what we used for bad thoughts, except now instead of calling them affirmations, we called them mantras. Keep repeating the same set of words again and again until the brain stops thinking because it gets too exhausted. The problem was, other than a few people who might have accidentally stumbled upon something bigger, most people found this exhausting exercise would stop working the moment they stopped the chanting. Meditating even for hours didn’t seem to give them peace when they were out in their daily life. The problem with this approach is the same as before – you can’t drown out thoughts by screaming over them. Repression is never the answer.
- NON RESISTING AWARENESS OF THOUGHTS – This was the next answer. Not resisting or judging thoughts when they came and just becoming aware of them. Not getting upset if a thought comes or getting happy if thoughts stop. Just watching and being aware of what happens. This was the technique recommended by a lot of spiritual leaders and masters. Find peaceful surroundings and just watch your thoughts. Once you can do it in peaceful surroundings, start doing it in every waking moment, wherever you are. This method seemed to get results, though not reliably, consistently or universally. However it worked, and it worked for people who achieved great things, so it became the standard with minor variations everywhere.
However, in spite of all these methods, there was still something missing. None of these techniques worked all the time. None of them worked predictably. The fact that they worked means they were doing something right, but the fact that it wasn’t repeatable meant that no one was exactly sure what that something was. In fact, every technique here is capable of sometimes hitting that special magic, which is why there are successes using each technique and so many proponents of each method.
However there is a simpler meditation, that in my experience has phenomenally fast results. Not months and years, but rather hours and days. Once you see the results, you will just want to increase and expand the duration of peace you can hold. It will feel so effortless that it will almost seem like peace was your natural state and you will wonder why you ever thought it was a struggle.
THE SIMPLEST MEDITATION – NON RESISTANCE AWARENESS OF SILENCE – This isn’t some magical trick that I have discovered. There have been many masters who have described similar ideas for ages, however the actual idea gets lost in preconceived notions of what the technique should be, as a result of which very few people seem to have paid attention and realized how simple it actually is.
The essence of this technique is the same as the last method. Watching the mind with non judgmental awareness. However, instead of paying attention to the thoughts, become aware of the silence BETWEEN the thoughts. The one or two second breaks between sentences. The breaks between words. Sometimes the longer breaks when you aren’t thinking at all for a while. Become acutely aware of them. When thoughts start again, just wait for the next silence.
You are no longer watching for thoughts and waiting to jump on them. You are watching for moments of silence and jumping onto them. Each time the silence occurs, for however long (a few seconds, several minutes, it doesn’t matter), just enjoy those moments of silence and appreciate them and be completely aware of them. Keep doing it more and more.
You will see more and more silence within a day of starting this awareness meditation. You will be amazed at how easy and effortless it feels. And once the little click in your mind happens, you will realize that this peaceful state is your natural state that always comes back on its own and thoughts are the temporary phenomenon.
And once that realization truly hits you, the thoughts go away. Even when thoughts do come, it will feel almost like you are aware of the silence behind the thoughts, and know that this silence is who you are – your true nature. This is an indescribable feeling, so all I can tell you is to try this for a few days and experience it for yourself.
I can promise you is that it will be worth the effort.