#14. Get into the Gap

Ramification: an accidental consequence that complicates things.

When our thoughts are subconsciously driven there tends to be many unintended ramifications. One thought leads to the next, makes a diversion, another subject or memory is added and before we realize it, our thoughts seem out of control or at least take an unintended (or apparently aimless) path. Endless loop thinking too is the result of thoughts going in circles by this ramification process: we search for a solution to an issue but our search may just end up back where we started.

How does this happen? Where or what is it in the brain that is driving this thought process? The answer lies within the intricate network of communication between sending and receiving cells.

Cells do not directly connect one with another. Instead there are junctions between them called synapses which are basically gaps. This applies to all the cells in the body including brain, organs, tissues, etc. A message is only delivered when the sending cell has enough electro-chemical force behind it – otherwise the message simply is not carried on to the receiving cells. Once the message successfully crosses the gap, the receiving cell transfers it on through electro-chemical transmissions to other cells. The key lies in this gap and in the messengers whose job it is to shuttle the information back and forth. When the message makes it across the gap, this is referred to as ‘activation’ and when they do not this is called ‘inhibition’.  The chemical messengers in the gap are called neurotransmitters as their job is to transmit the nerve messages. The late Candace Pert dubbed neurotransmitters, “the molecules of emotion”. There are many neurotransmitters but the most important appear to be serotonin, dopamine and GABA. Serotonin is associated with well-being, appetite, sleep and many other functions – 90% of serotonin is in the GI tract. Dopamine is the ‘pleasure and reward’ neurotransmitter, driving us towards people, events or things in our environment that are attractive and modifies our behavior accordingly through a pleasurable feeling (chemistry) of ‘reward’. Addiction to behaviors such as over-eating, gambling, sex, is really addiction to our own bodies dopamine stimulation and not really to the behaviors themselves. GABA (gamma-amino-butyric-acid) acts as an inhibitor in the brain and nervous system, the body’s own tranquilizer. Medications in the benzodiazepine class are GABA mimickers and if used over the long term can have deleterious side effects.

The gap between our cells is analogous to the gap between our thoughts. Pause for a moment withthat awareness. (You are experiencing the gap when you pause).

As stated above, our thoughts, when subconsciously driven, tend to be self-propelling, one on top of the other. The consequence is a repetition and a deepening of perception and ways of thinking (like grooves in a record). This repetition reinforces learned ways of thinking and learned behaviors, world views, attitudes, beliefs, etc., that lie deep within the subconscious. This is why change is so difficult for many people. There is true imprinting in our cell networks referred to in previous sutras as the DMN (default mode network) the brain and bodies auto-pilot.

Behavior modification and other psychological approaches to change often help some but for others the challenge of changing deeply held belief systems can be a daunting project. Indeed, many of us struggle our entire lifetime with patterns we know are not for our highest good. There is also the effect of collective beliefs, beliefs held by religion, culture, science, medicine and society that influence us on a daily basis. This is actually quite dangerous because with the presence of almost instantaneous media our opinions and beliefs about life, about what gives us happiness, and the political, environmental, social and economic views of the world around us are constantly being influenced and manipulated by minds whose motives may not always be in our best interest (or the best interest of our planet). All this influences the gap – whether we know it or not and must be made conscious so that we do not blindly accept that which is unacceptable, false, harmful or erroneous.

For As He Thinketh In His Heart, So Is He. Proverbs 23:7

Why is it that some people heal miraculously? How do we explain the incredible changes we know the human body is capable of? Is it simply unexplainable? The answer is in the profound realization of the reality that ‘we are what we think’. And this takes us back to the gap.

There is supporting evidence that the DNA within our cells is informed by the neurotransmitters crossing the gap. The DNA carries the blueprint for the architecture of our body and for each individual cell. That means the messages, good or not-so-good, in terms of stress, well-being, etc. (literally what is happening in the gaps) determine the information that our cells receive. As an example, if we are experiencing stress and our neurotransmitters relay this message, the cells will respond and be effected accordingly. If we are experiencing well-being then too the cells will receive those chemical messages. This affects the health of our cells, organs, tissues, our immune function, including autoimmune, and to a degree, even the gene expression of whether or not certain genetic diseases are activated or deactivated. So how do we take a conscious role?

Again: The gap between our cells is analogous to the gap between our thoughts. Pause for a moment with that awareness. (You are experiencing the gap when you pause).

When we experience the quiet-neutral-silent conscious state of presence we are in pure potentiality – the gap is in pause mode between thoughts. In this pause we are the essence of our being – the absolute unified field of consciousness – the divinity within – superconscious. From this depth arises impulses of intelligence, the same intelligence that keeps the universe and its process’ in perfect order – this is what is meant by ‘all knowledge is within’. Out of this depth our true identity as divinity bubbles up to illumine our mind and consciousness. The impulses create a dynamic flow of information we perceive as inspiration and spiritual awareness and eventually appear at the surface as our ‘enlightened thoughts’. Learning to access this depth, to consciously experience this, is the objective of superconscious meditation. Learning to do this will effectively change the outcome of what is occurring in the cellular gaps – we can reset and change the course of the trajectory of the chemical messages within the gaps. This is done by ‘being’ in the gaps between our thoughts.

How to Proceed

First, Do An Inventory

As a practical exercise ask yourself: What thoughts are habitual? i.e., what thoughts or attitudes keep making it across the gap? Worry? Anxiety? Doubt? Fear? Anger? Depression? Pessimism? Resentment? Jealousy? Lack of faith or trust in yourself? or Life?

Second, Read Through the List of Virtues

If any of the virtues listed at the end of this sutra resonate for you then pick just one (or two at the most) for your practice.

Third, Try This: Take the Message Into the Gap

Get a mala, or prayer beads, usually made with 108 beads – most bookstores carry these. The tradition of 108 beads is open to interpretation – once when Paramahansa Yogananda was asked by one of his students how many rounds of a certain practice to perform, he replied, “Oh, one hundred and eight.” When asked why he said, “It sounds like a good number!”.

The best time to practice is at the point in your meditation session when you are experiencing the greatest degree of quiet and stillness (but anytime will suffice).  Use your right thumb and right middle finger to grasp the bead next to the beginning bead, and mentally repeat just one time the virtue/s chosen from the list. It can be helpful to synchronize the mental repetition with your breath – try it with inhalation or exhalation and see which feels better. Then pause for a brief moment in the silence – this is the GAP. Feel as if the quality of the virtue is bubbling up from within you to the surface just as bubbles arise from the depths of a still pond, creating ripples that reverberate throughout the pond. Let it ripple through every cell of your body and through your entire being. Let the ‘pond’ reach stillness again and then move to the next bead and repeat the process. Continue on in this manner for 108 beads.

Example:

Grasp a bead and mentally repeat one time a chosen virtue such as, ‘Happiness’, experience the ‘ripple’ effect, pause and rest in the stillness for a few seconds. Move to the next bead and again mentally repeat one time, ‘Happiness’, pause and rest in the stillness, and so on for 108 repetitions moving from bead to bead.

Pause momentarily in the gap in between repetitions but for no more than just a few seconds otherwise it will take quite some time to get through 108 repetitions and the mind may begin to wonder if given too much time in the gap. One second for the mental repetition of the virtue with a five second pause would make the total time approximately 11 minutes to get through 108, which is reasonable for most people. So just do what feels natural and comfortable. When you feel like you have experienced the quality of the particular virtue or just feel ready to move on, reread the list, see what resonates and try others. The evidence of whether or not this practice is working will be in your daily life -are you more aware of the virtue? Is the gap still maintaining habitual patterns or is the virtue now more and more in your awareness?

This practice is not just ‘positive thinking’. It is much more than that. Neither is it reprogramming. When you do this practice on a regular basis you are allowing your soul qualities to arise to the surface – they are already there, no need to program. The practice is simply a way to consciously access, acknowledge and to open up a way for these virtues to manifest. At the level of the cells of the body, you are giving information to the gaps – creating the chemical equivalent of the chosen virtue. This chemical equivalency will saturate your cells with the positive energy associated with the virtues and unblock those areas that are not in line with the purity of your soul. Eventually old habitual negative patterns and the associated chemistry will be altered with diligent practice.

In summary, it is the simultaneous gap between our thoughts and between our cells where there is a temporary pause. The gap can even be recognized between our breath – at the point where inhalation pauses and turns into exhalation. The trajectory after the pause can take either a positive or negative direction depending upon the ramifications of the content of our subconscious mind and the effect of these ramifications on the chemistry (neurotransmitters) within the gaps. Within the pause is divine presence – a silent connection to the depth of our being and contains unlimited potential – to grasp this is to grasp the key to breaking free from the past and therefore to changing the future. We can take charge of this by being observant, being present, and being conscious of our thoughts and of the gap. It is a subtle awareness and requires keen perception but by following all the practices outlined in these sutras the gap becomes more and more accessible.

List of Virtues, Qualities and Attributes

Love
Compassion
Friendliness
Joy
Happiness
Self-Respect
Humility
Self-Confidence
Perfect Health
Truthfulness
Forgiveness
Courage
Kindness
Vitality
Diligence
Harmlessness
Generosity
Sincerity
Initiative
Resourcefulness
Self-Control
Reliability
Service
Selflessness
Common Sense
Determination
Honesty
Strength
Sympathy
Patience
Courtesy
Tolerance
Self-Reliance
Poise
Discipline
Purity

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# 13. The Origin and the Science of Superconscious Meditation

“Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.”       – Albert Einstein

Science is defined as, ‘a systematically organized body of knowledge on a particular subject’.

Meditation is perhaps the oldest and greatest science. The teachings have existed for many thousands of years organized as a systematic approach to harmonizing the body, mind and emotions with the goal being eventual transcendence of the mind and the emergence of higher states of consciousness (known as super-consciousness). Meditation is not exclusive to any one religion or path but rather is a spiritual practice and as such, is meant to facilitate one’s awareness of oneself as spiritual being. Contemporary scientific investigation is now documenting the far reaching physical, personal and collective benefits of regular meditation practice.

Yoga science, the source of meditation teaching, is gaining more and more recognition as a body of profound knowledge. Its roots are in the ancient Vedas – the oldest of world scripture. Some estimate 6,000 to 8,000 years old and others date as far back as 10,000 years. The Vedas contain a vast array of information that was only written down, translated and understood on a larger scale this past century. Since antiquity this enormous storehouse of information was passed on purely as an oral tradition from teacher to student. The Vedas contain symbolism and hidden meaning veiling profound truths. They were created during the declining portion of last Golden age (Sat Yuga) as a vehicle to transmit higher knowledge to subsequent civilizations so it would not be lost. The Rishis (seers) who recorded the Vedas knew of the impending dark age that was approaching but also knew that there would be a cyclical return to an enlightened age in the distant future and there would be people of higher mind who would intuitively grasp the keys to unlock the hidden meaning. As the mystery of the Vedas are understood and revealed there is an entire range of spiritually based science and knowledge covering everything from health to government being resurrected and made available.

When most westerners hear the term ‘yoga’ they think of hatha yoga, commonly known as the system of poses or postures (asanas). This particular portion of yoga science is meant as a preliminary step to harmonize the energies of the physical body so the eventual quieting of the mind and subsequent meditation practices can ensue. However, hatha yoga, according to scholars is a fairly recent development evolving much later than the original Vedic texts – perhaps just a few hundred years old. As time goes on, those who are practicing hatha yoga will glean the deeper philosophy of yoga science. The word yoga means to ‘yoke or join together’  referring to the merging of the individual self with divine consciousness – that is the goal of yoga practice. A recent documentary film entitled, “Awake!”,  the life of the great teacher Paramahansa Yogananda, had an apropos statement in it referring to the potential body obsession many ‘yoga’ advocates fall into, “Yoga is not about flat abs (and fashionable outfits)!” Indeed as the depth of yoga science becomes more and more understood, the core and profundity of the teachings will ultimately be recognized. Yoga has different aspects with different emphasis including Raja Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, Jnana Yoga, Karma Yoga and many others but all lead to the same ultimate truth.

In the previous sutras, the importance ofthe state referred to as superconsciousness and the practice ofsuperconscious meditation is emphasized. Discovering how to recognize and access superconsciousness is facilitated through the regular practice of superconscious meditation. Yoga science teaching provide the clearest and most effective instruction for moving through the layers of the mind as we progress in our meditation pracitce.

As a daily practice for de-stressing and spiritual anchoring this can be the single most important thing you can do for yourself. There are currently 100’s of studies detailing the vast benefits of regular meditation practice from immune boosting, better sleep, eliminating addictions, reduced depression and anxiety, more compassion, slowing down the aging process, effects on overall well-being to name just a few. There is even research reporting that a collective field is created when a number of people meditate together and has measurable effects in reduced crime rates in the vicinity. People close to you benefit from your increasing centeredness and life naturally flows more smoothly and effortlessly as superconscious levels are experienced. (If you are not clear about superconsciousness go back and reread sutra #11).

Make an appointment with yourself for your practice and find time every day to devote to this most essential routine. The best time for meditation is usually before sunrise if your schedule permits. If you need to, go to bed a little earlier and arise earlier so that you can allow 20-45 minutes, before your day starts, for your practice. Eat a light dinner at least 3 hours before bed the night before and avoid alcohol or caffeine so that your sleep is deep and your mind is as clear as possible for your early morning meditation session – this can make an enormous difference if you experience ‘heaviness’ upon awakening. If you are familiar with Ayurveda then follow the *Sattvic* dietary recommendations. A Sattvic diet is conducive to a physiology that supports a balanced body chemistry and a clear mind in order to enhance meditation practice.

Start slow. If you are new to meditation 5-10 minutes to begin with is fine. Surrendered prayer or reading devotional or inspirational literature can be useful too during this time, especially when the mind is resistant to quieting. Just make the time and sit no matter what – don’t get frustrated – eventually meditation becomes something you are drawn to, not as an escape, but as a profound opportunity to experience your essence of being – superconsciousness. Using a guided meditation audio in the beginning is alright but eventually your goal is to be self-directed. Meditation music as well as any external distractions should also be avoided when one internalizes attention. There are even Apps now to help beginning meditators. As preliminary supportive tools these are fine if they help prepare, quiet and calm the mind. However, the inner silence is where our attention is ultimately directed.


How to Practice Superconscious Meditation

1. Regulate your breath. Turn your attention to the inhalation and exhalation. Breath from your belly (diaphragmatic breathing) making the length of your inhalation and exhalation approximately equal. Do not force or strain. Simple, slow, rhythmic breathing is the objective. Maintain this breath awareness throughout you meditation session.

2. Feel grounded to the earth. It is important when we meditate that we make conscious contact with the earth. We are temporary residents of these physical bodies and of this earth. Our bodies are made of the substance of the earth and stars and are akin to transmission towers on this planet. We are as much apart of nature as every other living thing on this planet and just as involved in all its cycles. Our bodies are conduits through which a *vast cosmic cycle* of energy flows from many dimensions of space and time, the stars, our galaxy, our sun, our planets, our moon, and our earth. Our eyes can only perceive 1/10 billionth of the total information that rides on this electromagnetic spectrum of energy.

    Try this: If you have been sitting cross-legged for meditation try putting your feet flat on the floor and instead of having the earth energy go right up into your spine, allow it to flow through the soles of your feet. This way the earth energy is refined as it travels through various meridians along the legs before it enters the spinal pathway. This can help you feel more stable, present, grounded and less ‘spacey’.  Being dreamy, spacey or ungrounded is to be avoided. True meditation is a conscious-alert-aware state, keenly perceptive and highly functional.

3. Invoke or acknowledge your relationship as one with the infinite. Start your meditation sessions with some kind of acknowledgement, invocation and awareness of the ever-presence of the Infinite, Supreme being. Also acknowledge your teacher/s if you have any, at the beginning of the meditation. If you pray, pray with surrendered devotion not as a petition but rather for awareness of your real nature as pure being.

4. Direct attention to the spiritual eye, stay focused and still. The spiritual eye, also known as the third eye, by location at the centre of the forehead corresponds to the prefrontal lobes of the brain. This is a very importantarea ofthe brain as it is the seat of higher order thinking, concentration, focus, the executive functions of the brain. Therefore try to keep your attention there when you meditate. When the eyes are focused on one point and held steady, the steady gaze will contribute to steady concentration. If you are having trouble concentrating when you are meditating, pay attention to where your eyes are focusing. When your gaze drops below the horizon, you tend towards more distracted, day-dreaming and potentially subconscious states. If you are falling asleep when you meditate keep your gaze up, as if you are looking up and out through that point at the centre of your forehead with eyelids closed. If you see internal visions, faces, geometric patterns, flowing colours or glowing light, no matter what the phenomena, keep directing your awareness ‘through or beyond’ to the source. If your body is restless, just keep redirecting it to be still. Every time you move your brain is stimulated to a degree. Therefore, being physically still is important but not to the point of repressing the natural need to make occasional shifts for comfort.

5. Use a mantra.  Introduce a mantra “mentally listened to” with inhalation and exhalation. The inhalation and exhalation should be approximately the same length. There should be no pauses between inhalation and the exhalation. Do not mentally repeat, or repeat out loud, but rather ‘listen’ to it in your mind. The purpose of the mantra is, with focused repetition, to eventually allow the thoughts to settle so that you can experience pure awareness beyond thought. A widely used Sanskrit mantra is hong-sau. For example, mentally listen to “hong” as you inhale, “sau” as you exhale.

6. When the mind quiets, disregard the mantra. Rest in the calm alert (Superconscious) state for as long as you can. It is in that state that the healing occurs and that the transformation process is accelerated. Superconsciousness is tangible. It may take some time, but when you reach it, you will know when you experience it. It is a profound quiet thoughtless state – pure awareness. It is already present within you but clouded by mental impressions and subconscious conditioning.  It is also referred to as the fourth state of consciousness, from which you witness the other three states.

7. Before concluding, expand your awareness to embrace infinite space and radiate compassionate good-will to all beings everywhere.

8. End your meditation session with deep gratitude and appreciation.

*Sattvic* foods are soothing, nourishing and promote andmaintain a quiet, steady mind as well as help to sharpen your intellect and give you a greater sense of empathy. Sattvic foods are vegetarian and do not include foods derived from animals that have been harmed in any way. It is important that foods are grown naturally and do not contain preservatives, artificial flavours, or additives.      -Yoga Basics

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#12. Truth

Note: The words divine being, supreme being, consciousness, truth, God, absolute, source, ultimate reality, essence or core of our being, all refer to the same thing and are used interchangeably throughout these sutras. 

You never have and never will be separate from Supreme Being, indeed it is not possible. This oneness is not earned, achieved, or deserved nor is it privy only to spiritual or religious people. Whether we are conscious of this or not, it is the truth.  Everyone and everything is divine being. This is what existence is – the manifestation of divine consciousness. The nature of divine consciousness is existence-consciousness-bliss. Consciousness is self-aware of existence and this is experienced as bliss. Simple, profound, present and silent – the ‘I AM.’ Everywhere present, the only power, and all-knowing (omnipresent, omnipotent, omniscient). Therefore, there is nothing other than that – it is the essence of individual consciousness. There is not a universe of matter AND a Supreme Being – the universe IS the Supreme Being. All feelings of separation, fear, doubt, anxiety, worry and belief in ‘evil’ is disqualified when the absolute truth is unveiled. Spiritual paths simply help the individual to see what is already here. We are already fully divine. The invisible essence that is at the core of you reading this is the same invisible essence that is at the core of me writing this. Our ego and personalities may tell us otherwise…but nevertheless, the truth is what it is and ultimately every soul will realize this. Our task is to correct our minds incorrect translation of ourselves and the world around us in order to allow the divine reality to be comprehended. When this happens, it is as if awakening from a dream. We cannot know the supreme with our mind as if it were a concept. A concept is objective to us – external to us. We can only experience it or be it in reality.

The question naturally arises, if there is the ultimate ever-present divinity within everyone and everything, then why is there the suffering we see in the world and the heinous acts committed human-against-human, against other living things and even against the planet itself? What divine being would allow this?

First we have to correct any false definitions of what divine being is. Many of us were taught that God is a human-like (anthropomorphic) being sitting up in heaven somewhere at a distance, making judgments and dolling out punishment or grace and blessings depending on what we deserve. God cannot be defined as if external to us, and therefore cannot be known with the mind. The mind and its contents must be quieted in order to get behind it: to experience the divine source. Since this truth is somewhat incomprehensible to the mind we have invented various definitions throughout history. Some of us have rejected a belief in divine being altogether which, when divinity is realized is amusing because, ‘what is rejecting what?’  There are many-many human notions, names, attributes and concepts projected by us on this very simple, in essence, presence we call God, Supreme Being. It is what it is regardless of the names we give it. Questioning or being angry at God for allowing suffering is like being angry at the sun for shining equally on the weeds in our garden and letting them grow too!

The life force of you and me and everything: literally the vitality you feel coursing through your nervous system animating you, that enables you to live, to breathe, and to know you are you, this consciousness you see behind everyone’s eyes, animals included, and if you are sensitive, in all things, is the divine being manifesting. Impartial, impersonal, equally present in all but not fully conscious in all – at least not in terms of our definition of ‘conscious.’ From the mineral kingdom, to primitive organisms, to the vegetable kingdom, to the animal kingdom, to human (and beyond) are all different levels of the manifestation of one supreme divine intelligence. However, the human nervous system, and its subtle components, is unique on this planet in that it is the medium that allows us to comprehend the divine reality within when we have the correct information and guidance.
God plays all the roles. What appears as suffering, struggle, strife and evil is just due to degrees of ignorance: relative degrees of the clouding of divinity – sometimes called ‘unknowing.’ As our ‘knowing the truth’ becomes more and more established, steady and unshaken we are transformed by the unfolding of the reality that is always here. Intellectual understanding becomes experiential and our perception of ourselves and the world is transformed.

The Truth

I salute the supreme teacher, the Truth, whose nature is bliss,
who is the giver of the highest happiness, who is pure wisdom,
who is beyond all qualities and infinite like the sky, who is
beyond words, who is one and eternal, pure and still, who is
beyond all change and phenomena and who is the silent witness
to all our thoughts and emotions—I salute the Truth, the supreme teacher.
– Ancient Vedic Hymn