I’ll introduce the various different types of meditation that I have experimented with and make some comments about them.
I mentioned that as a child I used to gaze at distant objects and become utterly absorbed by them, no thought involved. It is possible to while away great swathes of time in this manner. It is related a little to combing the shadows or gazing at shadows. If one concentrates hard on the shadow of say a leaf, or a tree or pretty much anything one starts to open and experience what can be termed the second attention. This differs from ordinary reality and can be quite spooky at first. In particular if one does gazing at dusk or dawn, some surprising stuff can be observed. Dusk and dawn can be thought of as the gap between worlds. You never know what you may / may not encounter whilst in the second attention at these junctures, this is particularly true when one is far away from concentrations of human beings. It is possible to enter the second attention for extended periods of time. I used to do this when hiking solo in the countryside.
Focusing on an object.
People rarely look and observe with commitment or intensity unless it is their job. I bet art restorers have a fantastic attention to detail. One can train the mind to focus by focussing on an object which may be static or dynamic. This might be a painting, a candle, or a fire. Anyone who has really concentrated on a fire say in a log burner, for a long time knows how utterly absorbing and transcendental it can be. It can be mesmerizing or engaging. Fire meditations can lead one to strange places. Again, one can focus on the shadows of a candle.
These include martial arts and possibly asana. I am not at all supple, so I don’t know about the latter. My first experience of Zen and seiza came at a karate dojo. Where most sessions would end with a ten-minute meditation sat. We also did special breathing exercises in hourglass stance. After having done 1000 high level kicks, meditating in seiza, when the sensei is prowling with a shinai to whack you with if your posture sags, is quite an experience. One can find empty mind easily after extreme exercise. As one progresses in martial arts one is increasingly present in the moment, in the zone, and there is a martial state of mind which is hyper attuned to movement and flow. This differs in flavour between arts, yet to my limited experience there is commonality. Many of these states are generative of ki/qi/chi/prana.
Do you really listen to music totally and with every fibre of your being?
If you do you will know that listening to music is a highly meditative thing. Why is there plain song chant, mantra chanting and myriad other forms of music? Because there is nothing quite like certain types of music for speaking direct the soul, not all types but more than you might think. As an art form, the pinnacle of live opera in a cathedral such as The Royal Opera House or a mass in a Cathedral is hard to beat. It touches something deep inside. And if you are a participant as opposed to a recipient the collective ritual is evocative.
This is the complete and utter stilling of any thought process or fleeting emotion, seeking that point of utter inner silence before any single nascent thought has even begun to stir. There is the point before mind, the void, in which no-thing stirs, no-flicker of idea, no germ of discussion, not an iota of opine, nor a flickering emotion. Total silence, sans bruit. The point before mind is empty, yet it too is impermanent for there must be in time an influx. Time stops but time must restart, that is Dao, flow cannot be held at bay. There in that point before mind one can quite literally see a tiny foetus of thought begin to impregnate the silence and one Knows that one is the thinker and not the thought. When one attains the point before mind one literally stops the world.
Constructive Thought Form Building or Imagination
I have done two of these Toltec Dreaming Practice and The Master in the Heart. One visualises a yellow rose, the other a golden lotus. We have occident and orient. One evokes the lightning strike of energy down, one builds the Antahkarana up. Unlike emptiness practice these raja yoga techniques are constructive, literally building by the focussed and intelligent use of “mind”.
The Zen and the Art of Laser Alignment / Peeling Mangoes / Laying Flooring / Cooking Dinner….
Total absorption in the action, becoming at one with the action and not rushing, having no goal orientation, just doing. No internal dialogue, the eternity of now.
There is scene in the film Fearless where the main protagonist tries to compete in planting rice, in rushing he makes a mess of it and his blind carer has to go out the next day and replant what he has planted. This is the antheses of Zen and the Art of..
His mind was in win-space and not present.
Hmnn, I am pretty sure that I could expand on these…