Question: “How do I go deeper in my meditation?”
Ajahn Brahm: “As long as there is a ‘you’, you can’t go deeper. In true meditation, there is no meditator.”
One of my deepest experiences of meditation happened extremely effortlessly.
I felt like I wasn’t trying at all.
I was completely content, and found myself deeply at peace, energised and blissed out.
It was like my usual small self with all his concerns and thoughts just wasn’t there.
‘I’ loved it!
But how can you achieve deep meditation?
To find out, let’s start with a bit of fun psychology.
Flow States are like a deep meditation
Have you ever had that feeling of flow?
That’s when you are so engaged in an activity, you even forgot that you’re doing it.
In Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s book, he found that in what he calls ‘flow’ states, people lose their sense of self, sometimes very often.
I know in my personal experience, my most pleasurable experiences have been when I lose myself in an experience.
Even the world famous band, Daft Punk, has a popular song titled ‘Lose Yourself To Dance’.
I do love losing myself to dance when listening to that song!
Lose yourself...to find yourself
We all have this experience of losing ourselves every night, when we fall asleep.
Your sense of self and control disappear. Yes, you may dream, but that happens by itself.
So in some ways, your usual everyday sense of self comes and goes - almost like it’s not real.
Many scientists also agrees that the self is like an illusion. I read a fascinating book years ago, called the Self Illusion, that cited lots of fascinating research in this area.
Deep meditation arises when you let go of your little self, lose yourself in the experience and experience this sense of flow.
You’re probably wondering, how do you actually get into these flow states when meditating…
Well, here’s some tips that have worked for me, with a big dollop of patience.
Step #1: Don’t try to let go
If you’re trying to let go, you’re not letting go! You’re doing something. So rather than trying to let go, let your experience be.
The whole point of meditation is to let go of doing, so you can let things be.
Let’s say your shoulders are tense. You feel the shoulders. You send kindness to them. You make peace with the feeling of tension. You smile towards it. You let it be. In this way, your shoulders will relax in their own sweet time.
Ultimately, meditation is the art of letting go. Letting go of past and future, letting go of thoughts and emotions, letting go for fears and anxieties.
And when you let your experiences be, letting go happens, and you step into a wonderfully peaceful and joyous place within.
Step #2: Set a very clear intention at the beginning of your meditation
Say to your mind, as consciously as you can: ‘Now is my time for meditation. Let go of past and future, let go of past and future, let go of past and future’.
A teacher told me this is ancient technique actually - a way of instructing your mind to do the job of meditation for you.
After you’ve told your mind these instructions, let your mind just be, and see what happens.
You may find that your mind quietens and you are more often able to enjoy your meditation. Definitely worth a go!
Step #3: Pretend you’re already ‘enlightened’
“I have arrived. I am home.” - Thich Nhat Hanh
Some people want to be enlightened. Some people just want peace of mind. Others want to de-stress or focus better.
What do you want from meditation?
The problem is, the very act of wanting/craving/desiring is the cause of your suffering. This insight comes from the Buddha - the good old second noble truth.
So....craving too much to be relaxed, at peace, stress-free, enlightened, more focused, a deeper meditation - all these desires are what are preventing the very experience you’re seeking.
A clever technique is to pretend you already have all your desires fulfilled. Whatever you want, let’s say enlightenment, you already have it.
You’re a Buddha, at last!
So now, you can chill. When you meditate, you can do that serene smile that the Buddha always seems to have.
After all these years of hard work and striving, you can finally rest - you deserve it!
Deeper meditation is not achieved by trying harder to have a deep meditation.
Deep meditation comes when you step out of the way.
When you let your experience be, you’re ‘moving’ in the right direction.
Be at peace with your experience now. Be kind to your body and mind.
You’re good enough.
You’re already home.
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