I Am / Breath Hybrid Meditation
This is not an “official” Self-Inquiry / I-feeling / Awareness Watching Awareness meditation. Nor is it my final word on those things.
In fact this is a hybrid meditation I have created, aimed at beginners (and anyone else wanting to try it), to see if the “self-point” feature of the Self-Inquiry meditations can be transferred to beginners for more rapid progress in developing restful and blissful states.
The following description comes from my own model and I don’t have science to back it up. However, the results have spoken for themselves, in my experience.
The meditation should be conducted in the language you spoke before the age of seven. At this point in time, your brain was still primarily in the right-brain modality and the simple words learned carried strong emotional and energetic currents which defined your relationships with the world.
The English words in this meditation are “I am”. “I” is a self-point which strongly activates attention in all brain areas towards the organism’s centre, or its sense of being an independent perspective within the sea of awareness we call reality. “Am” means a state of existing, and is completely neutral, causing the organism to simply “rest in its own nature”.
Use the words of the language you first learned as a child, as these will (presumably) be more evocative of the fundamental energies we are trying to trigger.
- French: “je suis”
- German: “ich bin”
- Sit or lie in your usual meditation position. Posture is not really important and I don’t want it to become a distraction.
- Close your eyes.
- Smile softly, and remain smiling.
- On the in-breath, in your mind, say “I”.
- On the out-breath, in your mind, say “am”.
- Repeat for the whole session.
- I would recommend trying this for at least 30 minutes per session.
- Breaths can simply occur at their own rate and do not need to be controlled or timed (although I have found they will automatically become regular in this meditation, balancing out to around 3-5 seconds per in or out, or 6-10 seconds for a full breath cycle).
- The words are not to be used as a mantra or chant. So, you are not repeating “I, I, I, I”, “am, am, am, am” mindlessly. Rather, you say “I” while simultaneously noticing (and absorbing into) a feeling that arises as a result of that self-point. Then say “am” and notice a feeling that occurs as a result of that word. It is an intelligent engagement with the self. However, please practise the meditation in the most simple way as outlined in Method above for a few sessions before getting into worrying about “doing it right”: the truth is that most of the positive effects of this meditation appear to arise “by themselves”, and continue manifesting after the meditation, and do not require exertion!
- Completely give up the goal of reaching jhana or some altered state. Instead, simply notice the niceness of the gentle changing energy currents caused by both “I” and “am” and the breath and simply try to settle into those currents or states of being as they arise and pass. Relinquishing the quest for bliss actually makes it far more likely to happen, and this meditation (and variants of Self-Inquiry generally) provide the fastest routes to bliss and relaxation in my experience.
- In corollary to this, the “goal” of this meditation (the one you are reading, not official Self-Inquiry practices) is actually to become more at home in the body — more embodied — rather than trying to “escape” the body. So, in fact, this meditation should make the body a more comfortable home in which to dwell, and you should revel in the experience of being embodied, and bask in the gentle blissful energy currents that the meditation produces in the body (and later the mind).
- There are positive after-effects of this meditation whether some desired state was reached or not. In my writings going forward I am going to be instructing that people give up the pursuit of altered states as it appears to be a massive hindrance for most people.
- Those who are advanced enough to detect energy patterns will hopefully notice:
- A “gathering up” of energy in a central upward line, up the spine, during the in-breath/”I”. This will tend to be more stimulating.
- A total letting go and dispersal of energy downward across the whole body during the out-breath/”am”. This will tend to be more relaxing. In fact, the am-feeling is the most relaxing feeling I have ever come across and is fully jhana-capable just on its own, but I do not want to distract you with talk of jhana.
See image below for a diagram of these energy patterns. Do not try to force these energy flows or mentally create them – they happen completely by themselves as a result of the invocation of the words “I” and “am”. You really do not have to do much in this meditation at all!
- You will hopefully also find that the “self-point” energy of both phases becomes most strongly noticeable at the heart area. I recommend doing the most simple form of the meditation as outlined in Method above for a few sessions before making notes about this or anything else. However, if the “heart” feeling does not begin to become noticeable within a few sessions, you can begin saying “I” and “am” at the heart area to induce it, and then stay there with it, and see how that goes.
- This meditation radically improved posture for me and began to finally fix some lifelong problems. These improvements accrue over time and should not be rushed.
- Finally, “I” and “am” can be used independently if you prefer one over the other. For example, my just saying “am” then absorbing into the totally blissful downward “settling” energy it produces is the most instantly relaxing meditation I have ever found and can be used to enter classical jhana just by staying with the “am-feeling” pleasure on both in- and out-breaths. The am-feeling is a total “okayness with everything”. It is based in body bliss and relaxation response. The I-feeling used on its own however can be incredibly stimulating and energizing, and eventually attaches to something “beyond” or transcending the body. This is all I am willing to say on the matter at the moment however as I need to learn more about the origin and more “official practice” of Self-Inquiry before further sticking my oar in.
These are just some of my initial findings playing with these kinds of meditations. I am in an early stage with it so expect my views and instructions to change over time.
I am eager to know your results. Please go to the Method section and practise it for 30 minutes just with those simple instructions. Please disregard the Notes section until you have practised at least a few sessions with just the basic instructions. After that you can look at the notes and try to bring some of them into the meditation if necessary.
Thanks, and Happy New Year!