Nonduality Following Soft Mantra Practice

I posted this earlier today in the excellent forum thread Awareness Watching Awareness – Q&A with LuminousBliss. I thought it was worth repeating here on the blog in case you’ve missed the great discussions we’ve been having on the forum this week, one of which is a fantastic guide to a TM-style mantra meditation written by Arpan. This meditation is definitely worth trying out and I’d love to hear your experiences with it.


I just wanted to mention that after practising the soft mantra method on Saturday morning I got some prolonged nonduality afterwards. We went down to Oxford to visit my aunt, uncle and cousins and their children. The Christmas tree was still up. With all the little kids running around, the Christmas decorations still up, and the smell of roast goose cooking in the air, the scene was very reminiscent of “Picard in the Nexus”:

 

Welcomed signs:

  • Bliss
  • Very little verbal thought
  • Three-dimensional richness with space emphasized; far clearer vision
  • An “unrehearsed” nature to interactions — flowing, natural; solid, comfortable eye contact with everyone
  • Unity, oneness — everyone and everything is part of “this” (“me”, though personal pronouns do not really fit with this state!)
  • Sense of time essentially disappearing
  • A feeling of “softness” to everything. Hard to describe, but things appeared like a dream
  • A tangible stillness and quietness in it all.

I’ve had this state temporarily many times before but this time it survived quite robustly for a few hours when usually it breaks down more quickly.

I’ve known what I’m aiming for for quite some time (the first MDMA experience many years ago actually taught me most of the lessons of nonduality). It was nice to see that this could be triggered via a short mantra session, plus probably the preceding months of just I-feeling and other variants of Self-Inquiry.

The nondual state is such a vastly different way of living that trying to explain it to someone who has not experienced it is akin to describing colour to a blind man. Even really good descriptions can cause the issue of just inflating someone’s intellectual understanding (which is not really an understanding at all when placed next to the real experience).

I was hopeful to notice that, this time, my mind flagged up the nondual experience and afterwards thought something along the lines of, “That’s the way we want to live; we’re just tired of the other way, now.” I think these “It’s time…” mindsets are clues one is getting close; in the past the state is seen as something miraculous and is craved for after tasting it. Now it is seen more as a simple reality and, really, the only choice of state if one wishes to experience a satisfying way of life.

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35 Responses

  1. Anon Regular says:

    Have you always referred to yourself as “we”? I do that too but apparently it’s not normal. I’m wondering if that’s a tell for having a dissociative personality.

    • Illuminatus says:

      “We” = me and my brother.

      I never refer to myself singular as “we”.

    • Illuminatus says:

      P.S. The only time I’ve heard someone referring to himself as “we” is in novels and films when the author wants to make that character seem crazy, e.g. Gollum in Lord of the Rings, and I think the main character in A Clockwork Orange, too.

      • Arpan says:

        As an aside: It’s common in certain languages.
        Eg. In certain parts of India, Hindi equivalent of “we” is used by persons hailing from earstwhile royal families or other persons of high social standing , or anyone indicating a sense of “majesty”.

  2. James says:

    Very little verbal thought
    Three-dimensional richness with space emphasized; far clearer vision
    Sense of time essentially disappearing
    A tangible stillness and quietness in it all.
    A feeling of “softness” to everything. Hard to describe, but things appeared like a dream

    Those are great descriptions, its the state I’ve fallen into after that harsh drug trip. A mantra would have been a way better way to go about it 😀

    Have you noticed in this state that… nothing seems more or less important than anything else?

    • Illuminatus says:

      >Have you noticed in this state that… nothing seems more or less important than anything else?

      Absolutely! Also, “everything is in its place”.

      The state is basically the mirror opposite of the everyday normal human (duality) state. So most people do not know there is something far superior available to them than what they currently have. That is the real reason for the general lack of interest in meditation.

    • Arpan says:

      “Have you noticed in this state that… nothing seems more or less important than anything else?”

      Long been said: God pays as much attention to a blade of grass as to Jupiter.

  3. Nigx says:

    Iluminatus, reading a bit about the jhanas and all the interesting mental states one could achieve with meditation (some people saying that they are as good or better than drugs) it surprise me that one can not be addicated (at least in the same level) as the drugs itself? after all … if it feels THAT GOOD, way someone is not trying to feel the way again and gain? it could be that when the mental state is produces by the mind itself (and not by external substances) it doesn’t produce withdrawal effects, or it just that they are not as strong as drugs so there isnt any downregulation of receptors in the first place.

    Basically i’m more interested in mental states that bring me “up” (coke, stims etc) there is a equivalent to that in the jhanic states? because it seems that is more of a hapiness, bliss feeling you achieve (which of course is cool by itself) but not so much the euphoric, mental motivation you achieve but stims drugs.

    Anyways i can’t stop thinking that if you can produce the mental state of bliss/hapiness with the jhanas it should exist a way to experience every kind of mental state availabe by drugs, after all, are just chemlcals you already produce.

    Thoughts?

    Cheers

    • Illuminatus says:

      >Iluminatus, reading a bit about the jhanas and all the interesting mental states one could achieve with meditation (some people saying that they are as good or better than drugs)

      Jhana is far superior to drugs in hedonic quality because the state is entirely internally created and is therefore the purest representation of bliss the human brain can produce. It is similar to how objects perceived in jhana are far more real than external objects because they do not have to arrive through the sense doors e.g. the human eye whose lens distorts the image somewhat.

      Better than jhana are nondual waking states, which are what serious meditators are aiming to establish as their ordinary state. This is superior even to internally created bliss (jhana) because it means external events no longer cause suffering or “rub up on you” like they do in the regular human waking state.

      >it surprise me that one can not be addicated (at least in the same level) as the drugs itself? after all … if it feels THAT GOOD, way someone is not trying to feel the way again and gain?

      Plenty of people do this. They are sometimes called “bliss bunnies” or “jhana junkies”.

      >it could be that when the mental state is produces by the mind itself (and not by external substances) it doesn’t produce withdrawal effects, or it just that they are not as strong as drugs so there isnt any downregulation of receptors in the first place.

      Some meditators get no withdrawal symptoms. However some get “jhana hangovers”. More destabilizing however is the ungrounding effect lots of concentration practice can have whereby one can feel he only has one foot in the real world for some days afterwards.

      Back in September I fused jhana with lucid dreaming (something I had done before but sporadically) and spent 2-3 hours each morning living in a “holodeck” while simultaneously experiencing total bliss. Hedonically this was probably the most bliss I have experienced and could explore the worlds my mind created (usually tropical islands or arctic scenes, with the nimitta being interpreted as a bright warm sun). During the normal day after this, e.g. going to work, I felt somewhat ungrounded but it was tolerable, and some of the bliss persisted. However, on the fourth night I had a vicious “withdrawal” which felt very similar to opiate withdrawal, and which gave nightmares and pain all over. I could not “jhana” my way out of this. The next morning however I was able to create the jhana dream again which removed the pain, but in the days after that I was unable to recreate it.

      So, I experience phases wherein I can do all this stuff, but then the phases end and they are inaccessible to me. I am not saying that is true for everyone, though; some people can cultivate such states whenever they like, forever. But my experiences have always been cyclical.

      >Basically i’m more interested in mental states that bring me “up” (coke, stims etc) there is a equivalent to that in the jhanic states?

      You would want to look into practising kriya/kundalini yoga. The energy produce there is very stimulating and sexual in nature. It tends to leave me feeling ridiculously horny which is one reason among many I have switched to nondirective meditations.

      >Anyways i can’t stop thinking that if you can produce the mental state of bliss/hapiness with the jhanas it should exist a way to experience every kind of mental state availabe by drugs, after all, are just chemicals you already produce.

      It is certainly possible to produce drug mental states via meditation, lucid dreaming, or combinations thereof. If you can lucid dream you can create “dream drugs” which are far more powerful than their real-life counterpart.

      The MAJOR difference between using your mind to create a state, and using drugs, is that mind-made mental states are typically more transient and less robust (especially in the early days of practice). For example, you could use meditation to create the exact mental state you wished to experience all day first thing in the morning. But then over the course of the day interactions and events would chip away at that state (e.g. someone could piss you off or whatever). If you popped a pill however, its effects would be constant regardless of what happened in the day.

      So one of the goals of, say, Buddhists, is to create bliss or equanimity so regularly that it “bakes in” and becomes more permanent and less affected by everyday crap.

      So we are talking about long-term vs. short-term effects. Meditation is a long-term plan to progressively alter one’s mental state for the better. Drugs on the other hand are a short-term solution which creates a ROBUST state-change for the few hours the drug is active. Drugs have many downsides however, mainly to do with the fact they have to go through the body first, and therefore affect the whole body. E.g. opiates affect the bowel because the bowel has lots of opioid receptors. Jhana however does NOT affect the bowel because, in jhana, the brain only releases opioids into itself and they do not wash into the rest of the body.

      Ultimately it is not sensible to keep comparing meditation states to drugs, though, because they are very different. Meditation states involve creating new ways to perceive and experience the world, whereas drugs tend to simply block or enhance some aspect or other of one’s existing worldview.

      • nigx says:

        Thanks Illuminitus, very interesting reply, it helped a lot.

        Some additional thoughts/questions:

        What are your opinion about improvements in your cognitive abilities (especially concentration/attention skills) now in comparision with before doing meditation?

        Do you feel that you have more “mental stamina” and can maintain your focus for longer time without the mind starting to wandering to another subject?

        I played a bit with this, and after some meditation (i think i can achieve some sort of access concentration) when i try to read something after this i feel like mi mind keeps focused more easily on the subject.

        I far as i understand reading from your post, you achieved at least stream entry, and i tried to understand what is exactly the change in perception that happend after this event but i didn’t found good explanation for me (i listen a few times to daniel ingram about this but i don’t get it) can you give it a try?

        Whatever that is, was permanent for you? that new mode of perception is better than the old? … and your comments about non duality is just an advanced version of first path? maybe fourth path? (based in daniel ingram model)

        Thanks

        • Illuminatus says:

          >What are your opinion about improvements in your cognitive abilities (especially concentration/attention skills) now in comparision with before doing meditation?

          You will have to be clearer about when you’re discussing meditation practice or everyday life. E.g. “concentration” in meditation is rather different than “everyday concentration” like studying.

          The truth is that, for everyday things, I cannot particularly say learning advanced meditation has helped at all. I was already good at learning things.

          If something interests me, I will sit and do it for hours. I did that long before meditation.

          I would suggest that “enhanced cognitive abilities” in the everyday sense is enhanced by 15+ minutes of meditation every morning, and it doesn’t seem to matter too much which style of meditation is used, either. This has the action of clearing the mind to a degree, finding equanimity with things to a degree (since you’ve forced yourself to sit still and put up with your buzzing mind for 15 minutes), and your cognitive abilities will be enhanced slightly just as a result of dropping excess baggage of useless thoughts.

          Beyond this however, I would suggest that you enter “diminishing returns”. Doing high-level concentration for 3 hours isn’t going to make you suddenly be able to do amazing things like learning new subjects really quickly or inventing things. It won’t increase your IQ. It isn’t a Limitless pill.

          The reality is that high-level inventors, musicians, designers etc. ALREADY spend lots of time in altered states (daydreaming, visualizing their work, taking inspiration from dreams etc.)

          So, in terms of everyday intelligence, you are stuck with what you’ve got. 15 minutes of any meditation however will dust off the cobwebs and let you use that better.

          >Do you feel that you have more “mental stamina” and can maintain your focus for longer time without the mind starting to wandering to another subject?

          When learning how to use music software I spent 40 hours straight on it because it fascinated me. That was 15 years ago, long before I started meditating. Mind-wandering seems to be more a sign that you don’t like what it is you’re doing.

          >I played a bit with this, and after some meditation (i think i can achieve some sort of access concentration) when i try to read something after this i feel like mi mind keeps focused more easily on the subject.

          Yep, 15+ minutes of any meditation style will do that. It’s low-hanging fruit, which is why EVERYONE should do 15+ minutes every morning.

          >I far as i understand reading from your post, you achieved at least stream entry, and i tried to understand what is exactly the change in perception that happend after this event but i didn’t found good explanation for me (i listen a few times to daniel ingram about this but i don’t get it) can you give it a try?

          >Whatever that is, was permanent for you? that new mode of perception is better than the old? … and your comments about non duality is just an advanced version of first path? maybe fourth path? (based in daniel ingram model)

          I don’t use Ingram’s model for much these days. I just searched MCTB for “stream entry” however and he equates it with the first cessation (Fruition in MCTB) a meditator reaches. However there is much disagreement about that. I’ve read posts where people say cessation does not necessarily mean stream entry.

          I took stream entry to mean the moment when a meditator acquires some knowledge of “how reality actually is” and then knows what he must do to reach enlightenment.

          I have read somewhere that meditators who have reached stream entry should be able to get access concentration on any object by simply turning their attention to it for a moment. I have had that ability now for quite a few years (which is one reason I haven’t really been able to relate to the idea of “distracting thoughts” since then — it’s a stage far behind in my rear view mirror).

          My general everyday perception however is that reality is a lot more “opened-up”, meaning there is a wider “volume” in which reality sits, and thoughts themselves are seen as just objects arising within that volume rather than as some oppressive, inescapable force. However you can experience a version of this by simply spending a few days in wide open natural spaces (the beach, forests, fields, etc.).

          • BabaFella says:

            Do you believe that raw intelligence could be improved by doing magick?

            What do you think about the claims of types such as Absolutus who have reported extreme cognitive enhancement. Is it a bit of delusion or is it about having innate talent for these types of things?

            • Illuminatus says:

              >Do you believe that raw intelligence could be improved by doing magick?

              I don’t know.

              But I would be sceptical of the motives behind trying to do such a thing. All markers of a successful life (by our current standards) can be achieved with an IQ of 120.

              To be classed as “highly creative” in terms of art, music etc. you would want 130+.

              But beyond that, intelligence becomes a hindrance when it comes to “fitting in” with other humans. Do you know anyone who comes off “well-rounded” who has an IQ above 140? At best they will tend to be withdrawn. At worst, a total oddball who lives on another planet.

              (I assumed you meant IQ in the above question, since that’s what most people are really talking about when they talk about “intelligence”, whether they realize it or not.)

              >What do you think about the claims of types such as Absolutus who have reported extreme cognitive enhancement. Is it a bit of delusion or is it about having innate talent for these types of things?

              It’s impossible to answer without knowing more about him. But if he is a music producer then chances are he could already play instruments from a young age and has a higher than average intelligence anyway.

              What IS possible however is — and this is completely hypothetical — if he or someone similar had really debilitating anxiety or mental problems, and learning meditation took those away, then he could reach the high level he would have if he didn’t have those things. So it is the analogy of letting go of excess weight in order that you can fly higher.

              Most people don’t have serious mental problems though. They’re just lazy, or nihilistic, or lack vision. To fix that you need a change in core philosophy. Meditation might help bring that about; it depends on the path taken.

              The sheer number of variables is one reason I just take the “It’s in God’s hands” view now; I can’t be bothered to sit around hypothesizing about what-ifs. It’s a largely pointless exercise anyway.

              • BabaFella says:

                With raw intelligence I mean mental processing power (the amount of things that you can hold in your mind simultaneously), mental processing speed, retention and recall. I’m not sure how much these things correlate with IQ though. These terms are also very vague and there have many dimensions so its hard to say I guess. Very left brain concepts too lol. But these factors also have an interesting connection with creativity of course.

                And yeah, once you have a certain minimum of IQ you will probably be to achieve a successful live, whatever that means for someone. At least if other variables don’t hinder you too much.

                Leaving things God’s hands is I believe an important outlook to have. It works well either way, in hardship as it can take away pressure, but also in manic and extremely positive times it isbimportant because it has an grounding effect and helps you to stay modest. That’s why I love the hindu approach to meditation much more than buddhism for example, because it has looked into these dimensions and has offered us tools to implement these into our lives (Bhakti).

                • Illuminatus says:

                  >With raw intelligence I mean mental processing power (the amount of things that you can hold in your mind simultaneously), mental processing speed, retention and recall. I’m not sure how much these things correlate with IQ though.

                  I would suggest that those things are exactly what IQ measures.

  4. Axel says:

    Hello. I have a few disconnected comments and questions about this all.

    – Illuminatus, do you think that nondirective and/or self-inquiry could have a more cumulative effect, in terms of the changes/benefits produced by meditation being more stable and permanent?

    It seems to me that any experience you now have is like a level-up, and the next one will cement non-duality even further, vs going around in circles (that cyclical way that jhana works for you).

    – The “I Am” meditation doesn’t work that well for me…I get no I-feeling or Am-feeling.

    I can sort of automate it by repeating I Am in concert with the breath and then putting attention to the breath exclusively, while my mind keeps repeating the words by itself, but they could be any other words, they don’t have much of an effect.

    The Am part alone gives me a feling sometimes, but it’s too subtle to tell wether that is what I should focus on.

    Basically the main effect it has is trancing out my mind by giving it multiple things to do…but I think just putting my attention on breath is a better option, it cuts out verbal thoughts by itself.

    – For that reason (the direction the blog is taking) I thought…well another blog to let go of (I only read yours and another one…not only for meditation, but for everything). But then I may have been practicing a form of non-verbal self-inquiry without intending to. I just look for the Self inside, I look for the silence and stillness behind thoughts.

    Sometimes that stillness is elicited by reading spiritual literature. After doing that finding inner silence is easier (which leads me to think that certain philosophies lead to a more calm mind and an easier time with meditation, something you’ve been saying (if I don’t misunderstand) for a while, and on which I would like more clarity about, so if you could post a few pointers to what you think that philosophical framework could look like I think many (obviously including me) would appreciate).

    And because I can’t put this into words, I will link to another form of non-verbal self-inquiry( http://www.headless.org/experiments/pointing.htm ) and ask you what you think of those (in general, not just what I linked to).

    I’m just averse to doing anything including verbal thoughts now, as doing away with them in meditation gives me instant calm and sometime instant pleasure too.

    – I have to comment that the diagram you posted on “I Am / Breath Hybrid Meditation” was an eye-opener for me. It’s not the first time I get something by visuals…I once understood something that no verbal explanation would have worked for, but a diagram made me have an epiphany of sorts.

    I also had a really great meditation once after seeing a photo of a leaf floating on a puddle, it’s as if I downloaded some meditation instructions right into my mind (the only way I could explain it with words is it was about efortlessness and awareness sort of floating over emotions/energy).

    It’s clear to me that visual data doesn’t get as distorted to fit into the mind’s map but intead changes the map. They may bypass the left brain and go directly into the right, changing awareness and maybe teaching directly to the right brain. That could be an answer to people not getting meditation by verbal instructions…Or I may just have an overdeveloped aesthetic appreciation.

    I comment just to say that those diagrams are really appreciated and useful, for me at least.

    – I also have to say my meditations are better right after reading some spiritual text passage (lately from the Tao Te King), or even some proverb (usually connected to qi gong). I think they may turn on some right brain process (since they usually invoke powerful images and use some cryptic metaphoric language). What do you think on this? Would you recommend I stop doing this, or it’s good practice?

    Also I know it sound similar to what I wrote just before about reading spiritual literature, but I’m talking abut different things. The forme is more of a clear language thing (it’s actually christianity-like literature), while the latter is just short passages with poetic and/or cryptic language.

    – Regarding TM, levels of energy/consciousness readings (if you give that any credibility (I do)) give it a low number, which means it can produce whatever phenomena, and look like you are making “progress”, but you aren’t raising in your level of consciousness anytime soon (similar to playing around with drugs, except drugs will actually lower your level with repeated use). Also it’s thought that low level may come from the initial false promises of levitation and the business practices when it became public, so I don’t really know. That’s why I’ve stayed away from TM-style meditation. Any mantra chanting is actually higher than TM on energy readings. So I think that what you are actually doing has to be very different, and people might go in the wrong direction by comparing it with TM, if they were already familiar with it.

    – Regarding MDMA, I thought I once experienced a similar state (never done drugs) by appreciating everything around me, but I was more focused on what I could appreciate than on other things, so it may not be it…I wish I could live in that state though. Do you think appreciating whatever is around you can work to get to “soft” non-dual states, or more of bliss-states?

    – “Do you know anyone who comes off “well-rounded” who has an IQ above 140? At best they will tend to be withdrawn. At worst, a total oddball who lives on another planet”.

    Your insight into humanity is getting scary…

    Totally off-topic:

    – In “The Zero Theorem” film, the protagonist refers to himself as we, as suggested by some psycologist/psychriatist that suggested that to the protagonist, to feel that he belonged with humanity, to not feel so alone.

    I also saw it suggested in a NLP book (The Satanic Warlock). “I” affirmations would be met with resistance, so some famous guy suggested doing “you” affirmations, but this author wasn’t happy with the mind not putting up resistance, he wanted all parts of his mind to agree with the suggestions.

    Illeism isn’t that common either, and I read in some study that doing so reduced the stress response (and the time it took to recover from it) and could help to make better decisions.

    – I’m getting interested in Star Trek partly because of you. Do you actually like it, or just use it for references?

    I aologize for the long post, I’m not usually awake at this hour and my mind is totally in rambling mode.

    • Illuminatus says:

      I will answer each question later.

      For now, I just wanted to give a general answer, which I think is important.

      I currently believe that all meditation is just trying to lead us back to the right brain. They are there to point us toward the fact that, beneath the noise and ego of the left brain, there is a completely different experience playing out in the right brain. Whether you distract the left brain with an object, or go directly for that experience via nondirective meditation, the result is that you are progressively tuning into the right brain’s subtle signals more and more often.

      And, make no mistake, the signals are SUBTLE.

      The reason all maps of meditation end up having common themes is that they chart the experience of tuning more and more into right-brain awareness (and abandoning left-brain modes, which it doesn’t like). The worlds are so totally different that it is an abomination for the left brain and that’s how you end up with wacky states like “Arising & Passing Away” and “Dissolution”. By the way, it’s pretty clear to me that Daniel Ingram was only part way into his journey when he wrote MCTB; it’s incredibly left-brained and the Dark Night is, in a way, a representation of his difficulty in letting that mode go. By the time he started writing about his experience with Actual Freedom Method, he had finally started making a proper switch.

      By the way, the mantra as Arpan described how to use it is not just a left-brain distraction; it is also musical (primarily right brain) and uses the auditory system which is evenly spread across both brains. When I induce the mantra I literally “feel” the right brain’s signals and awareness and can tune into them. This has literal physiological effect such as the left side of my body becoming more alive and fascia unwinding from those nerves (I’ve had the problem that the left side of my body has been neglected for many years since the left brain is blind to the left body side. The right brain however sees both sides of the body equally well). After a memorable meditation session (after doing insight for several hours) I temporarily became left-handed. This lasted one night, but since then I am fairly ambidextrous; my left hand will reach out and pack shopping bags for example, which didn’t happen in the past.

      So, at the moment, I think you’re right in noticing that any new meditation tech I pick up just adds to my experience of “right-brain awareness”. And there are certain thresholds one reaches when some parts of awareness migrate permanently to the right brain, and I think this probably accounts for some of the more major stages of insight in the various paths.

      The bottom line is that, at the start, just tuning into right-brain signals is very difficult for most people, and there are hurdles that need to be leaped over just through continuous practice (with a lot of faith; and surrender would probably accelerate this process since it undermines ego, which is mainly a left-brain schema). After some time you get to know more and more what it is you’re trying to tune into, and different techniques can help or hinder that. The result is that a technique which seemingly does nothing for you now might work very well once you have more right-brain awareness further down the path.

      When starting out I DEFINITELY recommend selecting activities which favour the right brain. These include:

      – Getting out into wide open spaces and focusing on the distance and including the peripheral vision. Tuning into sounds all around is good too. Nature is the best for this; the right brain likes living things.

      – Activities that cultivate whole-body awareness.

      – Sports like golf which utilize visuo-spatial awareness (golf also has the above two points).

      – Mentally “merging” into other people’s forms. Examples are copying body language of people you like (this is also the best way to steal certain techs, e.g. learn to tell stories by copying good stand-up comedians). Sex is also an extremely powerful merging exercise that can induce right-brain awareness for hours.

      – Playing/composing music.

      If it’s a right-brain activity, it will progressively add to your repertoire of right-brain awareness.

      Just about the worst thing people can do in this regard is doing lots of left-brain stuff without balancing it. Computer use is the worst, especially since computers are essentially modelled on the left brain (they’re just very fast left brains). If you work on computers you have to balance it out by doing lots of things on the above list. Nature walks are the easiest. Even 15-30 minutes a day will have a therapeutic effect.

      I’ll look at your other questions later.

      • Vysotsky says:

        “– Playing/composing music.”

        Does it include drumming, or writing drum sheet music?

      • Betha says:

        “The left brain is blind to the left body side. The right brain however sees both sides of the body equally well.”

        I wonder how much this plays a role in amblyopia, where the left eye has a better vision than the right eye for no noticeable reason. The left brain should rule over the right eye and the right brain over the left eye. Of course there are cases of the right eye having a better vision than the left, but I have heard more complaints in having a worse vision in the right eye.

        “After a memorable meditation session (after doing insight for several hours) I temporarily became left-handed.”

        This should work the other way around as well. When a very strongly right-handed person (or having the right side of the body dominant in general) starts doing more with their left side of the body, wouldn’t this be a balancing and holistic “treatment” for the brain? If a person were to develop the left and the right side of their body to the same level so that they perform equally, shouldn’t this be a slow activation of the right brain? Granted it might not be as powerful and prominent as meditating, but I reckon it works this way round too. The energy flows both ways if everything is connected.

        • Betha says:

          I admit, I posted this comment before I read the whole text. You talking about composing music, walking in nature and cultivating whole-body awareness answers the second question very clearly.

        • Illuminatus says:

          Eyes are a strange one. As far as I know, the muscles are controlled contralaterally as you would expect. However, each eye itself is split in half, with the left sides of each eye being perceived by the right hemisphere, and vice versa. To add to the confusion, the right eye perceives the widefield including peripheral vision. The left however only perceives whatever is in focus, in the centre (which sums up the two brains: the right brain perceives the whole; the left only perceives items of interest).

          People with only their left brain working tend to have tunnel vision and get transfixed by objects in the centre of vision, unable to move attention away from that thing. So McGilchrist reports one such person trying to walk into a room but being unable to drag himself away from the door handle he just operated.

          If you write a list of everything we consider “ego” to be, and place it next to a list of the left brain’s tendencies and functions, they will tend to stack up neatly.

    • Illuminatus says:

      – Illuminatus, do you think that nondirective and/or self-inquiry could have a more cumulative effect, in terms of the changes/benefits produced by meditation being more stable and permanent?

      No idea. But I believe nondirective to probably be quicker in terms of “awareness getting to know awareness”. With directive you would eventually have to drop the object anyway to realize Self.

      – The “I Am” meditation doesn’t work that well for me…I get no I-feeling or Am-feeling.

      You are probably not used to noticing subtle energetic differences yet. Awareness has to become refined through practice. Probably any kind of practice will increase fineness of awareness.

      It is a little bit like asking if someone can perceive the difference in feeling between seeing the colour blue vs. red. Most people won’t really have a perception of the subtle difference in feeling. Yet it is embedded in our language that blue=sad or calm, red=angry, danger etc. Language was formed at a time when people were more sensitive to right-brain signals.

      – For that reason (the direction the blog is taking) I thought…well another blog to let go of (I only read yours and another one…not only for meditation, but for everything). But then I may have been practicing a form of non-verbal self-inquiry without intending to. I just look for the Self inside, I look for the silence and stillness behind thoughts.

      Then you are already practising Self-Inquiry / Awareness Watching Awareness. Keep it up! Do what feels natural.

      [Skipped some questions]

      – I have to comment that the diagram you posted on “I Am / Breath Hybrid Meditation” was an eye-opener for me. It’s not the first time I get something by visuals…I once understood something that no verbal explanation would have worked for, but a diagram made me have an epiphany of sorts.

      You probably have a strong inclination towards the visual system and can convert between energy and visuals (using visuals to create an energetic effect). You could probably exploit that perhaps by using kasinas (e.g. fire) or energy visualizations for kundalini, if you wanted to “make something happen” (though this should probably be considered an experiment or fun thing to try rather than becoming your regular type of practice).

      Also, the CMR meditation (search these comments) uses the eyes (even though it is just the command to rest the eyes, as a visual person myself I always found this very powerful for the rest of my body/mind).

      – I also have to say my meditations are better right after reading some spiritual text passage (lately from the Tao Te King), or even some proverb (usually connected to qi gong). I think they may turn on some right brain process (since they usually invoke powerful images and use some cryptic metaphoric language). What do you think on this? Would you recommend I stop doing this, or it’s good practice?

      Scripture is highly suggestive; so is any good story. It can stroke your mind into specific modes or have it follow various themes. If you find you can surrender more following reading, why not read before every practice?

      Funny aside: I used to watch Legend of the Seeker before doing gambling magick. The show is so colourful, playful and silly, and has so much magic in it, I found it very easy to trigger an Arising & Passing Away and get right into a magickal mindset after watching it. One of my best memories is watching that show on LSD.

      – Regarding TM, levels of energy/consciousness readings (if you give that any credibility (I do)) give it a low number, which means it can produce whatever phenomena, and look like you are making “progress”, but you aren’t raising in your level of consciousness anytime soon (similar to playing around with drugs, except drugs will actually lower your level with repeated use). Also it’s thought that low level may come from the initial false promises of levitation and the business practices when it became public, so I don’t really know. That’s why I’ve stayed away from TM-style meditation. Any mantra chanting is actually higher than TM on energy readings. So I think that what you are actually doing has to be very different, and people might go in the wrong direction by comparing it with TM, if they were already familiar with it.

      I don’t really know what the hell you’re talking about, but I would suggest that if you know how to watch awareness itself then it’s all “progress”, whatever you do.

      My view on drugs is that any lesson they can give you will usually be delivered on the very first use. If you can decipher the lesson then you will have made progress.

      – Regarding MDMA, I thought I once experienced a similar state (never done drugs) by appreciating everything around me, but I was more focused on what I could appreciate than on other things, so it may not be it…I wish I could live in that state though. Do you think appreciating whatever is around you can work to get to “soft” non-dual states, or more of bliss-states?

      There are no such thing as “soft non-dual states”; you are either in nonduality or you aren’t. What happens though is the ego brings you out of it. So, skill or progress should be measured in how long you remain in nondual states at a time, with the final event being a permanent cross over the line into it always.

      Really, just about any tech can give you a taste of nonduality. I remember even NLP auto-suggestions working the first time I tried them. The problem is that the ego then pulls you out of nonduality after some time (ranging from seconds up to weeks in some bizarre cases). The way it does this is by making the nonduality state into a “tool” to advance its own agenda. This is how you end up in the Cycle of Magic Bullets.

      What you require to exit this loop is a philosophical shift. This pulls the rug out from under the ego as it redefines the goals to which it is working.
      One way (among many) to do this is to give the ego what it wants over and over again till it realizes that those things won’t make it permanently happy. In response it either keeps chasing them to drip-feed itself pleasure or it gets tired and gives up the fight. When the latter happens you have a de facto philosophical shift since the goals have become something else (though what those are depends on the person and what they’ve been exposed to).

      – In “The Zero Theorem” film, the protagonist refers to himself as we, as suggested by some psycologist/psychriatist that suggested that to the protagonist, to feel that he belonged with humanity, to not feel so alone.

      Possibly. Or perhaps the left brain has become aware of another brain sat right next to it with a different personality.

      – I also saw it suggested in a NLP book (The Satanic Warlock). “I” affirmations would be met with resistance, so some famous guy suggested doing “you” affirmations, but this author wasn’t happy with the mind not putting up resistance, he wanted all parts of his mind to agree with the suggestions.

      It likely depends on each person and his response to things like authority (e.g. does he respond to his parents’ voices giving him commands in his own head, or is he likely to rebel against installed commands for that reason?).

      This is the sort of thing that needs to be discovered on an energetic level (which is how I came up with my diagrams). The energies (patterns of movement within the body, what I used to call “the kinaesthetic” after the NLP term) tell you everything about yourself and other people. Not only are they “pre-thought”; they’re “pre-emotion”.

      – I’m getting interested in Star Trek partly because of you. Do you actually like it, or just use it for references?

      I love The Next Generation and have seen each episode at least ten times (with the unfortunate effect that I have now worn them all out; their replay value is not that high). I like TNG films, too, especially First Contact.

      I also liked Enterprise, and I admit this was largely to do with T’Pol who I fancied more than any other alien ever. However I have no intention to rewatch Enterprise; it has little replay value for me.

      I don’t really like any of the other series. I tried to get into The Original Series recently but found it unbearable to watch. Here are some reasons:

      – Looks like shit. Nothing they could do about that at the time, but I am under no illusion I am on a spaceship. Compare that to TNG which instantly felt like a real spaceship to me.

      – Paced like a snail. We all know what’s happening 20 minutes before the crew does and are screaming at the set. They could make the episodes half the length and not lose anything.

      – Kirk is a terrible captain. Even in the first episode he just keeps sending lone crewmen off on their own to search for something and is surprised when, every time, they are found dead. He repeats this pattern like THREE TIMES.

      – Shit music. Ever-present brass. “BLARE BLARE BLARE” for every little thing.

      – Very dated. I’m no feminist but the crew act like a drunk football team, saying things like, “Hey, I wouldn’t mind getting to Warp 2 with her, know what I mean?” [Wink] I keep expecting them to jump out and literally slap the women on the ass.

      I got I think around four episodes in before calling it a day.

  5. Betha says:

    I wrote the eyes the wrong way around. If the left brain is dominant, then the right eye should have a better vision according to the theory. My bad.

    • Illuminatus says:

      Meditation is known to spontaneously improve eyesight (meaning, you go from blurry vision to totally clear vision after a meditation session — it is a known thing, and I experience it literally all the time). My theory here is that people with poor vision are focusing on an average distance between the thing they are looking at, and the imaginary conceptual thought playing out close to their face. Meditation drops the conceptual thoughts and lets the eyes just focus on the thing they’re looking at. No doubt it hands control over to the right brain, too, which probably makes better use of the whole visual field to create a better picture.

      • Morgan says:

        The CMR meditation is still working for me, and getting deeper. However instead of my eyes now “finely vibrating”, they are violently swivelling around. I am at the point where I can let this happen for a few seconds, before getting pulled back into thoughts. The “pulled back into thoughts” corresponds with being “tugged” along by an eye movement. When I maintain a distance between myself the “eye movements”, they are “let go”, which I can feel in the back of my head, neck, etc. It is a tangible feeling of release, accompanied by a deepening and softening of awareness in the eyes and forehead.

        Thing is, I’m not sure If I’m doing CMR anymore. What should I focus on, returning visual awareness to the comfort zone, or allowing these eye movements to happen? The eye movements necessarily move my attention zone all around.

        • Illuminatus says:

          >Thing is, I’m not sure If I’m doing CMR anymore. What should I focus on, returning visual awareness to the comfort zone, or allowing these eye movements to happen? The eye movements necessarily move my attention zone all around.

          It’s a good question and I’d like Arpan’s input too.

          This decision right now is really what determines what “type” of meditation you are doing. Here are some suggestions as to what they might be. Please remember I am a “lay meditator” so take these as being judgment calls.

          >The “pulled back into thoughts” corresponds with being “tugged” along by an eye movement.

          1) I learned to completely suppress these eye movements and I described what this resulted in here: http://www.personalpowermeditation.com/how-i-discovered-access-concentration-and-jhana/

          It is very difficult to remember “how” I did this (and much of my post may be “retconned” into Buddhist language, so take it with a pinch of salt). However, it was something like, “sending a mental signal to have the eyes lightly rest in the centre”. So, this was very directive, because it resisted the violent eye-pulls correlating with thoughts. The result was that thoughts eventually “gave up” and I would settle into jhana. The time period till that would happen however was rather random; sometimes minutes, sometimes a couple of hours. It’s hard to keep track of what happened with that tech; I feel like it “built itself in” so I was always “looking through thoughts” after some weeks or months. However, I also have the feeling that suppressing those thoughts for the sake of concentration may have caused its own “backlog” or tying myself into knots in some way that was less obvious at first.

          2) “True” nondirective meditation would have you NOT impede those eye movements but rather let the thought and eye movements and whatever else wants to happen, happen. In this way you build a stronger relationship with “allowing what is”, which will probably be better for you in the long run but may delay access to the more “firework” states of hard, fast concentration. Then again, when I practised Ajahn Brahm’s jhana method which is far more to do with letting go and letting things play out, the jhana was more robust and “suffusive” than my “fast” ones. The “fast” ones also require an intensity of control most people are not able to easily reach for.

          3) Currently I’m practising CMR but also bringing awareness to the audio tones that play out in my head, plus any ambient external sounds. The result is that the eyes DO move around of their own accord, but I am also opening up the audio sense door — by JUST LISTENING — so my awareness is more spread over the whole sense field. The result of this is the very happy result that I do not get involved with what the eyes do — so they move but it doesn’t pull my attention away. This has led to a far more “accepting what is” meditation which I had been looking for. It is the most “true” nondirective meditation I have practised so far because it does not seek to alter what is already going on. There is still “direction” however because I am intentionally opening up the audio sense door — BUT I am not controlling it by singing a mantra to it, so it is far more “nondirective” in that respect. I am simply listening to what is going on already.

          So I have nothing definitive here but hopefully some of these ideas will help.

          As a general guide:
          “Accepting what is” = nondirective
          “Controlling attention towards some things and away from others” = directive

          Evidently all meditation falls on a spectrum between the two extremes. No sitting meditation is “100% nondirective” because you have directed yourself to sit, which goes against the existing urges.

          • Arpan says:

            “What should I focus on, returning visual awareness to the comfort zone, or allowing these eye movements to happen? The eye movements necessarily move my attention zone all around.”
            For NDM latter is the correct approach. Relaxation/Effortlessness/Surrender are the alpha and omega of NDM. That the latter approach is correct on these parameters is evidenced by this statement:
            “When I maintain a distance between myself the “eye movements”, they are “let go”, which I can feel in the back of my head, neck, etc. It is a tangible feeling of release, accompanied by a deepening and softening of awareness in the eyes and forehead.”

            Different NDM techs are only so many ladders available to reach this Effortless Awareness(EA) and hence one must not worry about the ladder one is treading, whether it is the same as the one he had started with etc as long as he is nearing or has reached EA. To worry about the tech at the expense of EA is putting the cart before the horse.

            Still is a novice wants the comfort of a “structured” practice and wanna ensure that he is still followimg the tech he started with(CMR), one must return to the ACZ(or the object corresponding to his tech) when:
            1. He becomes aware that he has been pulled of it, AND
            2. It’s effortless to do so. As in, it’s easier/takes less effort/doing to return to the ACZ than to indulge in what the mind is doing currently.

            If it takes effort to return to ACZ and it’s easier to simply remain in EA of all the mental/occular activity, then just remain in such EA.
            Let’s not forget the original purpose of determining the ACZ initially: to find a place where mind and eyes can rest most effortlessly. If , at the present moment, that restfulness/EA lies somewhere else eg in just watchinh everything that’s going on, then the purpose of returning to the ACZ is already fulfilled. Infact, that very area has become the ACZ for this particular moment.

            Also, I will repeat my suggestion for learning restful-gazing in one earlier comment:
            http://www.personalpowermeditation.com/i-am-breath-hybrid-meditation/#comment-100550

            “Evidently all meditation falls on a spectrum between the two extremes. No sitting meditation is “100% nondirective” because you have directed yourself to sit, which goes against the existing urges.”
            That would be a mistaken view IMO. It is again, an interpretation of NDM reality tunnel via a Directive lens, which seems to make logical sense on the surface but kills the “feeling” subtleties. An analogy:
            You are like a parent and mind is like an errant child. Mind, like a child has no self-power(as it does not have a body, it cannot effect things without your support). Now you can deal with the child in 2 ways:
            1. Directive: You berate/puniah the child, force him to obey your will and not constantly nag you for this or that. If you are more unrelenting in your action than the child is in his error, he might grudgingly make a show of obeying you and resume it’s agendas in some form(verbal thoughts or uncomfortable nagging feelings) again when you are off his back in order to get on your nerves again. He basically thrives on your attention.

            2. Non Directive: you just sit back amused and look at him raising his tantrum, with ease. He tells you: I wanna do X. You say, fine, go and do it on your own, I am just chilling here. By and by the child comes to respect the fact of your nonchalant self-mastery, and you become the cool guy in the room.

            3. Imperct NDM: you sit, resisting the urge to control the child, constantly telling yourself that you must not pay attention to his antics.

            It is the 2nd that is the ideal. Now I find Eckhart Tolle and Summa Iru(especially in all his youtube vids) as quite perfect exponents of NDM. Most if their slightly Directive techniques seem to have come up when people were unable to understand 100% NDM. They always revert to “surrendering to/accepting what is” and “resting in presence” etc.. Summa Iru makes his view crystal clear in response to a similar question in the lone comment on this video:
            https://youtu.be/1HTv0FgiK5Y

  6. Axel says:

    Thank you for all the answers, they’ve been very helpful.

    – I’ll try to add more right-brain activities to my daily life…I do spend all day on the computer. And my relaxation activities are reading (non-fiction, mind you) and playing videogames…

    I sometimes shift into my peripheral vision when I wake up, before leaving the bed. Sometimes I get some visuals of being in a space station or just visions of outer space. It gives me clarity and “openness”, but it doesn’t last long. And honestly it’s no habit.

    I’ll try CMR and see how it goes.

    – You surely have seen something like this ( https://consciousdancer.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/The-Hawkins-Scale-of-Consciousness.jpg ). Those emotion scales spread to everything else. Those numbers are very revealing actually when it comes to gurus and their whereabouts. Most meditation techniques land one in the 500s-love range for the time they are being practiced. You might find it interesting to look more into this. The scale I use is Frederick Dodson’s “Levels of energy” book. Not David Hawkins map of consciousness. Though I think it was him who popularized the concept in his “Power vs Force” book.

    – I’d be interested in hearing about your success with auto-suggestion sometime :P.

    The left brain turning experience into a “tool” is something I’m really tired of…it just exhaust the number of techniques that work for me, so I get into that cycle of always looking for the next shiny tech. It really tires me.

    – I need to become aware of those kinaesthetics. I’ve suspected that they revealed other people’s intentions for a while. It recently happened to me with a girl. I got a dubious first impression, but when I got to know her she was like a female (only she’s hotter) version of me…until she wasn’t. I’m going to pay more attention to those things from now on.

    – I only began getting interest in the series after watching the TNG movies. I liked a original one, but mainly for Spock…Kirk is really a terrible captain. I tried to watch the series in the order they were published…I didn’t even finish the first TOS episode. Well, one of them, because it has like three first episodes (if you count the two pilots). Plus I have the remastered version and I don’t understand many words, the audio is really terrible, I didn’t get the dubbed version to be reading subtitles.

    So again, thank you for your thoughtful answers.

    • Illuminatus says:

      – You surely have seen something like this ( https://consciousdancer.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/The-Hawkins-Scale-of-Consciousness.jpg ). Those emotion scales spread to everything else […]

      I think Steve Pavlina used to refer to that scale, so I have seen it before. But you realize that was just made up by some guy, right? Why are we putting authority on it just because it’s “out there”? Also, who is deciding where various gurus go on the scale? It’s all a little bit presumptuous if you ask me.

      – I’d be interested in hearing about your success with auto-suggestion sometime :P.

      Success with NLP autosuggestion tended to last at most a few days. I considered it to work primarily as a distraction from unwanted thoughts rather than as a solution to the emotional issue behind those thoughts.

      – The left brain turning experience into a “tool” is something I’m really tired of…it just exhaust the number of techniques that work for me, so I get into that cycle of always looking for the next shiny tech. It really tires me.

      The key to breaking the cycle is to practise meditations that accept “what is”. Nondirective is inherently of that type because it does not use objects so can only deal with “what is”.

      – I need to become aware of those kinaesthetics. I’ve suspected that they revealed other people’s intentions for a while. It recently happened to me with a girl. I got a dubious first impression, but when I got to know her she was like a female (only she’s hotter) version of me…until she wasn’t. I’m going to pay more attention to those things from now on.

      You should look into Jung’s “Anima” concept. Basically you project your female side onto women and hallucinate they are your perfect match:

      • Axel says:

        “But you realize that was just made up by some guy, right? Why are we putting authority on it just because it’s “out there”? Also, who is deciding where various gurus go on the scale? It’s all a little bit presumptuous if you ask me.”

        -There’s no way for me to answer that, honestly. Scales have been here for a while though(tamas-rajas-sattva, astral-mental-causal, etc). According to the “researchers” themselves, humans don’t meausre Truth, consciousness does 😉 I understand your skepticism, and I’m not going to try and sell the scale to you. I’m the type of person that needs some map to navigate a field, and this one does the trick.

        “You should look into Jung’s “Anima” concept. Basically you project your female side onto women and hallucinate they are your perfect match”

        – My reaction to this was: why? I don’t get it. Isn’t that projecting process just the way love works? Or were you suggesting I didn’t have that much in common with that girl?

        • Illuminatus says:

          – It recently happened to me with a girl. I got a dubious first impression, but when I got to know her she was like a female (only she’s hotter) version of me…until she wasn’t.

          I am suggesting she was never a “female version of you” but rather you projected what you wanted to see onto her. Then the process expires (it tends to have a built-in termination date) and suddenly… “she wasn’t”.

          So reading energy/intention patterns would not have had any effect on your projecting an anima onto her.

          A little piano piece I wrote a few years ago about the anima. 🙂
          https://soundcloud.com/bobby-badass/anima-whichever-form-you-take

          • Axel says:

            I do understand what you mean now. Apparently I’m psycholoically far-sighted.

            I honestly think that is a nice composition. And if that SC account is yours, nice job on the other ones too :P. They sound perfect for a sci-fi/fantasy show/movie soundtrack and clearly have a lot of thought put into them.

            P.S: Thanks for your patience.

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