Using Awareness for Self-healing
August 19, 2012 § 1 Comment
Meditation strengthens the ability to concentrate because it is a sustained focusing or concentration of awareness either upon an object or upon consciousness itself, which is never an object but the subject to all objects.
It is possible to use one’s psychological fears and desires as an object of meditation. By psychological fears I do not mean the natural and good fear that keeps us out of harms way such as walking out into traffic. And the desires I refer to are not the natural ones that lead us to explore relationships, our self and the world about us. Rather, I mean the fears and desires that keep us psychologically stuck, and our energies bound up in endless repression or addiction.
Many of today’s therapists use meditation and mindfulness as part of their therapeutic approach to wellness. Cognitive therapy (CT) and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) are common approaches to aid individuals in overcoming their difficulties through a process of identifying and changing dysfunctional thinking, behavior, and emotional responses. When meditation is considered in a purely non-religious context it’s seen that, as with CT and CBT, it aims to develop skills for modifying beliefs, identifying distorted thinking, relating to others in different ways, and changing behaviors.
The meditative process does this, as already discussed in August Meditations, by developing the ability to observe thoughts without becoming caught up in them or by trying to repress or escape them. These thoughts can be the fears or desires that keep us stuck. And the techniques used in meditation can enable us to see them as false and empty. However, I must first advise that those who are suffering should also seek the professional help of a trained counselor or therapist. I do not recommend anyone on the path to wellness avoid psychological help any more than I’d suggest anyone avoid their physician when they have a physical complaint or ailment. That said, let’s consider a technique I have used with some success that comes directly out of meditation.
When sufficient skill in concentration has developed, it is possible to hold a thought in the awareness and directly look at it with the intent of seeing it as unreal, false and empty. This is not a state of self-hypnosis but a simple recognition of the truth of one’s psychological experience. (Remember. I’m not referring to natural fears and desires but the ones were stuck in.)
Holding the fear or desire in awareness, focus upon it. Notice when want to pull away from it or go towards it and instead of doing so, just keep your psychological distance as much as possible. At the same time keep a knowing awareness that the fear is not real, or that the desire is false and empty. You may actually repeat this to yourself until the knowledge is just part of your attitude to the fear/desire.
As with any meditation, the currents of mind will resist initial attempts to change their course. You’ll start to think about the fear, or become lulled by the desire. Each time you recognize this happening just return to the original meditation, as you would in one where you turn your awareness back to the breath or a candle flame.
As you progress you’ll come to see more and more that the fear is groundless or the desire does lead to emptiness. But this will likely only come about as you add to your intellectual understanding of the condition and after periods of time where you seem to be making no progress at all. It will likely also become necessary to be “miserable for a day or so” as you experience the unpleasant emotions associated with the fear or desire. I’m not providing a quick fix or easy method here. Growth is often associated with pain, but there will come a time when you see that there is a difference between pain and suffering. Suffering comes from believing in the reality of that which is unreal. From believing what is false is true.
So try it. Try using a fear or desire that’s been holding you back as an object of meditation and just hold it in your awareness, neither becoming attracted to it nor avoiding it. Take the attitude in your meditation that they are false and empty. Be willing to look at the deeper emotions under the desires and fears to see where and how you’ve become stuck. And at each turn just acknowledge the thought and deeper emotion, and go on meditating on the essential falseness, unreality and emptiness of thought.
Eventually, there’ll come a time when you encounter what appears to be a void and you’ll discover that it is this void or emptiness that you’ve been running from. But if your stay with the meditation you’ll see that the void is, in fact, Fullness: the Fullness and Light of your own Being. And you may laugh when you come to realize that all this time you’ve been afraid of your own Self: and desiring emptiness, when Fullness has been yours all along.