When we find ourselves in quarter- or mid-life crisis mode, the question "Who am I?" is a frequent (and often unwelcome) visitor.Until recently, the following words came to mind when considering who I am: female, wife, daughter, friend, East Coast transplant, teacher… brunette, tall-ish, sensitive, fearful, insecure…the list went on.
Once I began meditating, this all changed. Meditation gave me a daily experience of accessing a part of myself that has nothing to do with those words, a part of myself that goes beyond words altogether. I began to notice an intangible part of my being that's always there in the background, beyond internal or external traits. I began to experience myself in a way that's separate from the one-word descriptors that make me an individual, and this has given me something invaluable: stabilized happiness and complete peace with who I am.
HOW DOES MEDITATION ALLOW US TO EXPERIENCE WHO WE REALLY ARE?
First things first: when we're not meditating, we oscillate between three different states of consciousness: waking, sleeping, and dreaming. But here’s the game changer: when using the , the mind accesses a fourth state of consciousness known astranscendence, transcendental consciousness, or bliss consciousness.
“Bliss” in this sense is not euphoria or ecstatic happiness; bliss is supreme inner contentedness.
In bliss consciousness, we are so content that the mind can’t conceive of another thought that would make us any happier than we are right now – so it falls silent.
That’s right, the mind lets go of thought spontaneously and completely, which does not happen in the waking state you’re in right now. We can certainly feel happy in the waking state, but the mind moves constantly from thought to thought.
Ever wonder why we can’t stop our incessant “monkey mind” in the waking state? It’s because our mind is trying to make us happy. We replay the past, ruminate over problems, and plan out the future in hopes of arriving at a thought that will resolve everything and make us feel “all better” about whatever it is. But unfortunately, that thought never comes. Even during a rare epiphany or moment of clarity, our perceived happiness lasts for just a few moments before the mind moves on to the next topic, in a fruitless search for happiness that truly lasts.
In contrast, meditation allows us to let go of thoughts and access a sustainable form of happiness. To “transcend” means “to go beyond,” and when we meditate, the mind has the irreplaceable experience of going beyond thought in transcendental consciousness.
If you’ve never experienced transcendence, it may sounds crazy, abstract, and too good to be true. Once you do, though, it’s the real deal. Not only does it feel amazing, but it allows us to access the only place where true happiness lies: inside of you. As I discuss here, your happiness is not on the other side of a job, relationship, dollar amount, or anything else. These things can make us feel happy - temporarily - but it's fleeting. No one has ever found lasting happiness outside of themselves despite having all the "right" things, Brangelina included.
The idea that happiness lies within has become a cliché, but only if your mind has never transcended thought - and remember, transcendence is triggered by a specific mental technique like Vedic meditation. It sounds esoteric, but it’s the easiest thing in the world once you learn how. And once do, you begin to experience the "cliché" as absolute truth.
So here are the CliffsNotes: when we meditate, we access a state of bliss consciousness that allows us to easily let go of thought and make contact with the happiness that already exists inside ourselves. This is cool and all, but it's just scratching the surface. Transcendence has even bigger implications: when the mind lets go of thought, we are able to make contact with who and what we really are.
More about that coming in Part 2...