Date: January 26, 2019 (Saturday)
Seminar: Topic: Meditation as a Foundation Fireside – Saturday, 26(?) January, 2019 at 6:30pm/1830hr New York Time — text format in the PSC #lecture room (Discord) — Instructor: Wayfarer — Search LECTURE59
Wayfarer: Your lecturer today may be just a few moments delayed, I welcome you to enjoy hors d’oeuvres that you can provide yourself if you’re at home.
Goatmistress: I have pizza.
Rainsong: That works, too. I’ll be right back 🙂
Kate Embers: Am here 😀
Rose Cinderfall: am here
Wayfarer: Okay, behold, I am here also.
Rose Cinderfall: beholds with her eyes the return of the Instructor
Wayfarer: Oh! That’s quite a pleasant surprise, actually. 🙂
Rose Cinderfall: …thank @Chirotractor for me being here tonight
Wayfarer: Okay, so, tonight we’re talkin’ us some of that meditation.
Wayfarer: It’s been a bit of a crazy day so forgive me if I go fast or cut short. Meditation is nice to do. But why are we talking about meditation?
Wayfarer: Specifically the topic talks about meditation as a foundation. While I am all about extolling the virtues of, for example, calm-abiding meditation in helping us find inner peace and truths and so on, it’s not really why we want to talk about it.
Wayfarer: There’s a conception I think generally that meditation is something we want to practice in order to gain focus so that we can use more of our brains. But the whole “we only use 10% of our minds” thing is a dumb oversimplification, and it’s not like there’s an upper limit on how much we can focus on something. So, meditation as a foundation.
Wayfarer: Many, most, or all of you know I’ve been developing a course on intuition and psychic ability following some research I did. When I set about designing a course, I didn’t necessarily anticipate that. In my book, Subtle Energy, I talk about meditation, but I talk about it using reasons like Crowley suggests – the more we can manage in our minds and the more we can focus on the better our ability to keep ourselves at task. If magic or psychic stuff responds to thought, it follows that meditation increasing our ability to think about things would increase our magical or psychic ability.
Wayfarer: All that stuff remains true, but I’m not really convinced that increased focus on a psychic task correlates to performance. There seems to be some evidence to the contrary, in fact. Telepathic tasks performed in laboratories under intense focus seem to be less complete than telepathic experiences that happen outside the lab to people who aren’t trying.
Wayfarer: I suspect that psychokinetic people get in their own way when they think about the task, but I can’t confirm that. Maybe Rainsong can?
Rose Cinderfall: @Rainsong
Wayfarer: Certainly people do perform worse when “overthinking” other tasks or skills. You want to visualize a task before you do it, if you’re doing archery or golf, for example; but when you actually go to perform the task you don’t want to be thinking too much about it. You want to be letting it happen, which at first shine seems contrary to the idea that we meditate so we can focus on tasks more intently.
Wayfarer: Additionally, chaos magic guys might reject the idea that you want to be focused on the task at hand. Peter Carroll, for example, suggests that magic happens through subconscious, rather than conscious, action. We want to set a sigil and then forget it, and allow our subconscious to do the work. This is contrary to the idea of focusing harder on something.
Rainsong: Re PK: Concentration in PK is important, but too much will indeed sabotage your efforts
Wayfarer: That tracks, thanks.
Wayfarer: So, if we’re not trying to increase powers of concentration, what’s the deal with meditation, and why is it so important that I call it foundational and that it’s the first thing I teach?
Wayfarer: Well, a bit more background first: in essence, all models that teach intuition have three components: meditation, attention exercises, and imaginative play.
Wayfarer: Those three elements aren’t included by name usually, but there is some element there. We can phrase “imaginative play” broadly as visualization exercises, inner life work, and so on. Examples would be a stone tower shield as a visualization, or talking to the subconscious guy as inner life “stuff.” Attention exercises are what they say on the can: things that develop our attention, not just our concentration, but the range of things we are aware of.
Wayfarer: Meditation underlies both of these. Additionally, meditation allows us to be attuned to increasingly subtle things. Meditation alone is potentially capable of bringing about these kinds of psychic abilities, after all. The Buddha admonished his monks against demonstrating miracle powers to the public, but did not teach the development of miracle powers. The Visuddhimaga describes how each step is attained. Patanjali describes a few which are attained spontaneously through meditation.
Wayfarer: If we’re talking about psychic powers and their development, then, it makes sense to look at the situations, cultures, and traditions in which they automatically arise.
Wayfarer: The next question, then, is how do we bridge the gap? What about meditation does that? On the one hand, following with the religious angles, we can see that yogis attain psychic powers through meditation alone, and the kinds of meditations they do are aimed at attaining deeper and deeper levels of consciousness and increasingly profound wisdom. Similarly, Joe McMoneagle writes that a good remote viewer has got to be open to these kinds of alternative ways of thinking about the world, such as consciousness-only models or consciousness-primary models found in yogic traditions.
Wayfarer: Of course, these levels of meditation take many years of cultivation and develop psychic ability as a secondary, rather than primary focus. That’s a sufficient answer for a yogi, but not for someone primarily interested in developing psychic ability.
Wayfarer: Why we’re going to look at doing it primarily, then, is so we can create the conditions best suited to their development. When we create conditions conducive to learning psychic abilities, our efforts will be more fruitful.
Wayfarer: A great many of us have spent a considerable amount of time trying to learn specific skills in suboptimal circumstances, and this isn’t unlike trying to fill a bucket with a hole in it. It can be done, but we have to put considerably more water into it and at a much greater volume and rate.
Wayfarer: Looking at meditation, then, as a foundation is about creating in ourselves circumstances that are beneficial for learning psychic abilities. It’s not about becoming “a meditator” or so on, but rather about developing habits through meditation that help with psychic ability.
Wayfarer: For example, calm-abiding meditation focuses on developing the ability to rest the mind. This isn’t about increasing our focus, but about decreasing our distraction.
Wayfarer: Decreasing distraction helps us to learn any skill, not just psionics. But psionics is, essentially, skill development, and I think it’s most helpful to think of it like that. With regard to psychic ability, not being distracted also allows us to monitor for subtle impressions.
Wayfarer: If we’re trying to gain psychic information about something and bring it to consciousness, we have to be vigilant, as we need that information to cut through the “noise” of so much normal-sensory data. Through meditation, we can prevent our thoughts from wandering off when gross sensations pull them away.
Wayfarer: An itch might prevent us from noticing a subtle stirring energy, for example. However, with a habit of not being distracted, we can put aside the itch and notice what else remains.
Wayfarer: This additionally benefits the “attention exercises” mentioned before. Not being distracted lets us notice things we wouldn’t have noticed otherwise, essentially.
Wayfarer: With regards to imaginative play, meditation sets the ground for trance states and the self-induction of those states, which can help us when it comes to inner life work, introspection of any sort, projection of consciousness, and so on.
Wayfarer: So, that’s about half an hour and way too many words of background. Let’s talk about meditation itself a bit, after any questions?
Rose Cinderfall: …when i joined this lecture I had multiple questions. You’ve covered them all so far, i’m just waiting for more in-depth coverage
Rainsong: The background is useful. It would be good to keep it in any future classes you do along a similar vein
Rose Cinderfall: what often got me confused was the “kind” of meditation i’m supposed to use as a daily routine, as the foundation, as there are many different kinds. You’ve covered that a bit, i’m waiting for the rest.
Wayfarer: Cheers. Okay, meditation itself. One problem I think a lot of people have is a lot of ideas about what meditation looks like without any kind of particular idea of what or why or how meditation is done. We’ve covered the why for our purposes a good bit. There are other reasons to meditate other ways, but let’s leave them alone for now – we don’t need to know a lot about vipassana for our purposes, for example.
Wayfarer: Let’s talk briefly about what meditation isn’t. It’s not “not thinking” or “stopping thoughts.” It’s not “counting breaths,” though attending to our breathing can be part of it. It’s not sitting in a certain way, or staring at things, though sometimes those are included. It’s not saying “ommmm” a bunch, unless we’re doing Shaivism or whatever.
Wayfarer: It’s also not an hours long process, or even necessarily minutes long.
Wayfarer: The Tibetan word for meditation is “gom gyap,” meaning “to press a habit.” We’re using some force to make something into a habit. What habit are we trying to make? We’re trying to break certain habits (wandering mind, for example) and form other ones (paying attention).
Wayfarer: Though it’s very trendy right now, a lot of people don’t have a good understanding of “mindfulness.”
Wayfarer: What does that mean? What does it mean to be “mindful?”
Wayfarer: Essentially, it means to be aware of what is going on at any given moment in that present moment. We want to know that things are happening without trying to make them happen or control their happening. Things are happening, I’m sitting in my room typing, people are talking outside, I’m breathing, my head and hand itch a bit, etc. These are things going on. I’m aware of them and just letting them happen. There’s actually a lot more going on as well. Our general natural habit is to jump from one thing that is happening to another.
Wayfarer: We focus on one thing and jump from one thing to another thing and we never just sit and think and observe things.
Wayfarer: I asked someone last week if she’d ever just sat and observed what it’s like to feel an emotion. What’s it like to be happy? To be sad? What’s it like to take a shower? What’s it like to be cold?
Wayfarer: We do all these things and we label them, we have these experiences, but we don’t pay attention to them in the moment.
This kind of distracted state we live in makes psychic intuition very difficult.
Rose Cinderfall: don’t things like smartphones worsen that distracted state somehow?..
Wayfarer: We have psychic ability naturally, but we’re constantly in a distracted state so much that we’re not even paying attention to our present situation.
Wayfarer: I don’t know, I’m reluctant to say something like that. It’s not really fair to say someone who is focused on their cell phone is distracted, is it? They’re very focused!
Wayfarer: There was a bunch of controversy about kids with ADHD and an observation that they tend to focus very well on video games. People would say, ” how can they have an attention deficit when they focus so much on games?” And the situation is similar: ADHD isn’t a deficit of attention, it’s an inability to regulate that attention.
Wayfarer: To a degree, we all have that. We’re focusing on reading the cellphone or whatever. In fact a lot of people are really very attuned to their cell phones, and will check them even when they are on vibrate mode in a backpack or something. The subtlest little vibration is something we pick up on even unconsciously. We’re very attuned to the cell phone!
Wayfarer: But we’re so attuned to the cell phone we’re missing the lecture in class, or so on.
Wayfarer: Mindfulness helps us distribute that and notice what is going on and be wholly absorbed in the present moment. We’re not distracted by the phone until it makes a sound. Our mind doesn’t wander to an email we want to check, because we’re being here, now. When the phone rings, we notice, “the phone is ringing,” without an immediate compulsion “I should answer it.”
Wayfarer: So, how to actually meditate in this way? First, we should sit somewhat comfortably. Why? Well, we don’t want to be uncomfortable. If we’re uncomfortable that’s going to demand our attention much more and make it very hard to actually practice not being distracted. Eventually we can get to a point where that discomfort doesn’t distract us, and we just recognize it as being there.
Wayfarer: But you can’t go to a gym and start learning to lift by picking up the heaviest thing there is.
Wayfarer: I mean maybe you can, but I’m not so strong. And if you’re so strong at meditation, you don’t need this lecture. 🙂
Wayfarer: We also want to sit stably, for the same reason. If you’ve ever been skating or done a high ropes course or so on, you will know that starting to fall grabs our attention immediately. Again, we don’t want to fight against ourselves to start with. So we don’t want to be leaning or wobbling about. That’s the traditional reason for sitting in the “lotus posture,” the crossed legs block the downward flowing wind channels and also provide a solid foundation for us to meditate. A stable body and a stable mind go together.
Wayfarer: This doesn’t mean you need to be in a lotus posture. We’re not terribly worried (at this stage) in our energy channels, and it’s a hard posture for people to maintain. So don’t strain. It can be useful to learn, but not mandatory. And many great meditators don’t sit in a “full lotus” posture anyhow. The vast majority of Tibetan monks would only sit like that while doing very specific yogic practices. Most of the time it’s just normal cross-legged sitting.
Wayfarer: The other “mandatory” thing is a relatively straight up and down back. This is for similar reasons, that we don’t want to lean. It also has to do with energies in the body. We are concerned with these, however, simply because the lean can agitate those energies and more active energies means a more active mind, and a more active mind is harder to tame.
Rose Cinderfall: what’s a good posture to use when you have to sit on the ground, and chairs or seats of any kind aren’t available?
Wayfarer: We don’t need to worry about blocking channels, but we don’t want to make the task harder by deliberately exciting inner energies.
Wayfarer: Cross your legs and rest your lower legs on your feet, back upright. Make sure to pivot the hips so the low back isn’t bent at a weird angle (this will cause fatigue) and to avoid pinching the sciatic nerves. Ideally roll up a blanket or use a backpack or anything to slightly elevate the butt so you can be sitting on three points with the knees down and the butt up. Standby.
Rose Cinderfall: okay \:)
Scelana: if sitting up for a period of time is difficult to do for some reason like for example it can become painful, would there be any viable positions for laying down with instead?
Wayfarer: First way is okay, no elevation.
Second way is better, elevated butt, knees down.
I’m on a bed so the surface “gives” a bit but it works the same without.
Wayfarer: Regarding sitting for long times, that’s gonna be touched on on another point. Yes, it’s possible to meditate laying down. It’s not ideal to start that way.
Wayfarer: Because, well, we are inclined to fall asleep.
And mindfulness does also require alertness.
Wayfarer: As we progress, the end goal here is that we want to be alert enough to notice subtle changes in our bodies and energy fields and in the environment around us.
Wayfarer: If we’re laying down our bodies will naturally want to start falling asleep or relaxing. Too relaxed, and we lose that alertness, and we won’t notice the changes. If we’re not alert, no dice.
Wayfarer: But! We don’t want to do things too long, so in a minute I’ll address the time concern.
Rose Cinderfall: What if you want to meditate, but you’re really sleepy and it’s late at night?
Wayfarer: Ask again in just a bit, I’ll get through the process then take those questions.
Rose Cinderfall: sorry :sweatsmile:
Wayfarer: So, there are traditionally some other aspects to the posture. Of them most are important but also when we add too many steps and things to worry about people are less likely to do them. So for now just be sure your posture is stable and the back relatively straight (don’t “straighten the spine,” just, you know, don’t slouch over).
Wayfarer: When we actually go to meditate, we do want a focus object. This can be a thing, or it can be breathing. We want to “rest the mind” on this object. This means sending the mind out to the thing but not analyzing it.
Wayfarer: There’s no benefit to choosing something you think about a lot.
There’s no benefit to start thinking lots of analytical thoughts about the thing.
Wayfarer: Choose a complex picture, and it’s easy to start thinking things like “this is a good picture, but it has this part I don’t like, and this part I do like, I like this part because it has food I like, and I need to think about dinner, and what will I make for dinner?” and now we’re not in the present moment, we’re at the grocery store, no matter where the body is.
Wayfarer: A small pebble, a candle flame, or whatever is fine. What’s important is we don’t analyze it. Just let the mind sit there. When you sit, just rest it there. Whenever other thoughts come up, acknowledge them, then return to the pebble or whatever.
Wayfarer: Breathing is also very good. It changes on its own but it’s always there. Don’t count the breaths, just notice them. Notice breathing in, notice breathing out. When other thoughts come, let them come, go, and then return to breathing.
Wayfarer: Other thoughts coming is not a failure! In fact, when you notice other thoughts have come, that’s the biggest success.
Wayfarer: Because that noticing gives us insight into how our minds work. Thoughts come automatically, they come and go on their own, we don’t really control them. Thoughts are like sounds, images, or so on. They are something we experience but not something we create. This is all good to notice. We want to see when our mind is distracted, because when we notice that, that’s a victory of mindfulness.
Wayfarer: That’s not to say we want to be distracted. But if the mind wanders, and we notice it, then we’re not distracted. Similarly, when an itch comes, when our stomach moves, when our muscles twitch. We want to notice these things, and we will notice them very quickly and with very little practice.
Wayfarer: So, how much to practice? Many people say we should try to meditate for an hour, or two hours, or all kinds of dumb stuff.
Wayfarer: Nobody is doing this. When we do, we become really frustrated! Even 10 minutes is too much for most of us. Nobody has any time and everyone is very busy.
Wayfarer: Meditate as long as you are being successful, and no longer. If your mind wanders off, return to the focal object. If your mind wanders off continually, again and again,… stop meditating for a bit. Take a break!
Get up, walk around.
Wayfarer: If you’re very tired and you’re falling asleep, notice what it’s like to be falling asleep. Observe what sleepiness is like. Turn that around in your mind. Then? Go to sleep! You’re very tired!
Wayfarer: If you can’t sit upright for too long because it starts to hurt, sit upright until just before it starts to hurt, then take a break! That will strengthen your back, which is good, and also won’t hurt, which is good. We don’t want meditation to be painful or we won’t do it.
Wayfarer: Everyone here is doing this because they want to. It makes no sense to practice meditation if it makes us miserable! So if we try to practice too long, we’ll just make ourselves miserable and we’ll never practice and we won’t improve.
Wayfarer: This is the mistake many people make with learning many skills. We have to want to improve, but we also have to do the thing that helps us improve. If we don’t want to do the thing, we won’t improve, no matter how much we want to. So we have to be realistic.
Wayfarer: If you meditate really well for 20 seconds, that’s better than 20 minutes of garbage meditation.
Wayfarer: So start with one minute. If that’s trivial, maybe do five minutes. If you find yourself distracted and you can’t rest the mind on the breathing or the object, then try less time.
Rose Cinderfall: Wait, so this meditation where you keep your focus on an object is mindfulness?..
Wayfarer: It’s how you learn it. Mindfulness itself is just mindful awareness, just being wholly absorbed with where you are in the present moment, without the mind wandering to the past or future or to some other thing. It’s just being fully aware of where you are with no other distracting thoughts. But we practice it through resting the mind on a focal object.
Wayfarer: Why? Because if we try to be aware of where we are right now, what does that mean? That’s impossible to describe, it’s too abstract and there’s too much going on. So we bring the mind to one thing and let it sit there.
Wayfarer: Then we watch. The historical description is having a treasure, and putting guards inside and outside. You want a guard at your own mind that redirects your focus to the focus object, whenever you try to think about other things, you bring it back to the actual focus object; you also want a guard at the outer gate, watching who is coming and going, and turning away whoever is not allowed. But if the watchers at the outer gate don’t notice things coming and going, they’re no use, and if the watcher at the inner gate lets anyone in, they’re no use either.
Wayfarer: So we need to watch our own thoughts, as well as external phenomena, and accept, name, and let them go.
Wayfarer: There’s more to it, but it’s too much for a first class.
Wayfarer: Mindfulness is the thing we’re learning, calm-abiding meditation with a reference object is the method by which we learn it.
Scelana: i have joints in my back that at times are cranky enough to make any amount of time sitting up to be unpleasant, same goes for when the joints in my hip are acting up. sometimes i can get my back to settle down with help from my hubby but other times i just have to wait it out as best i can. i have yet to find a way to get the hip joints to calm down when they act up though. a lot of my joints get cranky at times actually
Wayfarer: “Calm-abiding” in this case because we are passively allowing things to happen and simply observing them and letting them go, compared to contemplative meditation where we actively think about a thing.
Rose Cinderfall: and mindfulness is what has been meant traditionally in articles about psionics and energy work when they’re speaking about daily meditation practice?..
Wayfarer: In your case, Scelana, however you can be comfortable is better than nothing at all. The posture itself is meant to be supportive, if it’s not supportive, use another posture.
Rose Cinderfall: i.. realise that sentence is a bit vague, it’s getting late and i’m getting more.. sloppy in my thinking. I hope it makes sense.
Wayfarer: Mindfulness is a buzzword of meditation that’s very popular these days but nobody defines very clearly. I’m going to be totally honest, a lot of psychic ability development programs include meditation for no other reason than they think they should, and the instructions are pretty uninformed and unhelpful.
Wayfarer: it’s cargo-cult stuff, rather than actually being done, well, mindfully, with a purpose.
Wayfarer: One of the things I’ve been doing in developing my course is evaluating why certain things are in there and getting rid of them if they don’t serve a purpose. What purpose they serve is also something I describe, because I don’t expect people to do things with no meaning.
Scelana: ah ok, laying down is so far been the best i can do at those times
Wayfarer: But I know a lot of psionics websites will say “oh yeah meditate every day” and then if asked “why” the answer is something vague like “to make your mind more powerful” or “to let you focus harder.”
Flux: Mind muscles. :muscle:
Wayfarer: As we continue with this series-like-thing it will become a bit more clear that meditation in this case is meant to increase our sensitivity and ability to notice things more so than to increase our focus, which I covered a bit earlier.
Clovers: I have a “theory” about that if you have free time after your lecture
Wayfarer: And I don’t mean that in an esoteric way. I mean literally we just need to calm our minds down so we can notice stuff going on around us.
Scelana: i just lie down on my back instead, because for me sleeping is lying down on my side. so i have at least a position my mind don’t associate with sleep
Wayfarer: We have a lot of impressions and things that indicate intuition or psychic ability, but we don’t notice them because, well, we’re distracted. This isn’t unlike the RV protocol trying to reduce “noise” in order to let the “signal” through, because boosting the “signal” isn’t something we can easily control.
Wayfarer: And I don’t have time immediately after the lecture, I’m actually pressed right now (my parents are in the other room) but later this evening or tomorrow I’d love to chat about it Clovers. I know you’ve spent a lot of time in meditation spaces 🙂
Wayfarer: Yeah Scelana, exactly. You won’t be inclined to fall asleep as most people generally are.
Clovers: Whenever you have time. I don’t mean to intrude.
Wayfarer: On that note, if we have more questions I can cover them, or we can leave them and I’ll keep looking at the channel and include it.
Wayfarer: No intrusion, like I said it’s just been a hectic day and the end result is my parents are in my house way later than I anticipated. 🙂
Wayfarer: I was hoping they’d be gone, like, 3 hours ago lmao
Wayfarer: Rose I am sure you have a lot of questions and I want to address them all, so feel free to drop them in here as they come up, or to PM me.
Rose Cinderfall: okay 🙂
Rainsong: Thank you for the class, Wayfarer
Wayfarer: Else I will call this one here at an hour and some change, and I look forward to feedback and further discussion. I will look to do a follow up to this in a bit. I will try to put together a step by step “do this meditation session” thing over the week, and I’ll ping and drop it in here for people to practice. Then we can go step by step.
Flux: Thanks. I was distracted, but I plan on giving it a better read later.
Rose Cinderfall: thank you very much for the lecture, Wayfarer!
Wayfarer: As it happens, that’s the reason for the class itself 🙂
Rose Cinderfall: loved how you took photos to illustrate the posture.
Rose Cinderfall: I had actually gone Googling for what exactly sitting cross-legged meant.. then you went ahead and took pictures of the posture
Wayfarer: Cheers. Wish they were more clear, I will have someone take a photo instead of awkward selfie later.
Wayfarer: And contrast with “full lotus” which I can do but not on a bed with so much give.
Scelana: thxies for the lecture wayfarer, it was quite informative!
Wayfarer: Okay, I’m going to go eat and see if I can chase my parents out. I’ll check back in a bit to handle any questions that arise. 🙂
Rainsong: Be well 🙂
Rose Cinderfall: okay, let’s see..
..my mind is still processing most of that
Clovers: Pm me whenever, I plan on being up for a while.
Goatmistress: I liked this. It’s very much in line with what I’ve been taught.
Rose Cinderfall: i’m just rereading the lecture to see if any of my questions have already been answered…
i guess i have a question
How does being aware of the present moment, confer all the benefits you just listed in your background on meditation?
There was a moment during the lecture when you suddenly switched from talking about meditation, to talking about mindfulness, and i failed to make the connection
does the focus meditation that gets you into the mindfulness state, confer all the benefits you cited in the description on the background of meditation, or only some?
Rose Cinderfall: i’m heading to bed now, looking forward to reading the answers when i wake up
Wayfarer: The process of meditation generally will confer all those benefits but there is a gradual process of development. While the basic meditation does establish the basic benefits, there are stages of development that one progresses on step by step to fully realize all of the benefits I discussed. But you have to lay the foundation first, then build the first floor, then the second. You can’t start building on the second floor.
Rose Cinderfall: okay 🙂 thank you for your answer