Responses to our readers’ questions which may assist others

How do you emotionally detach from a desire? I of course am quite familiar with the meditation techniques you suggest and use them regularly but when not in meditation, my mind still rockets back to my desires like a magnet. How can I conquer the raging impatience, doubt, and emotional attachment surrounding the desires?

It is a discipline and requires continued practice. Be easy on yourself. Continue using the techniques. Eventually the effects will be felt in your day to day activities. It has been a lifetime of emotional responses that cannot be undone overnight!

A desire in and of itself is not harmful. It is quite natural. First determine if the fulfillment of this desire will bring you more peace of mind or will it only ultimately bring more stress and chaos? If the answer is peace of mind, use the third eye technique daily but be aware to let go of your attachment of the desire. Leave the details as to how the desire is to be fulfilled to the universe. Push too hard… and you push the object of your desire away!

Again, please be patient with yourself! As the ancient proverb says “the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”. As you continue to practice, you will see subtle changes. You will notice things in self and others that you would not have earlier. You will have moments of insight throughout your day, even when not involved in the meditation technique.

In fact, initially because you are becoming more aware, you may notice repressed feelings that you have avoided dealing with in the past. You will conquer this by strengthening your ability to remain in the present moment and therefore able to remain objective to the impatience and doubt. Give it time and you shall succeed!

As I have continued practicing the techniques put forth in Optimum Self, I have been inclined to do meditation sessions very frequently. Every couple of hours I feel a need to sit back and spend 10 or 20 or 30 minutes meditating – it brings much needed peace of mind and also lets me practice using the ideas.

However I am aware that it is possible to “push it”, to try to overwork yourself, and that can be detrimental. In several places you allude to this. My question is, is it okay for me to meditate so much and so often? Or would it be better to let up, do 5 minute sessions instead of 30 minute ones, or meditate only a couple of times a day, so as not to “overexert” myself?

Note though, that it’s not that I’m forcing myself to meditate so often, I truly feel like doing it. What do you think?

It is possible to become addicted to meditation like anything else, although most who meditate would classify it as a healthy addiction! With that in mind, ask yourself the same questions one might ask when trying to assess addictive behavior. Has your quality of life suffered as a result of your meditation or has it been enhanced? Are you neglecting responsibilities relating to home/work/school/relationships or are you actually more response-able?

Think also in terms of the meditation techniques gradually equipping you to deal more effectively with daily stressful situations. This in turn will lead to inner peace and self-reliance. Try to bring the present moment awareness cultivated in your daily meditations into your daily activities.
Due to the structure of the western society work/school schedules, generally a morning and evening meditation schedule of twenty to thirty minutes is recommended. Of course if you can also find quiet time for a shorter mid-day session that is an appropriate way to bridge the gap. That being said, it wouldn’t be uncommon for a holy person/guru/seeker in eastern society to meditate without ceasing. It all depends on where you find yourself.

What is significant in what you are relating is that you’re not “forcing myself to meditate so often, I truly feel like doing it.” With awareness as your guide you will find your own meditation comfort zone in due course.

I have fear to present or talk in front of a big crowd. How to overcome the fear ?

If your professional or social circumstances often place you in these types of situations and the fear became quite debilitating, the mainstream approach would be to refer the individual to a mental health professional. Once referred; talk therapy, behavior modification, medication or a combination would likely be prescribed.

After much time, energy and money invested, the patient would still have no assurance that the symptom would cease to exist. Success rates would depend on a myriad of factors such as the relationship between patient and therapist, the effectiveness of the therapist and the correct dosage and type of medication used. A chemical dependency could possibly develop. These are the events one is likely to encounter.

What we would propose in order to combat this fear (which continues to rank uppermost when individuals are polled regarding their greatest fears) is very different. In a previous newsletter dealing with anxiety, an effective solution for the problem of social anxiety and fear of speaking in public was first presented. Additional comments as they apply to this particular question have been interlaced with the original. It is as follows:

Do you ever experience anxiety? When anxiety appears, is it free-floating or is there a specific person, place or thing that triggers its emergence?

Anxiety can only occur when you choose to leave the safe haven of the here and now. Before long you may get caught up in your fertile imagination and the catastrophic ideas it holds.

“They won’t like me or what I have to say”…”they’ll know I’m nervous”…”I’ll fail to deliver”…”I’m not any good at speaking to groups”…and so on.

Staying in the now is paramount. Once you have begun to train yourself to actually witness the anxiety and remain objective to it, immediately its power over you will diminish.

This training must begin now and on a daily basis, not just prior to addressing a large group.

Once you are able to free yourself of memories and anticipation, what is left for you to fear? Try to remain in the gap which occurs between having your attention on one thought and yet not quite being attached to the next one. Carefully step into this gap and attempt to stay there for as long as possible!

Remaining in the gap during your address to the crowd will inject a vitality, spontaneity and uniqueness that will gain their attention.

Be ever aware that the past and future exist in the mind only and you are able to observe your mind, therefore you are not your mind. Reality exists only in the now.

When you awake from a nightmare you immediately realize it was only a nightmare but while you are trapped inside it seems very real indeed. Start seeing the nightmare (or the dream for that matter) for what it is. Wake up!

The life energy that was previously used to suppress and wage war against those persistent negative thoughts and fears, can now be freed up to energize the true self!

And in turn energize your presentation or talk.

You must be disciplined enough (and it will come with time and practice) to disassociate yourself from destructive thoughts by using the observation technique located here.

While using the technique don’t fight or wrestle with your thoughts. Don’t try to avoid seeing them, rather attempt to view them in a dispassionate manner. This detachment will eventually lead to freedom from that which you are presently a slave. No special knowledge or advanced training is needed to accomplish this goal. You already have all that you require within.

Give up the futile striving of the ego that continually fails you and return to the inner self. There is really nothing else that needs to be done. You have already arrived; there is nowhere to go.

Although you exist as a person within the material world, that which is within you (the observer) and witnesses all that occurs, is infinite. Realize this and bring it to your morning meditation and other moments of solitude. That is your true self. Pursue this diligently and with patience and sincerity. Refuse to judge your progress, as that is evidence that your ego is still involved.

By remaining in the present moment during your presentation or speech, you will avoid the “how am I doing?” self judgement. Your focus will be strong.

It has been estimated that we have anywhere from sixty to seventy thousand thoughts daily. The problem arises when it is discovered that these thoughts are often of a self-defeating nature and we have already thought them yesterday, last week, last year, even in the last decade! Begin to rid yourself of these often destructive, habitual thoughts by practicing this technique.

It doesn’t matter how the previous presentation was conducted. Realize clearly that it exists as memory only. It has no enduring reality. Stay in the now!

When all the false ideas you still hold about yourself are gradually given up, the true self will be revealed. You can still continue with all your daily duties and responsibilities while allowing yourself time to meditate and get centered daily.

If those duties include presentations and public speaking, you will actually begin to enjoy the rapport with the audience free of fear. You will be able to assist others who face the same fear you have conquered!

How to realize I am separate from thoughts?

Thank you for your question. Try the following technique with sincerity and discipline and you will not fail.

From wherever it is that you find yourself now, (unless there are immediate responsibilities to be dealt with) seek out a quiet place. From this place you will proceed into a basic meditative state.

Stay just as you are, either sitting upright in a flat back chair with your feet firmly on the floor with your arms by your side, or resting comfortably on a couch. If you are limited physically, you may lie down on a flat surface. Early on in your efforts to complete this meditation exercise, you will be likely to fall asleep if you choose the lying down position.

Do not fight off sleep initially because at least you will benefit somewhat from the much needed rest! Perhaps you have been unable to cope with overwhelming stress in your life and you genuinely require this rest. If that is the case, do what is necessary and return to this exercise later. However, be aware that sleep can also be your ego’s way of avoiding having its true nature exposed.

It is no coincidence that the term awakening is often used interchangeably with self discovery and enlightenment. In the early stages, try to find a balance between the sleep you genuinely require and the sleep that is merely avoidance of being here now. Sleep is not our goal here. Awakening is our objective.

Gently and effortlessly become aware of your entire body and breathing. Slowly direct your attention as if scanning your entire body; beginning with your individual toes, moving up from your feet and calves and so on. Take your time.

As you encounter and become involved with each area, become aware of the blood flowing within that area. Be aware of the warmth that this flowing blood produces in that area. Be aware of a mild tingling sensation that occurs as you place your attention on that part of your body.

If a distracting thought arises (and they certainly will!), calmly but intently bring your attention back to the awareness of that body part. Regain your focus and attention time and time again. Continue this body scan for ten minutes or so.

When you’ve completed this scan of your entire body, begin to focus in on your hands. Become aware of your hands. Feel the tingle, the flow of blood in your hands. Now choose to concentrate on one hand only, preferably your dominant hand, but either will do.

Now just stay there! Stay in the present moment, continually aware of that hand. Remember that if and when your mind drifts off, you will remain diligent in your efforts to return again and again to the sensation in your hand, the flow of blood, the awareness of that hand, the awareness of this occurring in the present moment.

You are now grounded in the present moment. Clearly realize that nothing else exists but this moment. Here and now. The past is no longer here and the future has not yet arrived. Therefore the past and future exist in your mind only. You are absolutely here now only.

Be aware that even when your mind is unaware that it is involved with the past or the future, it is still operating from within the now. The eternal now. Without reference to memories of the past or anticipations of the future, the now is absolutely timeless.

It can take a lifetime or an instant to fully grasp and live according to this idea of the now. Your sincerity will be the determining factor. The only reality is here and now. Realize this. Discover this.

During your meditation, when a thought attempts to pull you away from the awareness of your hand and consequently the now, bring your awareness back softly. Do not become frustrated with this barrage of emerging thoughts that pull your attention away. Do not wrestle with any thought; for that only energizes it and enables it to maintain sway over you. Rather, attempt to witness the thought dispassionately with patience, acknowledge the thought and then bring your attention back to your hand.

With continued practice, this will become easier and your ability to calmly observe and gain control over your thoughts will astound you! You are merely seeing a glimpse of the control you can exercise over your thoughts. You will soon discover the immense life altering benefits this control will surely bring. Just simply approach this exercise with patience and sincerity and your efforts shall be rewarded.

Continue this for an additional ten minutes and eventually increase to twenty minutes. The initial body scan portion can be decreased accordingly so that the entire twenty minutes is composed of the hand awareness technique only.

Remember that when a random thought draws you away, you must bring yourself back to the awareness of your hand without exerting effort; again and again. You are certain to be able to do this with increased frequency and ease as your practice continues.

I’m 48 years old and I have used marijuana for about 30 years. I have 2 children and a very good wife. We love each other very much. Now, since 2 months ago, I’ve been very happy because by the grace of God and the 12 Steps of Narcotics Anonymous I am clean.

Now life is fulfilling and there is joy in my heart. My family is very glad with my change. I feel that every day, in every way, I am getting better and better, but I’m still afraid of having a relapse any day, not now, but I think that feeling so good can be danger for me and I don’t want to ever go back in my life. Can you assist me in this matter?

Thank you for contacting us. Your gratefulness for the changes in your life seem heartfelt. You indicate that “there is joy in my heart”. Continue to embrace that joy; moment by moment. You mention that “every day, in every way, I am getting better and better”. Again continue to just be, doing this moment by moment. Keep it simple. Don’t judge your progress. Positive changes will take place on their own as you continue this journey we all share with you. You are not alone.

Whenever you become aware that you are “afraid of having a relapse any day…”, also become aware that is merely a thought and that you are having the thought but that you are not the thought.

There is the thinker and the thought. Clearly see this separation. Thus you remain ever able to remain separate and untouched by any thought. Perhaps you may even try the technique mentioned above.

For some time you have found resources within yourself that have always been there. Now that they are found, rest assured they cannot be lost, for they always remain a part of you!

Even your simple statement “We love each other very much” carries within it a universe of joy and fulfillment. All the assistance you think you may require, I trust you have already found within. Embrace it moment by moment, day by day and know that you continue to provide encouragement to all of us.

Hello: First I have to say thank you for your efforts, time and knowledge in this subject. It’s wonderful. I have been meditating for years, I tried some of your ideas and they work. I’ve been able to get deeper into my inner self.

I have asked when I feel that I have a new guide coming to me for a name. Most of the time I get one but I have one close to me. Native Indian I feel, one who has been with me for the better, if not all of my life. I’ve asked Him questions to find out who he was while on earth but I don’t get anywhere.

How can I “make Him talk”? Please excuse the way I said that. I know it sounds foolish, but I would really like to know how to get deeper into this. Thanks for listening. I hope the question was not too far off the wall.

Thank you for your question. We welcome off the wall here!

It really depends on what your stance is regarding the identity of “the guide” that comes to you during your meditations. If you adhere to the concept of a collective unconscious, perhaps as you sink into deeper levels of thought, you encounter thoughts which you attribute to someone other than the self.

If one is inspired to follow the lead of one of these guides, it is possible that you deliberately choose the voice which is the most in tune with your inner self. The voice which seems closest to your own heart.

Have you attached a personality to your intuitive stirrings? It it possible that at some level this “guide” is a projected part of your personality that is other- wise repressed during waking hours? This is yours to discover.

If you were to “make Him talk”; what would you to expect him to say? If this guide is but a projected part of your personality previously hidden, then the words/thoughts may oppose your dominant inner directives. If the guide’s words/thoughts happen to be congruent with your own, then this guide may be merely a charismatic personality you’ve attached to your inner prompts.

Ultimately it is the inner self which witnesses “the guide”, in the same manner in which you may witness all your fears, desires and thoughts when you find yourself in an objective, meditative state. Discover who guides the guide and there you will find yourself.

I had an opportunity to browse and find your site and ASK YOU so this doubt of mine for your records and answer if possible. One has taken birth by virtue of past karmas good or bad and the fruits of it, only he is enjoying now in this birth. If so how is it possible to do any new karma? Definitely there should be some philosophy or logic which a lay man like me cannot understand.

Thank you for your question. Many assumptions are made in your comments that may not be palatable to all. A Christian would likely object to the notion that “One has taken birth by virtue of past karmas good or bad and the fruits of it”. In the same manner that you may find the concept of “a virgin birth” not to your liking. You may choose to “battle it out” in the arena of lively religious discussion should you choose. Enjoy, be open and considerate but remember to clean up afterwards!

However, our goal here at Optimum Self is to simply discover “what is” free of religious doctrine or assumptions. We believe there is great truth shared amongst popular religions though not exclusive to any particular one. With reference to karma, it is sufficient to simply draw upon the Sanskrit definition which involves a deed or action that has consequences. How does this impact the “what is”? Here and now. We espouse that “for every action, a reaction”. But we do it in the now. We witness the consequences of deed or actions in the now. This is where certainty and truth reside, in that this is where we are NOW. I am that by which I know that I am. Right here. Right now.

Leave “philosophy” to the philosopher and “logic” to the mathematician and the pure thinker. If you seek to “understand”, first determine what it is you stand under but determine it in the now.

At the outset let me congratulate you for a great site. It provides the exact information a seeker needs. I would like to thank you very much because I have found some very interesting stuff which was very useful. In a way ending my quest for anymore information. As one of the greatest seers said, ” whatever you want to know, know fast and practice. The rest will happen automatically” My question is * can an observer observe the observer, a watcher watch the watcher, a witness witness the witness?

Thank you for your question. Yes they can, but in these examples a duality still exists doesn’t it? Who is the observer that observes the observer? Go beyond duality if you dare. In non-duality the self disappears and there is no separation; only oneness.

I thank you for your help on the web. I put before you my doubts for your clarifications.

1) It is said there is a THINKER who does the thinking. Who is this thinker ? Is the thinker the ‘ root thought (I) ‘ or the REAL SELF ?

2) How can we undo the negative/unwanted thoughts that are already processed? Since they are about to materialize, how can we reverse them besides resorting to positive thinking?

Thank you for your questions. 1)When you identify with the mind, you are the thinker. When you witness the mind, that which witnesses is beyond the mind. When you remain detached from the mind, that which is detached experiences nothingness, or rather no-thing ness. What are the qualities of nothingness?

In the gap between one thought and another, what is the witness witnessing? Hold no thought save the sense of “i am” without attaching an obligatory “i am this” or “i am that” and watch what unfolds.

2) Relating to your first question; thoughts only become “negative/unwanted” when detachment is not present. When detached, the thought lacks any emotional pull and is merely observed for what it is.

Choose to be aware and observe the thought as it occurs. Don’t avoid witnessing the thought, no matter how upsetting it may be. The thought to “undo” another thought is simply… another thought. One can see how this attempt to battle a thought with another thought, merely plays into the ego’s never ending cycle, lest you observe the thought. Observe the thought for what it is and move on.

Although I’m a physician, I have seen and experienced in my own flesh leaving the Navy (keeping the rank but with no retirement payment) and finding it difficult later to insert myself into civilian life.

I think this is a universal experience and I’ve found some articles depicting the experience, including a superb one called “Retired at the Navy request” by Lieutenant Commander Daniel B. Sheehan published in Proceedings, February 1994, pg. 57 (US Naval Institute).
I’ve watched with horror how inept people have obtained ranks and incomes that they didn’t deserve at all. This last in the midst of the stabbing thoughts “should I have stayed?” and “would my family be better if I had remained ?” But by the other way, in the civilian life, I have met corrupt people who never ended high school but are in managing positions (obtained through political influences) having terrific incomes which were really shocking.

Now, this is neither envy nor a naive claim for justice, but sound reality. I work 64 hours per week and can’t get a raise. My interior disappointment is at times so great that I feel depressed. How do you suggest I should manage this?

Thank you for your input. At times when you are still and simply being in the here and now (without a personal history of memories and identifications) then who are you? When you indicate that your “interior disappointment is at times so great that I feel depressed”, please realize that if you remain in the security of the now, rather than pursue anticipatory thinking, disappointment cannot follow.

Let your focus be on where you find yourself now and the direction that your inner stirrings point you towards. Become aware continually of the simple pleasures that surround you. It is also “sound reality” that you are, that you exist, and that your body is a vehicle for this consciousness.

While the heart does yet beat, be aware of this wondrous journey you are on. Everything is unfolding as it should. Accept and be open to what lies ahead.

I am wondering how my mood swings can be explained. I often blame it on my diet, but that doesn’t seem to get me anywhere.

Do you think it is just plain thought/emotion caused? Maybe any kind of hate/distrust/jealousy/worry/fear that makes me feel bad physically and emotionally? How can I find emotional/physical stability? How can I avoid my feelings of peace and happiness from being thrown off?

Thank you for your questions. Certainly the physiological and emotional impact of an unbalanced diet will be felt. Before food enters your mouth, is there awareness of the physical need for nourishment or is the need merely emotional? If nourishment is genuinely required, is there any consideration whether the food (which is literally constructing your body) is nutritional and wholesome? With present moment awareness, one is able to determine whether “i need this” or “i don’t need this”. One is able to determine whether one is actually experiencing hunger or rather the need to “fill oneself” or fill one’s emptiness.

With present moment awareness, one is able to know if the impulse is a habitual one or if the need is real. Simply be aware. Am I hungry? If yes, eat and eat foods that enrich. Be kind to your stomach. Am I not hungry even though the clock tells me I should be hungry? Wait until the hunger arises, then eat. When the hunger subsides; stop eating.

But enough about food, except for the “meat and potatoes” of your questions. If you haven’t already, consider trying the simple technique outlined at . With practice, you will develop the ability to still your mind and therefore be able to observe your thoughts. This in turn will allow you to become objective to and detached from these thoughts. At this point you will be aware if the thoughts, images and ideas floating past the screen of your mind are attempting to pull you in and cause you to react emotionally.
Before your feelings of “hate/distrust/jealousy/worry/fear” can arise, you will now clearly and calmly see their beginnings stirring. Without this calm objectivity, you are certain to replay particularly stubborn thoughts and react emotionally to their arrival, time and time again.

If you can begin your day centering yourself through the use of this technique or any other, then your mentioned experiences of “feelings of peace and happiness” that are being “thrown off” will be dramatically reduced.

Throughout your day, as you become aware of being pulled away from your center, you will now have developed the discipline necessary to swiftly detach from the thought and return to your source of inner calmness. All that is required is a sincerity in your heart and a commitment to become aware from moment to moment.

I would like to ask a few questions, if you permit. What is the difference /relationship between self-awareness and being self-conscious ? Can self-consciousness culminate into self-awareness? What is the memory of a person living continuously in a meditative state like? What is the quality of recording of his experiences? No recording or recording without choice?

Since as I understand, there are no thoughts in a meditative state, when a person starts thinking again after a meditative session/experience, does he conclude that he was in meditation just like after sleep that a person slept well? When there are no thoughts, can there be memory of meditative experience?

I believe memory is but a bunch of thoughts stored. If there be no memory, how would meditation differ from self-forgetting (opposite of self-remembrance advocated by spiritual teachers as a technique for spiritual advancement)?

Thank you for your questions. A body is necessary to provide a vehicle for consciousness but there are times when you have no awareness of consciousness. If one were able to be continually in the meditative state, there would be no mindful recording of experiences. There would only be the process.

Holding a thought in order to store a memory, would necessarily involve being lifted from the immediacy of the now and staying in the past. Look at this as the difference between letting a rushing stream flood past one’s open hands as opposed to cupping and holding the water.

You ask about “When a person starts thinking again after a meditative session/experience”. The difference here is that the person is no longer detached and objective to thoughts but rather now identifying with and caught up in the thought. Without these thoughts, where does one find the “raw materials” to create memory?

When you ask “how would meditation differ from self-forgetting”, try thinking in terms of one’s failure to “remember” the events of say…August 12, 1994. Could one really be certain, save for a precise written journal, whether one was in a meditative state the entire day and simply has no stored memory, or whether one was merely unaware of the events of the day even while they occurred?

Better still…be here now. Put away the need for constant definition. Be aware that sometimes one’s incessant questioning is merely the ego seductively drawing you away from what “is” by appealing to intellectual pursuit. Try losing your mind…and finding your self.

Although in my head I’ve known for a long time it is my ego notion, I still don’t seem to make the connection to feel part of the Whole, part of God, and believe I have a right to exist.

In my attempt to meditate there’s a part of me that believes in God undoubtedly, but in my daily life and in meditation or others, I have the inner belief that I’m such a big nobody that nobody is out there wanting to love me, share my growth, etc. Hard to explain. But can you give me an insight to feel I am One with God, that perhaps I have the right to feel I am? Thank you.

The very act of writing this; connects you. You are understood here. Many others are reading and connecting as well. Rest assured you are part of the “Whole”. What is outside of the “Whole” if not merely a larger “Whole”?

By your own admission “in my head I’ve known”. Perhaps this is not knowing but merely believing. There is a difference. You are “that by which you know that you are”. This is not dependent on belief. It just is.

You also go on to state that “there’s a part of me that believes in God undoubtedly”. May I suggest that is your true self, beyond the questioning mind. Examine what “part” that may be. Go deeper. Then deeper still. Then be still and let the answers come to you.

You also mention “I still don’t seem to make the connection…and believe I have a right to exist” and “perhaps I have the right to feel I am”. That you exist is “right”. Just by virtue of existing so that you may ask if you have the “right” to exist contains your answer.

As always, the questions raised invariably tap into my own current angst, thanks to the timely soul who asks you. You answer with wisdom and then we on the outside, benefit too.

Question please: Having recently left an extremely dysfunctional ‘sociopathic’ partner who was cheating and following his own life patterns once again, I am feeling very much, out in the cold.

I am an attractive, intelligent woman with many gifts and although I feel great that I stood up to the bully and faced his controlling and then took control of things myself, I am flailing around in the wind.

It’s been 4 months and I did ‘cave’ (keep to myself) for the last 3. Now the sun is out and I want to get back out there, but feel I am on the shakiest foundations ever. Bruised, basically. I ask for angel help and feel I often get it but I may now be just trying to fill the hole mentioned in this months newsletter. Hmmmm.

Thank you for sharing and please add courageous, independent and thoughtful to your self description. Freedom from enslavement can require “flailing” at times. A decision to distance yourself from cruelty and negativity rather than be absorbed by it (though potentially disorienting at first), will never be a poor decision. You know this much is true.

Even during this “caving”, there has been change and growth. Trust it. The sun is outside and inside as well. Feel it warm from within. Feel the new day at hand. Bruises do heal. Both the passage of time and being mindful to protect the bruised area is required. Now care must be taken to avoid the bumps and those who cause them.

Trust that inner growth has indeed taken place during the seemingly passive “cave” phase. You have done what needed to be done. Four months ago you were admittedly in a situation that no one should tolerate. You are no longer there. You are here. Realize this.

Recall that the “shakiest foundations” are those which are built on the unhealthy attachments to a “sociopathic” partner. Rebuilding is well underway and your courage will be rewarded.

Be aware to identify similar “bruisers” that enter your life, as you may be inexplicably drawn to these types. Meditate on this daily. Give your heart to those who are willing and able to receive all that you offer with kindness and reciprocity. Exercise neutrality with others, being wary to resent not.

See that your awareness that “I may now be just trying to fill the hole” is curative in and of itself. See your motivations and intentions because indeed as you mention; “Now the sun is out”. It is yours to bask in.

I have read many books which say I am not the body, not the thoughts, not my name, occupation etc.

I now want to discover my higher self within but find no definite path to get there. How do you reach something you know nothing of and haven’t ever seen? Thanks.

Thank you for your question. Do you believe that you are not your body, your thoughts, your occupation, etc. because of books you may have read?

Be aware not to mistake the pointed finger to the sky for the object to which someone wishes to bring your attention. Words (these or elsewhere) can only direct one to seek these things through meditation, observation and detachment.

You seek a path to yourself. This path does not move away from rather towards you. What you seek is within not without. Allow yourself to let go of sticky attachments to all that is ‘not you’ and see what remains. Discover by negation.

You ask; “How do you reach something you know nothing of and haven’t ever seen?” By not reaching. By not grasping. By just softly and without effort or struggle becoming aware of your inner motives. Become aware of the various definitions you have created or accepted from others for yourself. Return to your authentic self and dispose of all that you are not. Grasp the simplicity that there is nothing to do but be.

You most certainly know that ‘you are’. Be vigilant and stay with this sense of ‘I am’. Resist the urge to define yourself as ‘I am this’ or ‘I am that’. Just be. See clearly that the past and the future exist in your mind only. Be here now. Where else can you be?

Learn to become aware of and able to remain objective to the endless stream of thoughts that you have about yourself. See clearly that you are not your thoughts. To assist you in this discipline, try the technique here now.

You said “you are not the thoughts…” and “be detached and non-emotional while witnessing the thoughts…” but the problem comes when the thoughts coming up are related to experiences. In such cases I can’t be detached since I know that the experiences are real.

I may accept the idea that “I am not the thoughts” but I very well know that the experiences they relate to are “real”. How do you explain this? Please enlighten.

Thank you for your ‘thoughtful’ question. The fact that you are able to witness your thoughts necessitates both an observer and that which is observed. In this duality, you are the observer of the thought but indeed separate.

You indicate “the problem comes when the thoughts coming up are related to experiences. In such cases I can’t be detached since I know that the experiences are real…” but how is this problematic? The experiences were real when actually experienced. Now they are but memories. The only reality is now; that moment in which you have full awareness that you are witnessing but a memory.

“The problem” occurs when one takes memories for reality. That meal you consumed several days ago was indeed real at that time. Your body perceived and consumed this organic material at that time. Where is it now? The experience of that consumption may still linger right now as a pleasant thought of a delicious meal. Does that make it real?

The current cellular structure of your body “really” attests to the nutrition supplied in the past but the meal is no longer “real”. In this way those “thoughts related to experiences” in the past, merely represent the experiences that have nurtured and formed who you are right now. The thoughts are not the experiences themselves. The experiences have been digested and form the structure of the individual as they move and have their being.

The understanding of this and increased awareness will naturally compel you to make the most appropriate choice in the moment. You may make choices based on memory or anticipation (past/future) but nonetheless clearly see that these choices are ever made in the now.

Continuing to (mis)take memories for reality will keep you securely anchored to the past. That is your choice. Every time there is even the slightest awareness that this is so; at that exact moment you grow.

Whether you choose to “accept the idea” that you are not your thoughts or not, it will remain so. Refusing to accept that water is wet will not keep you dry during a thunderstorm. That is your choice. You must come to the realization that you are not your thoughts during mediation or otherwise. See for yourself.

Are you not able to detach from your thoughts? Who is the ‘I’ you speak of when you said “I can’t be detached…”? There is even a duality in your statement, for admittance that one can’t be detached from a thought necessarily involves attachment, which again is duality. There is you; and there is the thought to which you are attached. The answer you seek is found in your question.

Instead of “accepting” ideas or concepts accept “the present” you have now. Your question demonstrates your great sincerity and that you are closer to the answer then you may realize. Continue to seek, knowing that all the resources and direction you require is found within not without.

Hi. My name is Balan and I am writing from Malaysia. My question is what actually happens when we meditate?

Does the inner voice go silent and everything becomes completely blank? Or are the visions, colorful lights and sounds a complete understanding of everything? Or is it dull like what I am going through everyday except for occasionally?

It feels good except for one thing; my continuous throbbing headache around the nasal and third eye area for about 6 years now. I used to attribute it to my sinus problem but I’m not quite sure. Thanking you for your guidance.

Thank you for writing us Balan. Actually, “what actually happens when we meditate” is that actuality actually happens! It is ever there; only now you are still enough to observe, marvel and wonder moment by moment.

Rather than ask “what happens?” simply observe what happens. It happens to you. Ask the one whom observes the happening. Or simply give up the need to ask. Right now the sky is blue. Could you begin to change it even if fully understanding what makes it so? Just be that which happens.

As long as the body remains a vehicle for consciousness, the “inner voice” is never completely silenced. It softly rises above “the visions, colorful lights and sounds” and lessens their hold over the increasingly detached observer. It speaks with wordless communication, bypassing the intellect and striking at the heart. Listen. When there is inner peace, it sits above the silence like a leaf on still water. Readily noticeable but always unobtrusive. Keep listening.

The symptoms you describe may be more related to your noted “sinus problem” than your meditation practice. Although there may be a slight tightness in the forehead above your eyes should there be any straining of the eyes during meditation. See if this is so. Remember that placing one’s attention on the third eye does not involve looking upward. There is a tendency towards that movement. Just become aware if you are doing so and this awareness will be curative.

My mother is having a really hard time with a neighbor who is making her life really difficult!! He plays his music really loud all night long and as a consequence my mother is suffering!! We have tried to talk to the council, noise pollution squad and nothing is being done.

As a result I am finding myself drifting into a void of stress and depression, seeing my mother suffering in this way is killing me!! I try and meditate but the image of my mother crying comes over me. I’m finding it hard to maintain a present moment awareness!! What can I do?

Thank you for your question but now just pause for a moment. Separate the two issues. You are expending a great deal of life energy absorbing the first issue, solving nothing while creating a second which is creating inner turmoil.

Your mother experiences the discomfort directly. Has she calmly and methodically taken all possible steps to create a comfortable environment again? If she were able to stop the music using less than ethical means, would it be at the expense of her own peace of mind?

Silence that is perceived by the aural apparatus is deafening to the chattering mind. Does she move forward calmly or ever resentful of this noisy neighbor?

Simply put, resolution is needed now. There is your mother. There is dis-ease. Does she stay or does she go? Does she wish to remain there even after her direct communication has fallen on deaf ears? Does her attachment to this physical location outweigh the dis-ease it brings? Her intent needs to be clearly defined and understood. Only then will the solution becomes stunningly clear.

Now back to you. There is nothing in the “void”. There is no-thing. No-thing-ness. Only process. You may have overlaid “stress and depression” onto the void which (if allowed) could provide you with a wellspring of pure creativity. Begin to recognize and effectively deal with that which robs you of clarity and makes you less capable of assisting and comforting others.

You say you are “finding it hard to maintain a present moment awareness!!” See the value here. This “music” appears to disturb you more than the ears that hear it. The images that arise in the present moment are valuable cues! Don’t turn away! Rather, just observe calmly then take action decisively.

You ask “what can i do?”. Simply… move your mother’s couch elsewhere. Or sit her down on said couch and discover what it will take for her to stay in peace. Just be decisive. Re-direct energy currently used to wrestle with thoughts towards an actual solution in the present moment.

I have just started meditation. I can focus on my breath for a small amount of time. Usually I will take a half an hour before I get into a deep relaxed state of mind. Often I see a light. I focus on it and feel a deep relaxation then I return to the breath. Should I stay in the light?

What I want to know is what is this light? Part of my thoughts that just appears? Please explain.

When the light appears, be open and feel the infusion of warmth. Your “deep relaxed state” allows this to be.

Go nowhere. Be nowhere. Be now here. A shift in letter placement; a shift in perception. When you stay now here, the light stays also. The light is actually ever there. If we can keep the lens of our mind’s eye clean, the light shall flood in steadily.

When our minds are filled with apprehension, resentment and worry, this lens is obscured, like clouds obscuring brilliant sunlight. Yet the sun shines tirelessly. Our daily relationship to the physical sun will change necessarily but we choose to turn from the sun within. Its stark beauty can be overwhelming.

Don’t be overwhelmed. It is yours to discover. Can you feel how the light enriches? Accept it. You are made to bask in it and then reflect it to all you encounter; for it is love.

My name is Kattie and I am a full time single mother and a full time college student. I am also 31 years old and need a way to release stress. I have been wanting to start meditating, but don’t know how to get started. Can you suggest any ways to start?

Also, I plan to start kickboxing and wanted to know if this will affect my ability to meditate fully? I want to know because they are two very different ways to release stress. Also, can you suggest which to do first, meditate or box? Thank you, Kattie.

Thank you for writing us Kattie. Start here and now. Go here.

Choose to meditate regularly like you choose to breathe. You don’t concern yourself with how well you breathe or what method of breathing you will utilize; you simply breathe. Simply meditate.

Meditating will not cause you to put any other activities in your life on hold. Your desire to choose and continue to meditate remains ever independent of your desire to kickbox. Meditation should be as effortless as possible so that there is really no harm in beginning both simultaneously.

In fact, it is likely that your meditating practice will improve your ability to concentrate, remain focused and achieve a heightened sense of body connectedness that will actually enhance your kickboxing experience. Do both if it pleases you.

I wish to address your referring to meditation as a way to release stress. Rather, try looking at meditation as a discipline used to still the mind, center the self and increase present moment awareness. This state of increased awareness will enable you to clearly identify your habitual reactions to stressful situations.

Your ever increasing ability to plainly observe these moments of acute stress, will allow you to choose to prohibit the acceptance and accumulation of layers of inauthentic material. Rather than using meditation as a type of panacea to treat that which is already inside, use this discipline to keep stress ever on the outside, just as a drop of water smoothly glides down and drops off a duck’s back without ever penetrating.

When you move and have your being from the inside out, support is always forthcoming, but when you willingly accept and then wrestle with that from the outside, the self finds itself off balance and even less prepared to deal with whatever the next moment may bring.

Moving further from one’s center may cause a frantic grasping for anything and everything that holds some promise of relief. The world is ever ready to flood one with all manner of tantalizing distractions and would-be solutions. Have you not tried them before? Did they work then? What have you learned?

Moment by moment realize that you are empowered to choose escape into illusion or the reality of the inner self. Begin with meditation. Realize who you are not, and then by elimination; who you are. Bar what is not you from entering, and then that which remains will be more than capable of dealing with whatever inevitable stress is placed upon you.

Stress is certainly necessary for continued growth and new opportunities to display “grace under pressure”, but an effective method of meeting this teacher directly is equally necessary.

I’m one of the latest subscribers to your valuable newsletter. I’ve questions pertaining to my self.

Presently I’m undergoing the most difficult period in my career in the sense the work pressure is to much and not at all rewarding. Moreover none is there to motivate me except myself. Because of this pressure the work I do sometimes turns out to be flop and I find it difficult to motivate myself.

This is predominant for the past six months. I can say that never in my life until this date (I’m 35 years old) have I had so much pessimism.

One more thing is I have a lot of dreams. One dream which keeps occurring is that I try to catch a train for an onward journey but due to difficulty I encounter, I find myself ( in the dream) crying as if I’ve missed the train. Please guide me the best exercise I should do to improve my situation.

Regards, Ram

Thank you for writing us Ram. The “questions pertaining to my self” are best answered by the self. Just look there.

The “pressure” that is “too much” presses on the self. Observe the pressure. See how it operates. Then clearly observe your self separate from this pressure. There is you and there is pressure placed on you. The moment you perceive yourself as separate from the pressure it ceases to influence the self, but should you allow this pressure to enter, it becomes you and you shall be tossed to and fro. Now your being is pressure. Where is peace to be found?

Now. Consider just remaining still. Try the technique here. Shatter the illusion of the self being pressure. Clearly see how the outer has bonded with the inner. In that moment you will see the seam. See the weakness of this bond. Break the bond here. Distinctly see the bond as it detaches. Clearly see the separation.

When pressure attempts to re-adhere (which it will time and time again), just calmly see that this is so and this gentle awareness will not allow the bond to take. Moment by moment. Be vigilant. Be aware without ceasing.

Now. Now you have separated from the pressure. “None is there to motivate except myself”. Perfect! Dispassionately observe the pressure outside the self and also notice that motivation from the outside is no longer forthcoming. Now the inner can emerge.

When all that is not you is kept outside, you will necessarily move in the direction that is truthful. How can it not be? What motivates the sparrow to fly from here to there or the wind to change direction without warning? It is just so for the sparrow, the wind and now for you.

Originating within is all the motivation you require, but first you must learn to unshackle yourself from all that you are not. Then self-actualization may take place. Go from here to there and if need be, change direction without warning.

Also, return to the “catch a train” dream. Re-experience this precious gift to yourself from yourself. It has been brought to your attention for a reason. It will persist in recurring until there is understanding. Use the dream re-experiencing technique outlined here.
This is your dream. Unique to you. With meaning to you only. You are the train. Become it. Find that part of you that you continually leave behind as the train departs. Find it in order to reintegrate the self and be whole again. This will allow the recurring dream of a journey to cease. Then you will find that the journey has begun for real.

To the optimum self, I thank you for your newsletters, they are so enlightening. My religion (Ismaili Muslim – followers of the Agakhan) is that of an esoteric one – where we (those who wish) are to practice meditation daily from 4-5 in the morning.

I do not do this, and I feel so guilty. During the day I try to meditate for a few minutes here and there, but it is not the same as making the concerted effort in the early hours of dawn.

I have read some amazing, spiritually inspiring books from the likes of Dr. Paul Brunton, and Dr. Wayne Dyer etc. that bring my soul to tears, and yet I still have not started a regular practice. What do I do with myself?

Thank you for your comments and question. “What do I do with myself?” Continue to be inspired. Continue to be moved. Continue daily to find a few minutes “here and there” and when comfortable, you may naturally choose to gather those minutes together and launch a regular daily practice.

Growth is surely occurring; let go of the need to measure yourself against others.Your few minutes are as valid as their 4am practice. In those minutes just be the self that asks “what do I do with myself?”. Do nothing. Just be.

The guilt you refer to may indicate veiled resentment. If it feels a burden or chore to commit to a regular meditation practice then so be it. This is where you are now. Don’t resent or feel guilt that this is so. There is no timetable for your spiritual growth.

You describe yourself as one who is at times amazed, inspired and moved and that everyday you also find a few minutes to enter the meditative state. How wonderful! In those few minutes you may catch a glimpse of the infinite. In those minutes you may amaze, inspire and move another.

Return daily to those minutes, delving deeper into the mystery of the now. This works for you now. If you are inspired to try to sit still daily for a set period, you will be motivated from within rather than from without. Realize that you lack nothing right now.

Thanks for your help on the web. May I ask for your kind guidance regarding the below.

Often you keep advocating the theory of remaining in the PRESENT. Well, I think I understood/understand what you said but it seems it is much less possible in practical life. For example: I wish to make coffee. The moment the idea of making coffee flashes, the MIND jumps back into the past trying to recollect information as to how coffee can be made. Can you please enlighten me on how to remain in the PRESENT in such circumstances.

Thank you for your comments. There is really no need to spend a moment “advocating the theory of remaining in the PRESENT” because the present is self-evident. Theorizing involves assuming something to be true without conclusive evidence. Can one deny one remains in the present, when even said denial takes place in the present? Theorizing or not; with the mind either pulled back into the past or anticipating the future, realize that this activity still takes place in the present. What can be a more “practical life” then one one lived in a reality based manner?

You “wish to make coffee”. Wait. What proceeded this wish? Were you aware of feeling sleepy or sluggish? Were you aware that this is a time when you habitually prepare coffee? Did you consciously view a Starbucks billboard or did it cross your field of vision apparently unnoticed? Did the aroma of a neighbor’s brew trigger the desire? Did the memory of your last coffee experience create a craving for more?

Are you even aware of the “prior to” the wish? The paradox is that simply being here now, moment by moment without effort or strain requires the utmost discipline, sincerity and steadfast determination.

If your mind “jumps back into the past trying to recollect information as to how coffee can be made” then just realize this is so. Whenever you walk, are you consciously aware of lifting your right leg, placing it forward while transferring your body weight as if to fall, only to move the left leg forward in the same manner ? Possibly you are just aware that you are walking. It is more likely that you are anticipating your destination, remembering where/what you are leaving, imagining some trivial item, thinking you are running late, etc. Just be aware that your mind is elsewhere and enjoy the journey. You have arrived already.

Back to the coffee while it is still hot. If you have prepared it many times, you will simply do what is necessary without consciously “trying to recollect information as to how coffee can be made”, much like you decided to walk to the coffee maker without trying to recollect information as to how to walk.

If you have little or no experience preparing coffee, then you will be particularly mindful of the necessary steps. You will concentrate (be centered) on this activity. In both examples, you may choose to be aware of the present, albeit with a qualitative difference. One may be aware that they are responding emotionally to a scene in a movie that has captured their attention, or merely aware that they are sitting in a theater watching projected light creating an image on a screen.

Why bother with all of this? In every moment there is intent, whether you are aware or not. The intent may be as simple as continuing to breathe, walk or make coffee or it may be as life altering as expressing love or hate, defying someone or something, allowing oneself to be moved or inspired, or passionately acting upon some other impulse.

These moments pile upon one another creating a life lived. Yet you only ever have the now. The only moment that truly exists is now. Your ability to respond (responsibility) appropriately in this moment is dependent on the breadth of your awareness of this moment. The choices you make (consciously or unconsciously) and even the choice to do nothing (which is still a choice) profoundly affect the next moment. An infinite number of choices ever exist resulting in a totally unique next moment. With the past no longer holding grip, you find yourself ever here now unless you choose (and clearly see it is a choice) to place your attention on the past while another moment slips by.

Discipline. Remembering to remember. As soon as you become aware that you have been elsewhere, in that moment you are in the now. Don’t linger too long, for the next moment is ever fresh with the potential of new discovery and understanding. Wake up…and smell the coffee.

Dear Friend,

Thank you for all the work you are doing out there to ensure that we receive regular mailings of the Optimum Self newsletter.
In the readings I have made so far on awareness, I see a definite link between awareness and the mental condition of a person.

My question is; Can a mentally incapacitated person reach awareness? Can (s)he be aware of God when the mind is impaired/ retarded/dysfunctional? What would be the spiritual consequences of not knowing God when the mind’s impaired condition was not in any way someone’s choice (say in the case of a person born mentally retarded)?


Thank for your kind words and question. The approach I will choose in examining this perplexing issue is to put the focus as always on the perceiver; you and I. Mysteries such as why an omniscient God would create a person seemingly with two strikes against them will not be solved in this newsletter. Is it ours to understand? Are we prepared to understand?

The mere fact of their consciousness allows for the possibility of awareness, albeit perhaps having a different quality. Do their eyes ever brighten with the appearance of a certain object or person? Are they able to feel the rain softly falling on their faces? The sun warming their bodies? Are there not intermittent periods of joy and wonder?

Do those of us not considered “mentally incapacitated” regularly appreciate and are grateful for the same awareness of such simple pleasures?

Truly knowing God is beyond mind; perhaps they have fewer hindrances than one might think. At heart they will find all they require. Trust that.

Rather, what motivates us to ponder such a thing? What can we learn from those we view as “mentally incapacitated”? Our feelings of empathy indicate that we can identify with their life struggle. When so compelled, reach out and assist. By entering into the depths of our own hearts we may catch a glimpse of mysteries that elude our minds.

Our own growth is often “impaired/retarded” as we both consciously and unconsciously place obstacles in the way of direct contact with God and others. Is being born into a dysfunctional/abusive family “in any way one’s choice”? Realize that in each and every moment we have the opportunity to make fresh choices and move and have our being in the the way we choose.

The “spiritual consequences of not knowing God” can be found everywhere in every moment in the general population. Seek to discover what “impairs and retards” our own spiritual growth. If we sincerely seek the origins of our own pure heart, then understanding will follow. Begin there. Begin now.

comments: OPTIMUM SELF VS SELF ESTEEM: All our actions, education, knowledge is to boost the self esteem. The self esteem has its root in the past experiences and has dreams, goals and a picture of a strong future in all forms. Low self esteem means low energy and depression. Our optimum self, which means “what is now” melts the self esteem. This confuses me.

Thank you for your comments. While being unsure about some of your definitions and phrasing, I believe I get the gist of what you are saying.

I don’t agree that “All our actions, education, knowledge is(are) to boost the self esteem”; in fact many of our actions only provide a temporary boost (like an addict’s fix) and may be ultimately self destructive. Often we learn to live today with the consequences of “the morning after the night before”. We choose to either learn and grow from these actions, or resent the results of our actions and carry them ever onward to taint the now.

Remember that whenever your self esteem (as you put it) is getting “a boost” or “melting” , one can choose to have awareness that it is happening in the now. Then while operating from one’s center, one is able to clearly see the events that “boost or melt” and choose to remain separate from these events or be continually drawn in by them.

You refer to education and knowledge to “boost the self esteem”. This site and newsletter deals with the self, not what the “self” esteems itself to be. The following relates to the boosting and melting you refer to in your comments.

When your inner self is left vulnerable to the whims of your fertile imagination, trouble can and will often ensue. Your mind will remain still only to the degree that you are able to see and remain separate from the barrage of images and be inner directed instead.

Whenever depression begins to get a grip on you, it is imperative that you sit still and calm your mind. From this point of stillness, watch the myriad of images and thoughts pass by the field of vision of your mind’s eye.

Thoughts of worthlessness, insecurities, past failures, regrets and resentments will often emerge. Watch these troubles objectively, as if sitting on the river’s edge watching a leaf being carried downstream. You remain outside of and separate from the river; watching but unaffected by its swift current. In the same fashion, stay separate from the often powerful stream of negative thoughts and images that flow by your inner vision.

Stay out of this current, while remaining ever watchful and respectful of its force but never resenting what you may see. Resentment binds one to the thought or image.

By detaching from these negative thoughts and then trying to dispassionately view them, you will be increasingly released from their further control. Do not struggle with these thoughts. Diligently remain separate and objective and the depression shall lift. Place no timetable on your ability to do this; just try with a sincere heart and steadfast intent.

Particularly note those negative thoughts and images which are repetitive. Choose to refuse to allow these habitual thoughts to continue to have a negative impact on your day to day activities any longer.

Realize this potentially life altering truth. This choice is yours to make. Realize that you possess the power to choose which thoughts you will allow to permeate your being and shape your reality. Realize that the thoughts you hold from moment to moment, shape your experience and ultimately your destiny.

If you would like to learn how this can be done, try practicing the technique found here.

Knowledge is indeed power but be careful what type of power you seek. Power from within or without? Knowledge acquired in order to have dominion over others may puff up (or boost) the ego but who does that make you?

The thirst for this kind of power can leave one out of balance as one moves away from a genuine, unmistakable inner power towards an ego driven facade of strength. All is seemingly well until a crisis knocks one off balance and the support the inner self could provide if it had been recognized and nurtured is not forthcoming. Seek first to gain knowledge of your inner self and “the kingdom of God within you”.

“Know Thyself” is the inscription on the Oracle of Apollo at Delphi, Greece from the 6th century B.C. Beautiful in its simplicity, it has echoed through the ages in many ways by many seekers of truth.

Even the irreverent “Keep It Simple, Stupid” bumper sticker on the rear of an AMC Pacer contains wisdom, as does the 5 year old child inside the car who can stun us with simplicity and self knowledge, if we only listen before we manage to “teach” it out of them. Be open enough to see wisdom wherever it shines.

comments: I receive your newsletter and thank you for the insight you provide. Especially the last one; “Who am I?” I used to wonder in my younger days, why has God created a man, then woman… Why? What is the purpose? If he has not created any one.. how it would have been? Why being born in this world, He/She has to go through sufferings? I did not get an answer. As years pass by… I totally stopped thinking about this. Can you enlighten me?

Thank you for your comments and questions. You mention that you “used to wonder in my younger days…” which leads me to wonder why on earth you stopped? Actually, it is obvious that you haven’t “totally stopped thinking about this” and this is very good indeed! To wonder and be curious and in awe is a wonder-ful thing.

If God is omniscient and everywhere, then it necessitates that God is also inside you. Keep looking. Keep wondering. You are beyond body and mind. The answers are therefore wordless.

Rather than ask “What is the purpose?” ask “What is my purpose?” and ask it knowing that God is inside you. Who is it then that asks that question or asks it of you? When your physical body which is merely a vehicle for consciousness is no more, then what remains but God? So then the answers remain. Wait.

Why is water wet? Why does water have to be wet? What would water be like if it was something other than wet? You may keep asking endlessly but while you do, risk missing fully how velvety it feels against your skin. Miss how it sustains and enriches you. Miss the quench it provides. Miss that it keeps you able to wonder and marvel. Place your focus where you choose but just consider getting wet.

1 Corinthians 13 says “When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me.” Consider that you didn’t “totally stop thinking about this” but rather began thinking of it in a much more profound way.

Why, why, why? Why may possibly lead one to explanation but never understanding. Try shifting your why to how. Be absolutely here now. Now how is that? How have you been created? The mere fact that you are able to ask why, means that you have been created. Now what? You can choose to miss the reality of the now by focusing on the endless why or choose to actualize yourself in this moment and the next. And the next.
As the artist creates to express, so are you God’s expression. You are like ever wet clay continually able to be molded and changed. Let the artist work you. Just see what happens when you do.

comments: I have found my way to your site looking for a way to change my habits of self deprecating and negative thoughts. I see myself as a failure and because of a depression I have a difficult time concentrating on anything long enough to meditate.

Do you have any suggestions that might help me relax or be able to focus? Each time I try this, I end up crying and seeing all my regrets before me in a confusion.

Thank you for taking the time to contact us. Please know that there are many who feel as you do. There is hope. You have found this site outside of yourself. Now find “a way” inside yourself. Know that it is there and begin.

You mention that “I see myself as a failure…” which introduces a split where you not only observe, but feel the need to categorize yourself. In the next breath you mention that you “have a difficult time concentrating on anything”.

You have proven that you are very capable of concentrating. Just begin concentrating on something other than the self-judgement of yourself as a failure.

Please see this. It is where you are placing your attention. Just become aware that you are the only one who can choose where you place your attention. Become acutely aware of this and then a slow but steady growth can take place.

I suggest that you try (without straining or expectation) the simple technique located here. Resist the need to create a timetable for growth to take place. Just simple and continual awareness will be curative in itself.

Should you “end up crying and seeing all my regrets before me” then so be it. Just keep trying with sincerity and eventually you will calmly observe the thoughts that proceed the crying. There may be a genuine need for grieving to take place. If so, then feel, heal and be clear.

There may also be repetitive negative thoughts that you continue to exhaustingly carry around and needlessly view over and over. In time you will learn to observe these thoughts dispassionately and then they will appear less and less. Learning to observe calmly, you will be able to separate from this constant barrage. You will then be made aware that there is both the witness and the thought that is witnessed.

From this objective stance, you will begin to clearly see the almost hypnotic pull these “sticky” thoughts have over you. Caught up in these thoughts, one is swept along at their whim. Calmly separated from these thoughts, their power over you is negated.

Our lives are about experiencing, learning, loving and growing in understanding. The choice is entirely yours. Day by day. Start now and see the wonders that await you.

comments: What can one self do meaningfully at the age of 59, apart from housework, etc, when one has no family left, save for a partner? What can one do that is both interesting and stimulating, in these years?

Thank you for contacting us.

Let’s just take ’59’ out of your question. It labels and limits. You already have a preconceived notion about what ’59’ means. You likely had one for ’58’.

Have you removed the 59?

Good…now… what has meaning to you “apart from housework, etc…” and “is both interesting and stimulating” to you after unshackling yourself from ’59’? I know little of you yet the fact that you arrived here, tells me volumes more than ’59’ ever could.

[Middle English, from Old French, from Latin, it is of importance, third person sing. present tense of interesse, to be between, take part in : inter-, inter- + esse, to be; see es- in Indo- European Roots.]

Esse…to be. Just be. Not “in these years” ; in this moment. Then another. What aroused your curiosity in that moment. In this one? What held your attention? Go deeper. What causes you “to be” involved? What causes you to be concerned, excited and engaged? You mention “”when one has no family left, save for a partner…” so what also causes you to be concerned, excited and engaged both together and apart? Go deeper still.

Outside there is a birth certificate. Inside there is no ’59’; only timeless dreams and desires. Which ones remain and are unfulfilled? They are unique to you and offer a direction. Follow them.

Dear friend, I am deeply interested to know much about enquiring on WHO AM I? Though I have been reading a lot on this by Ramana Maharshi, I still feel that there is more to be learned as to how one can work smoothly on this issue. I hope you will feed me with enough information shortly. Wishing you peace and happiness all the way. Kind Regards.

Thank you for your kind regards and sincerity.

Being “deeply interested” shall lead you to your goal. You “have been reading a lot” and as Ramana Maharshi so eloquently said, “Mere book learning is not of any great use. After realization all intellectual loads are useless burdens and are to be thrown overboard.”

To “feed” you with more information is unnecessary. You have more than enough. Be still and begin reading the pages inside yourself. Read the stories they tell. Go back to the chapters you neglected to finish. Read them with fresh eyes and a clear view.

Find the pages that are damaged and weathered. Their words will leap from the pages and possibly startle you. Have no fear and work to repair and restore them. Abandon what can’t be repaired. Then move to the next chapter.

Be patient and you will reach the chapter you are living. Then you will find that you are writing your book in every moment.

Do you believe in evil spirits or what they call black magic? What if all that is stopping me from my path is an evil spirit? I feel physically like my neck is being trapped and that I can’t breathe anymore.

Actually I feel that something is inside me that is breathing and all my dreams are polluted by bad creatures like snakes, scorpions and demons. I feel so heavy and tired as if my chest is blocked and I’m carrying a big stone inside. Of course, all the doctors have told me I’m not suffering from anything and that all this is illusionary.

So what can you say about that? Because I feel that the more time passes, the more areas of my body are being invaded. I’ve tried mediating but it’s so hard to breathe again. I really don’t think I’m capable of helping myself through this war. What do you think? Thanks anyway.

Thank you for contacting us. Know that any fear and trembling you experience is part of this life’s journey. With faith and even the slightest bit of courage, the day will come when these moments are but a distant memory. The light that resides inside you and inside all of us may be obscured at times in our lives. It is never completely extinguished though, so that hope remains eternal.

It was prudent that you sought medical advice to ascertain whether there was any underlying physical condition creating the symptoms of difficulty breathing, tiredness and chest tightness. You also have indicated that you have been assured by “all the doctors” that there is nothing to be physically concerned with, therefore this presents an immediate opportunity to quietly be grateful for your good health.

“The more time passes”, the more moments you are given (again think gratefulness) to examine both anxiety and the dream state and how they may provide the answers you seek.

It doesn’t really matter what the priest, the rabbi, the psychotherapist, the occultist, the guru, the exorcist, the spiritualist or even the local barber believe. What is it that you believe? What do you accept as true and real? All will be too quick to provide you with different solutions. Some may even provide relief, albeit temporary.

I will not add to this morass. I shall only point you back to your inner deepest self. It is only there where you shall find stillness and relief. It is where God resides.

Shortness of breath, feeling smothered, the feeling of choking, chest pain or discomfort are not uncommon for one experiencing anxiety. The Latin word for narrowness as it refers to a shortness of breath or supply is angustiae. Hold back the natural life energy from flowing and narrow it’s expression and you’ll soon feel it’s wrath.

Anxiety can occur when you choose to leave the safe haven of the here and now. Before long you may get caught up in your fertile imagination and the catastrophic ideas it holds. Staying in the now is paramount. Once you have trained yourself to actually witness the anxiety and to remain objective to it, immediately its power over you will diminish.

Once you are able to free yourself of memories and anticipation, what is left for you to fear? Try to remain in the gap which occurs between having your attention on one thought and yet not quite being attached to the next one. Gently step into this gap and attempt to stay there for as long as possible.

Be ever aware that the past and future exist in the mind only and you are able to observe your mind, therefore you are not your mind. Reality exists only in the now.

When you awake from a nightmare you immediately realize it was only a nightmare but while you are trapped inside it seems very real indeed. Start seeing the nightmare (or the dream for that matter) for what it is. Wake up!

The life energy that was previously used to suppress and wage war against those persistent negative thoughts and fears, can now be freed up to energize and enrich rather than narrowing and suppressing it’s expression.

You must be disciplined enough (and it will come with time and practice) to disassociate yourself from destructive thoughts by using the observation technique located here.

While using the technique, don’t fight or wrestle with your thoughts. Don’t try to avoid seeing them, rather attempt to view them in a dispassionate manner. Resist not. Resent not. Detachment will eventually lead to freedom from that which you are presently a slave. No special knowledge or advanced training is needed to accomplish this goal. You already have all that you require within.

Although you exist as a person within the material world, that which is within you (the observer) and witnesses all that occurs, is infinite. Realize this and bring it to your morning meditation and other moments of solitude. That is your true self. Pursue this diligently and with patience and sincerity. Refuse to judge your progress, as that is evidence that your ego is still involved.

When all the false ideas you still hold about yourself are gradually given up, the true self will be revealed. You can still continue with all your daily duties and responsibilities while allowing yourself time to meditate and get centered daily.

Your dreams are just that and whether they contain images of snakes and scorpions or butterflies and lilacs, it is this writer’s opinion that they are invaluable in recovering unexpressed parts of the dreamer’s personality.

Consider reading, grasping the basic concept and trying the dream technique located here.

Before you noted “I really don’t think I’m capable of helping myself through this war…” and now you may realize that we are all our own worst enemy. See what happens when both sides surrender.

comments: “I am not able to tell the difference between ‘letting go’ and ‘giving up’. Any words of enlightenment would be helpful. Thanks.”

Thank you for your question. When one is ‘letting go’ of something it necessarily denotes holding on to something. Anything you hold onto is not ‘you’, there is merely possession. Let go…let flow. Grasping at water only frustrates; letting it flow and move about you is a natural pathway.

‘Giving up’ may mean ending the journey prematurely. It may also mean the release of those things which have not worked in the past. It depends on what you are giving up. Is it control? Self-denial? Pride? Dominance? Hostility? Self-respect?

Be aware that in the act of ‘giving up’ you may also be giving away vital parts of yourself. Do you give up these parts to appease other mortals or in submission to a higher power? Do you give up the parts that help or that hinder? This is most crucial. Those parts that assist have been there from your creation. They are your very composition and birthright.

Those parts that hinder may have been ingested through both subtle and acute violations, a lack of a healthy environment from which to grow and take shape and simply through common inevitable socialization. Left without proper guidance and lacking confidence at a fragile point in childhood, one may have been unable to respond courageously in the moment. That which may have enriched is lost in the process and the ability to respond in the future is also compromised.

Begin letting go of the inauthentic pieces you laboriously carry around that demean the self and cause doubt and fear. Give up that which would keep you from realizing anything less than who you are. Follow that perpetual inner voice that was there at your initial realization of consciousness and remains faithful even when unheeded. Let go of all the impulsive voices you’ve collected over time that fade with fashion.

Diligently shield yourself from the toxicity of others and stay free of their ingested parts which they have yet to purge. Stay open to and embrace and receive those with a shared spirit.

What on earth have you to fear if simply actualizing what a perfect creator has elaboratedly wrought? Fully equipped with inner resources beyond your wildest dreams. Let go…in faith. Give up the faithless. Transcend mediocrity.

Live fully IN the now; though not FOR the now. That will only lead to chaos and recklessness. Know the difference. There is nothing remotely chaotic about a life unfolding moment by moment. On the other hand, forcing something to occur at this moment will only disappoint. Force will only cause chaos in your life and the lives of others. Absolutely everything you choose to do and not to do in every moment has impact, so begin by claiming the parts of yourself you may have abandoned.

The art of retrieving these parts is simple enough. Like the prodigal son, they will return in time as you open fully. What effort is required to welcome back those parts that originate within? They are you! Accept them and allow them to be.

Find; don’t confound yourself. Like something that you know to be in your home even while it is hidden in the dark and is eventually seen with the morning’s dawn, so shall these parts soon be seen when illuminated by your inner light.

To everything indeed there is a season. Your inner work is steady and often unnoticed until in a moment you realize the door has always opened from the inside and your pushing out has been for naught.

A snail moves at a predetermined, predestined pace. It is foolish to believe that it is too slow. In the same manner, you have a natural pace (it is no one else’s) that fits you perfectly. Resist anything that enters the fray which is not you and attempts to become you. Resist without resenting or it shall own you. Get this; get everything. Governed by the eternal now, pace is irrelevant. Without reference to past or future, what is time?

The child, prior to adding what they are not and giving up what they are and can be, steadily grows with parental guidance. Count your blessings should that have been the way of your youth. Now, wake up! Despite all that may have transpired in your youth, now you are the adult who requires nothing save the eternal parental spirit. Find it if lost. Embrace it if found. Go and do what you must. Fulfill the desires of your heart.

We can marvel at the intelligence of the organism only when we dispense with our fascination for the intellect. Where is the intellect of the sparrow? Yet watch how survival and growth takes place. A knowing to which doubt is foreign. So too you must allow the intelligence of your organism to do what it knows and leave your intellect out of the way.

The celestial sun is ever present though routinely inaccessible through the passage of time. The inner sun remains ever accessible when you break free of the shackles of time. There is no effort needed to realize it is so. The door opens inward.

“I suffer from Bipolar Disorder. I have experienced extreme highs and extreme lows. I started using your technique in the hopes of bringing my mind into reality. In the last few days that I have been in a slight depression, I have tested out the meditation. I couldn’t believe how much of an effect it had on regaining my center.

My goal is to take this meditation to a higher level. I believe it can have a large influence on my ups and downs and therefore improve drastically my quality of life. After all, the problems I face are brought on by stress. Thank you for your time.”

Thank you for your time and comments. It is gratifying to hear that the technique presented here has been effective in helping you “regain your center”. It is only partially true that “the problems I face are brought on by stress”, rather it is how one chooses to react to inevitable stress. Trust that stress shall always exist along side consciousness.

I’m assuming that you have been diagnosed by a medical professional and so to educate our other readers, allow me to add this concise definition from The Mayo Center:

“Bipolar disorder – From high to low. From euphoria to depression. From recklessness to listlessness. These are the extremes associated with bipolar disorder, which can be a serious and disabling mental illness. The condition is also known as manic-depressive illness — from manias on the one extreme to depression on the other.

Bipolar disorder affects more than 2 million American adults, or about 1 percent of the population age 18 and older. It often begins in adolescence or early adulthood and may persist for life.

Its causes are elusive, and there’s no cure. But it can be managed. Left untreated, the condition usually worsens. The flares of bipolar disorder may last for weeks or months, causing great disturbances in the lives of those affected, their friends and their families.”

Now, pass the Mayo if you will and ask “where is the place for meditation?” Meditation techniques are used increasingly by health care professionals to treat many medical conditions. It is a fact that meditation has been used to effectively reduce the side effects of chemotherapy. Meditation also assists in minimizing post-operative pain and enhances pain management regimens. The unique quality of the deep meditative state, which is neither like sleep nor being fully wakeful, has been observed to cause distinct changes in metabolism, blood pressure, heart rate, respiration, and brain chemistry. The state induced by deep meditation is characterized by high amplitude, low frequency alpha and theta rhythms.
Conversely, it is also observed that when the brain responds to stress, low amplitude, high frequency beta wave patterns appear. Nervous system activity increases, blood pressure and the heart rate are elevated and respiration increases. Blood is drawn away from one’s periphery and into the muscles and vital organs.

This is quite appropriate when confronted with an event which threatens one’s bodily safety, however this stress response becomes problematic when it occurs following a hurtful remark from a co-worker, the inability to find a “good” parking spot, a missed golf shot, running late for an appointment and so on.

It is quite encouraging that one’s nervous system can be taught to reorganize itself and function at higher, more complex levels and be capable of handling stress more effectively then before meditation began. The mind becomes much more fluid following meditation allowing one to more effectively and calmly deal with stress encountered whether still in a meditative state or afterwards.

It is also factual that new neural pathways can be created to stimulate the brain’s internal communication and enhance learning ability and the intuitive process, bring about clarity and promote creative thought.

Now, while I’m not saying that meditation is an alternative to medication or therapy or both for one diagnosed with Bipolar disorder, there is certainly no harm in meditating. When is awareness ever harmful? It is truly be-ing.

With increased awareness, one can begin to choose more appropriately how one shall respond to stressful situations, thus one can choose in the present an alternative response to habitual patterned responses. This in turn shall color our experience of both our inner and outer worlds. With increased awareness, one who is prone to depression can train themselves to change states. Prepare by being regular in your meditative practice, not merely using it as a balm when stress overwhelms.

With meditation (unless there is a profound awakening or ‘satori’) initially one might expect minute changes, though over time the distance you shall cover is vast! Let there be no timetable for growth; simply be.

While it may be true that those who are diagnosed bipolar shall live their lives dealing with their inherent brain chemistry, that doesn’t exclude the use of any effective method available to ‘get centered’. Continue to meditate. This reader’s courage is evident and inspires us all. There is indeed hope for all those open to the benefits of meditation, approaching it just as they uniquely are, here and now.

A couple of questions: 1)It appears to me that based on my experience as well as reading, that after increased self awareness and meditative practices, one remains in charge of emotions and emotions rarely overwhelm. The expression of emotions also becomes muted, positive as well as negative. How does one differentiate this from a high threshold for emotional response (hypothymia) which I believe is an undesirable condition from psychiatric point of view.

Such people will have difficulty dealing with people who do not have the same level of self awareness and have not the knowledge of the position of the other person. It seems that celebration and mourning in life lose their potency. Your comments.

2) Awareness of breathing, breathing practices and meditative practices like Vipassana make one go through unfinished psychological business of the past. During the time such business is brought to the surface (and unless it is dealt with effectively on one’s own or under competent guidance), the practice per se appears to be fraught with dangers when the competence is absent. I hope there is no way but to go through one’s collected garbage though it is a painful process. Your comments. Thank you so much.

Thank you for your thoughtful questions and comments. Actually one is about as “in charge of emotions” as they are in charge of a pack of coyotes. All is well until the crisis hits. The dam bursts. The canoe tips. The dog bites. However one may choose to remain objective to one’s emotions which in turn give the appearance of being “in charge”.

Achieve control by realizing you can’t control the uncontrollable. Manage the rapids by steering clear of them. If caught up in them (as you will undoubtedly find yourself at times), see that it is so. Ride the emotional rapids and stay cool until you can center yourself. Then learn from the experience.

Most have witnessed the futility of commands such as “calm down!” and “control yourself!” to another in a highly charged emotional state. Best to remain objective yourself before becoming caught up in their emotional response and attempting to be “in charge” when you are yourself unbalanced.

To the casual observer, the two examples you have mentioned; objectivity and diagnosed with hypothymia (an abnormal decrease in the intensity with which emotions are experienced) may appear quite similar. However the difference is vast and traversing the distance is daunting indeed.

The one who is objective chooses to distance themselves moment by moment. They are very capable, responsive and may also choose to explode powerfully (with e-motion if you will) at any given (or taken) time. They calmly watch their own triggers and the emotional responses which follow and are aware that it is so. While in the meditative state they observe the thoughts that seek to pull them in and toss them to and fro. They choose to respond or not. They have and continue to develop patience, wisdom and discernment. Let the casual observer see what they see. If they seek to understand they will delve deeper.

Your second question relates more directly to your first than one might think. In the material world we gather our garbage in order to dispose of it intelligently. We live, create and consume and the by-products of this worldly process are separated and identified as being garbage.

>This only becomes “fraught with danger” when we choose not to identify, separate and dispose. Dis-ease results from our refusal to part with this garbage and instead we choose to keep it in close proximity. Indentify, separate and dispose. Whether it be “garbage” into the trash can or a resentment we identify and release into the ether.